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Automated Ads Bidding – Best Practice and Strategy

In a follow-up to our previous blog post in April 2018 – How Good Is AdWords Automated Bidding? – we now take a look at automated Google Ads bidding best practice and ways to make the most of it through optimal strategy.

There are a number of good reasons why automated bidding should be used (ideally with a Smart Bidding strategy), but delegating bidding to Google’s machine learning can cause fear due to the inevitable lack of human control. So, as automation evolves and becomes more integral in running successful campaigns, it’s necessary to be clear that delegating tasks to the machine doesn’t diminish marketeers’ value. It just opens up our opportunities to take on bigger challenges and focus more on strategic tasks.

Here are three ways in which to build trust in the machine learning:

1. Try Smart Bidding in at least one campaign

If it’s the first time using a bidding strategy, leverage a conservative goal for CPA/ROAS, or put in a bid cap that reflects a healthy bid to budget ratio (as no bid should exceed 10% of the daily spend).

2. Test Responsive Ads

These can be both on the Search (with text) and Display Networks (including images).

3. Embrace Close Variants

Google gives us access to variants of keywords that often come in at a discounted cost-per-click. Focusing on these also frees time otherwise spent on match type variant bidding and the corresponding ad/landing page work involved with that.

Following Google’s best practice for Smart Bidding – as outlined below – can also lead to higher confidence in automation through better results.

  • Take advantage of auction-time bidding with Google Ads, as dynamic bids tailored to each individual auction can often lead to better results.
  • Manage bids more efficiently in Google Ads so that automated bids may save time that you can spend on other areas that are vital to your account’s health.
  • Pick the right bidding strategy because automation will manage your account to focus on that goal above all else.
  • Automate bidding based on the most accurate conversion data available as better conversion data means more informed automated bids.
  • Align campaign settings with automated bid strategies to simplify account structure because granular campaign structures aren’t necessary as automated bidding will work across all account structures.
  • Base your campaigns on objectives since automated bidding is objective-based bidding, which means a single campaign should generally have the same type of objective.
  • Test your automated bid strategies by keeping each bidding test simple, consistent and focused on one KPI because adding other new elements as you test Smart Bidding can muddy test results.
  • Choose the largest campaign that’s comfortable to start experimenting with as when testing, more data means more confidence and faster results.
  • Start with targets that align with the historical CPA or ROAS since overly-aggressive targets can affect volume and cloud the comparison with your historical averages.

Knowing useful details on the pros and cons of each Google Ads automated bidding strategy is key. Once that’s also understood it’s possible to determine which is best for your campaign, as that depends on numerous factors.

There are a variety of automated bidding options in Google Ads. Some may be great for an account, but others might be terrible. You might find you have a use for every bidding strategy somewhere in your account, or you might not be able to use any. Until it’s understood how each bidding strategy works, this is impossible to determine. (This cloudiness and fear is often what has led to many blog posts warning that bidding should never be automated).

Automated bid strategies in Google Ads are in fact a good way to save time while leveraging algorithms to optimise an account, but only when evaluated and chosen wisely. The best thing about automated bidding is that it’s possible to choose what is used where, as strategies can be set at either the ad group, campaign, or portfolio level, depending on the best strategy that complements the specific goal.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but there’s also no excuse for a “set and forget” mentality. So success with automation requires a well chosen strategy/goal. Once that’s formulated the time it saves can be beneficial and the results it brings can be extremely rewarding.

If you want to know more about how automated bidding strategies can help your business, please get in touch.