Automated bidding is nothing new in the world of PPC. Google have offered the automatic management of bids towards a goal set by the advertiser for some time now. It seems though that lately Google have been making loads of changes to perfect their different smart bidding tools. In theory, smart bidding is fantastic for alleviating the heavy lifting of optimisation and its algorithm can help in reaching an advertiser’s objectives. With everyone working towards different goals, it’s good to know the different tools available and which would be most suited to helping you achieve your objective.
If your goal is to increase the number of conversions but still have control of your keyword bids, Enhanced Cost per Click (eCPC) is a great strategy to test. It’s very similar to manual bidding as you will still be able to adjust your bids according to performance, but on top of that Google’s machine learning will adjust your keyword bids based on how likely a conversion is in that particular situation.
Should traffic volume be your main concern, Maximise Clicks will help in adjusting your bids in order to drive as many clicks as possible at the budget you’ve set. This would be well suited for awareness campaigns, as it doesn’t really take into consideration other targets you may have e.g. CPA or ROI. Maximise Clicks is great if your bids are less of a concern and you don’t mind paying slightly more per click so long as site visits are up. However, be aware that Adwords may spend over your daily budget for that campaign, and may even take “leftover” budget from other campaigns, where they haven’t hit their daily budget target.
If your bids are less of a concern and you don’t mind paying slightly more for a boost in conversions, Maximise Conversions is slightly more suitable. This is a good way of helping you get as many conversions as possible, whilst still staying within your budget. However, it is important to note that CPCs and CPAs may inflate as a result – so this strategy would be more suitable if these metrics are secondary to conversion volume, say if an advertiser wants to grow their business.
Target CPA does pretty much what it says on the tin – it will help you drive the highest number of conversions for the CPA goal you set. As this works towards an overall target, you may find that certain conversions will cost more or less than your set target, e.g. Tablet conversions may be slightly higher but it should hit your desired CPA when looking at campaign or ad group level. Google will use its own data to establish the likelihood of a conversion.
Similar to Target CPA, Target ROAS will work towards getting you your desired return within your budget. However, the only pre-requisite before you are able to switch to Target ROAS is your campaign must have at least 15 conversions in the past 30 days. However, Google recommends to have at least 50 conversions in the past 30 days as this will give the algorithm more data to work with.
Before you start off on your smart bidding adventure, there are a couple of things you need to be prepared for. One of the most important things to note is that there is an initial learning period where you traffic and spend will be ramped up in order for Google’s algorithm to gain as much insight as possible to better optimise your campaigns towards your chosen strategy and goals. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much of a solution around this, just that you need to be prepared to not hit your targets from day one. It can take up to a week for it to settle in but once it does, it becomes easier for you to hit your business goals. If you have any big changes that will need to be implemented, for example significant budget changes or messaging overhauls, be prepared to go through another learning period.
Also worth noting, with smart bidding it’s more about looking at the results as a whole rather than in parts. For instance, certain days may be more expensive or certain devices will not work quite as well. This is to be expected but if you look at a campaign level or over a longer period of time, you should be within your target.
So all of this sounds great, tell Google your goal, and let it do it’s magic, you see increased results, but how do you know you wouldn’t have achieved these anyway? To get over this hurdle, we’d recommend setting up your smart bidding strategy within an experiment, and split testing the automated bidding against manual optimisation to see which drives the best results. This way you can prove whether the smart bidding has driven incremental results.