Should You Use Automated Bidding for Google Ads?

Automated bidding has taken Google Ads by storm, making managing ads easier than ever, but is it right for your business? Find out when you should use automated bidding for your PPC campaigns.

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Google Ads have become a major strategy in leveraging new customers and website clicks for many companies investing in digital advertising. The downside to these pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns is that they can require a lot of management and monitoring.

That’s why Google’s automated bidding feature has become so popular. This AI-powered technology claims to take the guesswork out of bidding strategies to make your ads as effective as ever — boosting your conversions and decreasing your cost-per-click (CPC).

But is automated bidding the right decision for your company? And if it is, when should you use this feature and what results can you expect?

Overview: What is automated bidding?

Let’s get started by breaking down exactly what Google’s automated bidding technology is and how it works.

Automated bidding in Google Ads is a bidding tool that makes bids for your campaigns based on an algorithm. This algorithm reviews your ad’s chances of resulting in clicks or conversions and establishes a bid to meet your performance goals.

This AI-powered bidding runs automatically and learns more about your ads and customers as your campaign runs, adjusting bids to account for any new information.

Google Ads automated bidding strategies are all portfolio bid strategies, allowing you to apply your chosen strategy across multiple campaigns, ad groups, and even keywords.

When should you use automated bidding?

If you’re already running Google Ads and seeing great results, automated bidding might not top your current results. If you have a team in place whose job is to monitor and grow conversions and clicks, automated bidding likely isn’t necessary.

But if you’re just getting started with Google Ads, not seeing the results you expected, or have a small team that’s stretched pretty thin, adapting to automated bidding can improve your campaign’s results.

When automated bidding makes sense

Here are a few examples of when automated bidding is worth trying.

  • You’re not able to calculate bids daily: If you don’t have a dedicated SEO specialist, you’re likely not spending enough time reviewing your bids. Performing keyword research and calculating bids can take hours of work but can help you adjust your spends accordingly. If your team doesn’t have the time to spend doing this daily (or at minimum a few times a week), automated bidding can be of use. Automated bidding uses real-time data from the Google algorithm to monitor keyword bids for your campaigns.
  • You don’t understand digital ad analytics: As a manager, leader, or CEO, your job is to grow your business. That generally means you don’t have time to become a Google Ads specialist overnight. If you don’t have time to strategize on the best bids to make, automated bidding might be your best bet.
  • You can’t figure out why your campaigns succeed or flop: Not all successful Google Ads campaigns perform well because your team made the right calls. Sometimes, you’ll find you have no idea why one ad set performed well and another received no traction. In cases like this, many tend to cling to gut feelings and instincts when running new ads. This isn’t a sustainable strategy, and worst of all, it isn’t based on science or data. Automated bidding, however, is focused solely on data.

When you should try a different bidding strategy

Of course, automated bidding isn’t the solution for everyone. Here are a few examples of when you should either return to manual bidding or switch strategies:

  • You’re not ranking high enough: If there are keywords that are critical to your business or industry, it’s generally a good idea to bid higher on those keywords or keyword strings in order to rank higher on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). If you’re not high enough on the SERP, users might miss your ad. Automated bidding doesn’t allow you to adjust individual bids on these particular keywords, so in these instances, turning it off might be best.
  • Automated bidding isn’t generating revenue: Automated bidding is designed by smart technology, but it certainly has its flaws. For example, you could set up an automated campaign to drive maximum clicks for $3.50 or less and you might see more traffic to your site than ever before. However, there’s no guarantee that these clicks will result in conversions.
  • You prefer to be in control of your account: Many companies feel uncomfortable turning over the reins to Google to handle an ads service that’s also hosted by Google. If you have someone on staff who understands digital ads and knows the difference between reach and impressions, it may make more sense to have them manually run your campaigns. Furthermore, if you have the time and ability to learn and understand how PPC campaigns work and can succeed, you may find little use for automated bidding.

6 bidding strategies you can use for your PPC campaigns

What’s the best bidding option? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question. Your bidding strategy is going to vary based on your goals and revenue needs. Currently, there are six different bidding strategies Google offers for automated PPC bidding. Each strategy has its own goals and availabilities, so keep this in mind before selecting a methodology.

1. Maximize clicks

This strategy will set up your bids to bring in as many clicks as possible for your ads. You’ll use this strategy if your goal is to increase your overall site visits. You’ll see the most reward from this automated strategy if you have a top-notch conversion funnel set up on your landing pages.

Maximize clicks can be used across single campaigns, multiple campaigns, ad groups, and keywords.

2. Target impression share

With this strategy, the automated bidding AI will set up bids to increase the likelihood of your ads showing up on the first page of Google Search results or in the top ad positions. It’s best to use this strategy if you’re hoping to improve your rank on Google and when your goal is to show up on the first page of search results.

Target impression share can be used only in campaigns.

3. Target CPA

The target cost per acquisition bidding strategy (or target CPA) grants you a little more control over automated bidding. With this strategy, you’ll establish a preliminary target CPA. Then Google’s automated bidding tool will set up your Search or Display bids to bring in as many conversions as it can at this target CPA. This strategy is most effective when you’ve already determined a CPA you can spend to attract a customer while remaining profitable.

Target CPA bidding can be used across campaigns and ad groups.

4. Target ROAS

In Google Ads, return on ad spends (ROAS) refers to the average value received in return for each dollar spent. A target ROAS strategy is employed by automated bidding by valuing each of your conversions differently. While you’ll still establish a target, this strategy will focus on bringing in as much conversion value at your set ROAS as possible. This means conversions could end up having a lower or higher return than this target.

Target ROAS can be used across campaigns, ad groups, and keywords.

5. Maximize conversions

If you’re looking to bring in the highest number of conversions when spending your ad budget, the maximize conversions strategy might work best for you. If you select this bidding strategy, Google’s AI will optimize its bidding strategy to bring in a higher number of conversions. This is generally the best strategy for bringing in the most conversions.

Maximize conversions can be used across campaigns.

6. Maximize conversion value

Many users confuse this strategy with maximizing conversions, but maximizing conversion value is different in that it does not look at conversions alone. This strategy actually focuses on sales growth and revenue goals and aims to increase conversions while still taking these factors into consideration. The aim of this strategy is to draw in the maximum valuable conversions during a campaign.

Maximize clicks can be used across campaigns.

Automated bidding can improve your PPC campaigns, but it’s not for everyone

Automated bidding has improved the way many businesses run their PPC campaigns, allowing them more time to focus on other aspects of running their companies. However, automated bidding is not always the right option for every business — particularly those with SEO experts on staff.

The good news is, you’ll generally be able to pick up on any flaws in automated bidding strategies within the first few weeks of your campaign and rectify them.

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