The Quick Guide to Automated Bidding for Google AdWords

Written By: 

Marcelle Combrink

Marcelle Combrink

AdWords is an amazing product with many features that can drive exceptional return on investment. One of these features is automated and smart bidding on campaigns that can either add value or thoroughly break your campaigns.

We’ve outlined the basics of the 6 automated and smart bidding options and which of these would best suite your client’s business goals.

Automated Bidding Options

Automated bidding solutions are ideal options if brand and exposure are your client’s main goals, and shouldn’t be used if you want to generate leads and sales through your AdWords campaigns.

Maximise clicks

What it is: Maximize clicks is an automated bid strategy that sets your bids to get as many clicks as possible within the budget.

When you use maximise clicks, AdWords will take your ad schedule, maximum CPC limit and target spend (daily budget) into account.

What it’s for: Maximize clicks is an ideal bid strategy when your client has soft goals like getting exposure for their new product by driving visitors to their site with a limited budget.

What to watch out for: Be sure to set a maximum CPC bid limit and have well defined keywords with broad match modifiers.

Target search page location

What it is: Target search page location is a type of portfolio bid strategy that automates bidding across multiple campaigns to show your ad on the top of the page or on the first page of Google search results.

What it’s for: Target search page location is ideal when your clients want visibility for a defined set of keywords by having their ads appear on the Top or First Page of the results. This is primarily used for brand reputation and visibility goals.

What to watch out for: There is a 7-day learning period with Target Search Page Location. It also only aims for 50% of ads to appear in the top slot of the first page on Google’s results, not the first position.

Target outranking share

What it is: Target outranking share is a portfolio bid strategy that helps your ads outrank ads from another domain. 

What it’s for: This bidding strategy can be used when your client has visibility goals over other domains, and when these goals are brand focussed.

What to watch out for: Because the goal for this bidding strategy is visibility over a specific competitor, AdWords will adjust your bids to outrank your competitor, which would likely lead to a spike in CPC. This spike won’t necessarily ensure a good return on investment for your client or leads.

Smart bidding options

AdWords’ smart bidding solutions are the ideal fit if your clients have goals or conversion actions that they want to drive with their Google Advertising budget. Smart bidding is enriched with deep audience signals from the user, from you as the advertisers and from the user’s engagement with other Google platforms.

Maximise Conversions

What it is: Maximize conversions automatically sets bids to help get the most conversions for your campaign while spending your budget. It uses advanced machine learning to automatically optimize bids and offers auction-time bidding capabilities that tailor bids for each and every auction.

What it’s for: When you want to get the most conversions with a fixed budget and you don’t have an explicit CPA / ROAS goal. The ideal client for this bidding strategy would want the most sales leads for their set budget.

What to look out for: Remember that although machine learning is smart, it will deliver the results based on the input given. Exclude conversions that drive the least value (key page views), set a daily budget for your campaigns, and use Maximise Conversions on new campaigns without a historical CPA.

Target CPA

What it is: Target CPA is an AdWords Smart Bidding strategy that sets bids to help get as many conversions as possible at the target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) you set. It uses advanced machine learning to automatically optimize bids and offers auction-time bidding capabilities that tailor bids for each and every auction.

What it’s for: When you’ve used Maximise Conversions for the last 30 days and have established an average CPA, and you would like to see how many more leads you can get for less than the average CPA.

What to look out for: Remember that Target CPA is based on historical performance, and won’t deliver any results (or clicks) on new campaigns. As with maximise conversions, exclude conversions you do not want to optimise for. Also, keep in mind that your daily budget is recommended to be your Target CPA x 10 to be effective.

Target Return on ad spend (ROAS)

What it is: Target ROAS lets you bid based on a target return on ad spend (ROAS). This AdWords Smart Bidding strategy helps you get more conversion value or revenue at the target return on ad spend (ROAS) you set. Your bids are automatically optimized at auction-time, allowing you to tailor bids for each auction.

What it’s for: Target ROAS is ideal when your conversions vary in value and you want to get as much conversion value as possible from your campaigns. This strategy is ideal for Shopping campaigns.

What to look out for: When using target ROAS, you should have a good understanding of what a good return on investment would be for your client and each conversion should have an accurate value assigned to it.

Enhanced CPC – The happy middle ground 

What it is: ECPC works by automatically, adjusting your manual bids for clicks that seem more or less likely to lead to a sale or conversion on your website. Unlike Target CPA, which automatically sets bids based on your target cost-per-conversion, ECPC is constrained by your max CPC bids when optimizing for conversions.

What it’s for: If you’re not comfortable with giving full control of your bidding over to AdWords, ECPC offers an alternative which is a combination of manual bidding and smart bidding. ECPC will focus on increasing conversions at the same CPA as manual bidding.

What to look out for: ECPC will take care of all bid adjustments except for device bid adjustments, which you still need to manage. Also, set the Max CPC at a level you are comfortable with, and the average CPC over time will not exceed this.

Resources: Google AdWords Support