How do I optimize for conversions?

So, you’ve got tons of clicks coming in. Now what? You’ll want to make sure those clicks are headed toward the right place: a conversion. Read on for several ways to optimize your Outbrain campaigns for full-funnel, post-click engagement – from time on site to product purchases.

Multiple Conversions Tracking
Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences
Bid Strategy
A/B Testing

Set Up Multiple Conversions Tracking

First things first, let’s make sure you’ve got the pixel implemented and active. This is the first step in tracking and optimizing toward conversions.

If you haven’t already, copy your Outbrain pixel from the Conversions tab of your dashboard, then place it in the header of every page of your site. Test it using our pixel tracker extension, and make sure it reads as “Active” back in your Conversions tab. If you have any questions about this along the way, read through our set-up guide.

Tracking conversions will allow you to see when a user converts after clicking on one of your ads. If you’ve already set this up, but are struggling to receive any conversions, some of the pointers in this guide may help. There may even be something wrong with your pixel implementation, in which case you can always reach out to us for support!

Target a Custom Audience or Lookalike Audience

These advanced features allow you to target users who have already expressed interest in your content (a retargeting campaign) or who look like those who have shown interest (a Lookalike campaign). These audiences are much more likely to convert than the average user, and can bring scale to your conversion-focused campaigns.

To begin setting up any of the Audience features, check out our Custom Audiences set-up guide and our Lookalike Audiences guide.

Adjust Your Bid Strategy for Conversions

One of the best ways to optimize toward conversions is to let us handle it for you. Already, the system automatically serves your ads on publishers that show the most potential for clicks, with the goal of bringing you the most clicks within your budget. In this mode, the CPC stays the same.

However, we can also auto-optimize your CPCs toward conversions, so that when the system sees an opportunity on highly converting sources, it will use a higher CPC to bid more competitively. If it determines a conversion is less likely, then it will reduce your CPC to pay less per click. This will bring you closer than ever to the publishers that bring you a high CVR and a low CPA. In addition, we’ve seen that campaigns using Conversion Bid Strategies have an average increased conversion rate of 12% and an average CPC reduction rate of 4%. If this sounds more appealing to you, read on.

Setting Up Your Bid Strategy

Before you can set up your Conversions bid strategy, you’ll need at least one active conversion event set up. Keep in mind, “active” in this case means that the pixel is firing and that you’ve collected at least one conversion. Once this is ready, open up your campaign settings using the pencil icon to the right of the campaign name. From there, select Conversions as your bid strategy.

If you have already used the CPC by Section feature to manually adjust your CPCs, you will now see a warning that reads, “Your campaign contains manual CPC adjustments. We recommend removing these.”

Manual CPC adjustments override any auto-optimizations done by the system through this bid strategy, and traffic results from manual bids will not be optimized. If you do wish to keep these adjustments, you’ll still be able to proceed with this bid strategy, but keep in mind that manually adjusted sections will not factor into your conversions optimization reporting.

Next, select the conversion you would like to optimize toward. To help you decide, we recommend beginning with the conversion that has the greatest volume of data, so that our system can more quickly and comprehensively adapt to your results. You can even select multiple conversion points at once.

You can then select your base CPC, which will always be used as the CPC bid unless the system sees potential for a conversion or thinks one isn’t likely on a specific publisher.

When bidding, the system will automatically try to get the lowest price it can, although it will only go as high as the max CPC listed below the base CPC. You can adjust the max CPC using the “Change” link.

The Conversions Bid Strategy will start working immediately. If it doesn’t have enough conversions or data to make automatic adjustments to the CPC, it will simply use the campaign’s base CPC you’ve set until enough data is collected.

If you’re looking to maximize conversions, we highly recommend using Conversion Bid Strategy because it automatically takes several factors into consideration and is more accurate in setting the right CPCs at the right times to get you conversions.

Finally, you will have the option to “Run Experiment,” which will set up an A/B test between the the Conversions bid strategy and a control group of standard traffic.

You can adjust the testing ratio up to 80%-20% in either direction.

Once you have made all your bid strategy selections, don’t forget to click “Save.”

A/B Testing

If you elected to run an A/B test, you can find your campaign’s test results in the dashboard. Head back to your campaign name in the main Campaigns view, and next to it, you should see an A/B icon.

Click this button to open your A/B test results, although make sure to let the test run for at least a few days to gather enough data. The results will appear where your campaign chart had been.

In this report, you can see the campaign name, budget, and test duration.

You can also view the pie chart demonstrating how you have decided to split the traffic, and next to that, you will see the results broken down by the two traffic groups.

You may see a difference between the number of counted conversions and your total conversions for the campaign. Only the conversions auto-optimized during the test are shown here. Conversions from manual bids are not included.

In the bottom-left corner of the report, you can see the Confidence ranking for the test. This depends on the amount of traffic you have received and the amount of time you have run your test. The Confidence Level indicates how statistically confident we are that the results of the A/B test are accurate. The higher the rating the better!

  • High confidence rating (95%-100%), shown in green, indicates that the A/B test will very likely continue to show the same results.
  • Medium confidence rating (75%-95%), shown in yellow, indicates that the A/B test will probably continue to show the same results.
  • Low confidence rating (75% or lower), shown in red, indicates that the system needs to gather more data in order to choose the winning variant.
  • Pixel means the conversion pixel has not been implemented properly, and may have led to a discrepancy in reporting.
  • Not enough data means our system does not have enough conversions to optimize, more information for that below.

In the case of not collecting enough data, we recommend that you:

  • Wait to collect at least 20 conversions. The test can’t run properly without enough conversions. Try running the campaign for a longer period of time and take a look at our tips and tricks for getting more conversions!
  • Make sure the campaign is receiving enough traffic. If you’re having trouble scaling your campaigns, take a look at this guide.
  • Your campaign may have too many manual CPC adjustments, which override the Conversions bid strategy. Consider removing the CPC adjustments to allow the system to dynamically adjust those publisher sections.

Finally, in the bottom-right corner of the report, you can choose to end the test, either by applying Conversions mode or by reverting to standard traffic.

We recommend waiting until the test has gathered enough data before you decide.

Once ready, go ahead and select your choice!

Tips for Conversions Bid Strategy

  • Try optimizing toward a conversion that has a high volume of data, such as a lead form or newsletter sign-up. Since these actions may see a higher volume of conversions than others (such as a purchase), it will be easier for the system to optimize toward them. To create more conversion points, check out this guide.
  • Consider removing your section-level CPC adjustments, since these override the system’s CPC auto-optimization in this bid strategy. The sections that have manual adjustments will not be included in the A/B reporting and may lead to a reporting discrepancy.
  • Don’t have enough conversions yet? Setup Conversions Bid Strategy anyway! Even if you don’t have enough conversions now, your campaigns will just run using your base CPCs. Then once you do have enough conversions, the Bid Strategy will automatically kick in!

Congrats! You’re now an expert in conversions optimization.

Still have a question, though? No problem – we’re here to help.

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