Everyone who is running an SEM Campaign would agree that it is definitely not a child’s play. Running an SEM campaign is a lot more than just creating an exceptional ad and identifying your target potential audience. It appears that you are always getting stuck in the firing of innumerable questions like how much should we spend on an ad, how do we divide our budget or how do we optimize our bids and so on.
It requires immense hard work and persistent efforts to have a successful campaign in the future. Out of the technical aspects of PPC advertising, having knowledge about the bid strategies is considered highly important as these strategies are really an integral part if you are looking out to be successful. This can be mainly because Google Ads so many options for your bid strategy and all of them come with their own nuances.
Moreover, after reading their descriptions you may think that you know how these strategies work but once you starting working and applying them in practice, you will realize that you are getting trapped in the spiral of uncertainty where you are never entirely sure of your footing.
However, if you want to have a basic knowledge of the strategies to run a successful campaign, knowing about the most preferred bidding strategies – manual and automated Google Ads bidding can prove to be very helpful for you. So, in this article, we will further discuss out of manual and automated bidding of Google Ads which one should you choose and will also read about some of the tips which can help you in the long run. So, are you ready to step into the world of Google Ads bidding strategies? If yes, then continue reading!
Manual Bid Strategies vs Automated Bid Strategies:
It is not as if automated bid strategies are totally useless or we are completely against this strategy. But the thing is that this bidding strategy works better and is best utilized under certain circumstances like when you have a huge and flexible budget because under automated bids Google will make optimizations suddenly and hence advertisers should be alert and ready always for dealing with drastic changes from time to time.
Another thing which will make automated bidding to work in your favor is when you have significant historical data from previous campaigns so that Google can use this data to predict future bis for you. While the word automated by creating a relaxed impression in your mind wherein you may think that you are on cruise control but you still would have to monitor your campaigns on regular time intervals.
However, the pressure of monitoring the changes would not be as much as you would have to experience with manual bidding. Therefore, it is recommended that if you have time on your hands and have some prior experience with AdWords, that you should go with manual bidding. Although a tad bit more difficult, but manual bidding will any day give you more flexibility and allow more control over your bids and keywords in comparison to automated bidding.
Why Automated Bidding is not as easy as it looks?
As the name suggests, Automated bidding automatically sets the bid amounts for you depending upon different factors while Manual bidding allows you to set your own maximum cost per click (CPC) amount for your ads.
Though at first glance, automated bidding may seem like a better option, after all everyone loves to sit back, relax and let someone else do the work for them. However, when you are working in Google Ads and use this approach and think that since bid amounts are set automatically, there will be less work and you would not need to monitor the whole thing as carefully as before.
But unfortunately, it is not the case always and therefore, till today many paid search account managers continue to rely more on manual bids instead of automated bids. Though we have mentioned some of the reasons earlier, if you still need to know more, then let us have a deep study of them!
Reason #1: Automated Bidding Requires Large Conversion Volumes
In the accounts which have large conversion volumes, automated bidding can work really well. Since these accounts generate a lot of data, Google’s bid algorithm can easily use it and calculate the best bid amount. However, if there is a lack of such a big volume, then the algorithm will not work properly and can jump to wrong conclusions. This is the reason why Google requires at least 30 conversions in the previous 30 days for the automated bid strategies to work properly. Though the minimum conversions required are 30 but still, it is recommended that your number of conversions should be between 45 and 60 conversions so that you would have enough data to work with. However, if you have a small account which has less activity and hence less conversion numbers, then manual bidding may be your only option left.
Reason #2: Automated Bidding Needs an Even History
Now, if you take care of the first reason and your account has sufficient volume but an uneven history, then it can also pose as a major hurdle in your journey. What we mean to say is that if your account is subject to swings because of seasonality or any other reasons, then these swings can make automated bidding a bit difficult for you. You may ask how does an uneven history affect the bidding, then let us explain your question with an example.
Let’s say if you are going through a particular peak and high period, then it is likely that Google with your bids keeping in mind that peak period. The scenario will work similarly even in the case where you are going through a rough and slow period. This approach can prove to be a bit harmful to your campaign, after all, it is a common saying in stock market trading that past performances are not always an indicator of future performance.
Reason #3: Automated Bidding Requires More Flexible Budgets
Since now we know that automated bidding sets the bid amount for you automatically, it is no surprise that Google needs flexibility in terms of your budget to make optimizations and adjustments as the situation demands. However, this can sometimes result in a significant period jump in your ad spend and therefore, your budget needs to be open and flexible enough to absorb these significant changes.
Why Go for Manual Bidding?
It has been seen that the SEM campaigns tend to perform better when the bid is set manually rather than automatically. This can happen because of a variety of reasons. One of the reasons can be that manual bidding gives one a competitive edge as you can react more quickly to marketplace changes.
Automated bid strategies are also believed look for ad auctions which more or less are likely to lead you to hit your KPI. Moreover, it is kind of vague that you hand over the total control of your campaigns, thereby losing the transparency as you lose the knowledge of in which auctions you are participating and how you are performing. Another reason why you must not go for Automated bidding is that this bidding fails to educate you about your ideal customer.
There is a lack of transparency in automated bidding which tends you to lose insight into what your ideal online audience looks like. Last but not least, it has already been told how much complex, low volume and nuanced the campaigns run by automated bidding are to be handled by the algorithms.
How to proceed with Manual Bidding?
In order to set manual bidding in Google Ads, you have to go on the bidding head, scroll down to the bottom of the strategy list and then select the ‘manual CPC’ option. Once you chose the option, you have changed the settings to manual bidding.
We have also picked out some additional tips which can help you with manual bid setting!
- Set Automated Bid Rules: Just because you are not using automated bidding option, it does not mean that you cannot use the other tools available to manage your bids. For example, you can easily set an automated rule which will boost your keyword bid if it goes down the first page of results. Depending on the objectives, people set their rules to push the bid higher or lower. Doing this gives them a bit more control and also relieves them of the pressure of monitoring the changes on a daily basis.
- Give Tiered Bidding a try: Another strategy to try with manual bidding is tiered bidding as this strategy allows you to assign different bid amounts to different kind of keyword matches. For example, if you want to assign a higher bid to an exactly matched term because it would probably bring in relevant terms than the broadly matched terms, then you can easily do it with tiered bidding.
- Get Rid of Enhanced CPC: It is important for you to know that when you change your bid settings from automated to manual CPC, Google Ads automatically adds you into the Enhanced CPC as well. Unless you are sure that you actually want Enhanced CPC, make sure that you un-click the check box against the option ‘Help increase conversions with Enhanced CPC’.
- Take a Look at the Guidance: If you are new in running an SEM campaign and have little idea about how things work here, then it is better to have at least some reference. Therefore, when you go for the manual bid, Google Ads gives you an option with the name ‘get guidance selecting a bid strategy.
Once you click on this link, it will ask you to choose from a variety of options that what is most important for your account and them ultimately on the basis of what you select Google will recommend an automated strategy to you. It is absolutely not mandatory for you to choose the recommended strategy rather you can see it as a helpful point of reference and something which you might like to test for future use.
We understand how much difficult it is to successfully run an SEM campaign, therefore we tried to provide you with the maximum knowledge about both manual and automated bidding strategy. Though sinking in all of this information in a single go, might appear a bit overwhelming, especially to the beginners but the intent of all this knowledge was not to scare you off the bidding system entirely but to encourage you to run a successful campaign in future clearly, without any doubts. The bottom line of this whole article is that irrespective of whichever option you choose, you must proceed with caution and be aware of your strengths as well as pitfalls.