This September, Google invited FishingBooker to speak at the CEE Agency Summit in Kiev. A must-visit for top Central and Eastern European marketing agencies, this annual event is Google’s largest gathering in the region. What did they want from us? Our story about using automated bidding to grow our revenue in 2019.
Taking center stage in front of over 300 regional experts, Petar Mitrović, our head of Paid Marketing, led the audience through his team’s experience of using machine learning for paid advertising.
Need to know
- Where: Kiev, Ukraine
- What: CEE Agency Summit 2019
- Who: Petar Mitrovic, Head of Paid Marketing at FishingBooker
- Who was there: Team leaders and product experts from leading digital agencies in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as innovators from the region and Google executives.
With a full day of presentations about how regional marketers use Google’s features, as well as plenty of time for networking, this was an eye-opening experience. Not least because Petar got to see yet another example of Google’s brand in action.
“I was free to interact with the audience, tell jokes, dress casually, and be relaxed. So even though it was an important conference I felt like I could be myself. You could see that even at formal events like this, Google sticks to its brand standards.”
All this finished off with one of Google’s famous parties, at a swish rooftop bar in town. (Rumor has it that Petar took up his rightful place behind the mic at the karaoke sharpish.)
How did our marketing team get to this point?
FishingBooker first tried automated bidding in 2015. Back then, the company was still very much a startup, heavily reliant on manual CPC and with just a two person marketing team. Their goal was to achieve as much as possible with the few resources they had available. Constantly on the lookout for new growth channels, they turned on automated bidding on one of their most successful campaigns for 2 weeks.
CPA went up by 20%. It was a no-go. The campaign got turned off and there was quite a lot of resistance to trying it again.
Over the following four years, the team never stopped thinking about how this feature had potential, if it was given a chance. They kept meeting up with Google reps, fostering their relationship and learning more about improvements and best practices for automated bidding.
“Our philosophy is to invest a lot into building a good relationship with partners,” says Petar.
Google is a top partner for the Marketing Team. The relationship they’ve been building over the last 4 years has evolved to the extent that now, whenever they meet, they have very transparent discussions.
Both sides have a good understanding of what each partner wants and expects from the other – and they enjoy each other’s company, too. This has meant we’re in the loop about what they’re developing, while they can see the details of how we’re using their product.
The unexpected success of automated bidding
We finally gave automated bidding another shot in Q1 this year. This time, the team invested a lot more time into learning about it and setting it up. With more traffic coming to the site, they were also able to experiment with a campaign that was less critical to our business, while still getting meaningful data.
With a more stable product, a more knowledgeable team, and technological advances from Google, the time was right.
Their initial expectations were simple. They wanted the machine to set up bids as well as a human could, letting the team spend less time on manual CPC and more time on innovation and optimization.
The result? More conversions, a higher conversion rate, and an overall increase in ROAS. Plus, an extra 20 hours per week to work on more interesting projects! Safe to say, it was a success.
It went so well that our Google partners wrote a case study of our story as soon as it happened. Then, they chose us to illustrate the success of automated bidding at the CEE Summit. We were already aware of how impactful our experiment was. But being asked to tell our story to the most influential agencies in the region confirmed that we’re doing things to the highest standard.
The most inspiring thing about the experience, according to Petar? Overhearing a conference attendee telling his partner to “write down that we must try automated bidding” as he was coming back to his seat. Going from no one in the company believing in automated bidding to using our success to inspire big international businesses was a considerable journey and something he’ll never forget.
What’s next for the marketing department?
Their dream is to move from manual CPC to Smart Bidding wherever it makes sense. Petar and his team will roll out automated bidding on more campaigns, so they can spend more time on optimizing ads and discovering new marketing channels.
At the same time, they’ll be working hard to keep on the pulse of what’s changing at Google. As Petar put it, “New products are being rolled out monthly. We need to keep on top of what’s happening so we can continue to try new products early on and use them to our advantage.”
As FishingBooker is getting bigger, easy wins are getting fewer and further between. Proactively following new releases and being an example of how to use innovative solutions is one way we’ll be able to keep growing. Stay tuned to find out how!