Google AdWords Pushes Automated Bidding

Posted on January 12, 2015 in

Bid Strategies Encouraged For Everyone

Automation is wonderful in concept, but it’s only effective for you if you know how the automation tool works, and you have a set goal. Understanding the pitfalls of automation is no more complex than buying a hammer. Why are you buying the hammer? Is the hammer the right tool for the job? Is there a better hammer? You could use a wrench in place of a hammer to save money, but is that worth the savings?

Google AdWords has been creating bidding tools, like the Conversion Optimizer, for years. They’ve added a small suite of bidding tools since that time. Now, they’re trying to get as many users to use these bidding tools as possible. See the link below:

Unlock the Power of Auction-Time Bidding in AdWords


My Opinion, If I May

As cautionary as my language may seem so far, I love several of the AdWords bidding tools, like the Display Campaign Optimizer. They work great most of the time, and they often do exactly what they say they will. But just as often, they fail to live up to the user expectations, simply because the user doesn’t know how the bidding tool works. So, this blog post is really about providing a brief overview of Bid Strategies. You can read my other blog posts I have linked to if you’re looking for deeper insight.


Bid Strategies

To use a Bid Strategy, you’ll need to create one or more Bid Strategies on the Shared Library on the left sidebar as shown. After at least one is created, but you can choose “Select a flexible bid strategy” in the campaign settings for “Bid strategy”. Note that there are options in this area that are default and do not require the creation of a new one in the Shared Library. Another notable aspect of creating a Bid Strategy in the Shared Library Portion is that they can then be applied at ad group level. The ad group level Bid Strategy overrides the campaign level Bid Strategy.



Enhanced CPC

Enhanced CPC, or eCPC, allows Google AdWords change to increase or decrease your keyword level bid by as much as 30% either direction based on the likelihood of each individual search query’s likelihood of converting. This means that it will sometimes exceed your Max CPC. As all bidding tools, it works best with at least some conversion data. But, unless you’re ready to use CPA bidding, this tool can provide a nice little assist. I have used it early on to get a nice kick-start to a campaign, but I’d wait until you see some conversions coming in before using it.


Target search page location

A few years ago, Google shelved its “Position Preference” campaign setting. The problem with that tool was that it was designed to look to see if your ad was eligible to appear in the desired position. If it wasn’t, it frequently wouldn’t show at all. Too many Pay-per-Click managers were using it incorrectly, and it was hurting their results. This tool does what many thought the last tool actually did. It does try to bid to the desired position. Although, if you’re targeting a wide geography and different devices, the results will vary widely as well. This might be good brand terms or ad groups with terms that convert like crazy. Other than that, it has some nice features. Perhaps you want to bid to top of page plus 10%. You can do that. I would strongly recommend using the Max bid limit option.


Target CPA

This is the Conversion Optimizer. It can be a tremendous bonus to you, and it is entirely focused on driving conversions. There used to be an option in the campaign settings level for Max CPA, but everything is now set for Target CPA (average). This tool requires a minimum of 15 conversions in the last 30 days for the campaign in question, but the more data you can give it the better. I have used this many times to great effect.


Target outranking share

Oh my, oh my, oh my. This tool is extremely impractical for advertisers focused on leads, sales, or making money in general. This is there for the client or business owner that says “I want to be above them every time”. If you look select an individual keyword, and choose Details-> Auction Insights “Selected”, you’ll see the breakdown of the competitors to your ad space. For some owners, the only way to win in business is to beat the other guy. Whatever, it’s their money. Well, now you can help them waste their money faster, while you prove your wizardry at being able to achieve such a goal. This Bid Strategy allows you to dictate the percentage of times you appear above them or appear when they don’t. As above, I recommend using the Max Bid option. Trying exploring the other options while you’re in there.


Maximize clicks

Some options are painful to look at. This is one of those. This is a retread of the Automatic Bidding from the campaign settings. It is purely focused on getting you the maximum number of clicks for the same budget, regardless of conversions. There are times that it makes sense to use. When it makes sense to use this, that means that goals are either not set in place or not tracked at all. Never use it without using the Max bid option (trust me!) , and try to get some professional help. Remember, clicks don’t put food on the table.


Target return on ad spend

Beautiful but unfinished. That’s my opinion of this Bid Strategy. Google AdWords has developed a very keep understanding when a user is likely to convert or not. The know the probability, and they know what to bid based on that. But determining when a user is likely to spend $20 versus $850 is still a bit beyond their grasp. They are working on this, since ecommerce and competing with Amazon are high on their priority list. I have used it, and it works fairly well. But, I would say that the ROAS goals that I set were not delivered quite as closely as the CPA goals for the Conversion Optimizer. It’s worth a test run to see if it can get you closer to your goals.



If you haven’t used any of these, I would definitely try out a couple on a campaign that has some conversions but won’t sink your company if the Bid Strategy doesn’t work at first. I am most enamored with the conversion-centric ones personally. I fully expect Google continue expanding their suite of bidding tools in the future.

Oh, and here is the AdWords Automated Bidding Best-Practices Link:

Now, go make some money!

By Kevin Adams

Kevin Adams has been doing PPC since 2004. He has managed many accounts from local service companies to large mortgage companies. His primary proficiencies are Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Bing Ads. He continually stays up-to-date on the latest tricks, tools and trends provided by the search engines. If there is one thing that Kevin excels at most is making his clients money with Pay-per-Click advertising.