There’s more than one way to bid on ads. While manual bidding gives you a greater degree of control over your Google Ads account, there’s a chance that it might not deliver the results you’re looking for. However, automated bidding may be able to help you reach your goals more effectively by optimizing in real time.
Automated bidding strategies can be used to help you reach specific goals, like maximizing conversions, increasing ad visibility, maximizing clicks, and reaching a target cost per acquisition (CPA) or return on ad spend (ROAS). A single automated bidding option can be used across your entire account or different strategies can be applied to specific ad groups or campaigns. But even with those advantages, automated bidding isn’t a perfect system, and it’s important to be aware of where it can fall short.
The Pros and Cons of Automated Bidding
By far, the biggest benefit of automated bidding is that it’s significantly less time consuming compared to manually setting bids at the keyword level. When you’re dealing with high-volume campaigns that produce a significant amount of conversions, the time saved with automated bidding can really add up. Automated bidding also gives you the chance to leverage metrics that might not be available for manual bidding. In the case of Dynamic and Shopping campaigns, automated bidding is an excellent option since those do not use traditional keyword targeting.
Oversight is Still Necessary
Despite what the word “automated” might suggest, automated bidding isn’t something you can set up and forget about. It still requires close monitoring to make sure you’re getting the desired results. For example, it’s been our experience that the Maximize Conversions strategy does a pretty good job of maintaining consistent cost/conversions, but we’ve also found that the system sometimes favors queries that convert at a high rate but bring in low-quality leads or have a low average order value (AOV). As another example, you have to be very careful when using the ROAS strategy. If the target ROAS is set too ambitiously, your ads won’t serve.
Automated bidding also requires oversight to make sure the system isn’t getting carried away with bids. If there isn’t a lot of search/conversion volume, Google’s algorithm tends to compensate by putting too much confidence in auctions with little data to back it up. Going back to the Maximize Conversions strategy, that strategy has some limitations in terms of setting max CPC bids. There have been times when we’ve seen the system increase max bids and set the max CPCs to be the entire daily budget, so if you’re not paying close attention, there’s a chance you could end up overpaying for fewer clicks and limiting the traffic you can bring in from your campaigns.
Tracking Errors Can Affect Bids
Sometimes, errors in tracking can throw off automated bidding strategies, so accounts need to be watched to catch potential problems. For example, if a glitch causes your conversion tracking to stop working for a period of time, Google won’t see information about any conversions that occurred during that time and will assume the conversion rate dropped, starting a chain reaction of problems. If Google thinks the conversions have dropped, they’ll reduce bidding and, in turn, ads will become less visible. Even after errors are fixed, it can take time to get back to normal.
Automated Bidding Works Best for Established Accounts
It’s also important to note that, in some cases, automated bidding simply might not be an option. If you’re just getting started with Google Ads, doing some manually run campaigns is necessary to establish a history of conversions, and automated bidding strategies need that background information to work from. Google recommends that businesses have at least 15 conversions within the last 30 days to use the Target CPA strategy or 50 conversions in 30 days for the Target ROAS strategy. While this threshold might be easy for some companies to reach, it can be a lot harder for others, especially if they have small budgets.
Is Automated Bidding Better than Manual Bidding?
Even with the conveniences automated bidding has to offer, it isn’t necessarily better than manual bidding. We routinely use a combination of automated and manual bidding strategies depending on the needs of specific campaigns. In some situations, manual bidding can have some very distinct advantages over automated bidding.
Manual bidding can take more time to oversee and manage, but it does have the benefit of being the most effective way to control your spend. When you’re the one making all the changes to your bids, there’s no need to worry about things like anomalies in the system impacting your spend or that a tracking error will throw off your bids.
If it’s important to be able to make changes very quickly, manual bidding has the edge over automated. When changes are made while using manual bidding, those changes will go into effect right away. But when changes are made to automated bidding strategies, those changes take a little bit of time to sync in the system. If a business is in an industry centered on a volatile, rapidly changing market, the ability to make immediate changes alone might make manual bidding a more suitable option.
Every company’s marketing needs are unique and you need a strategy tailored to your particular needs. TRAFFIC offers a wide range of biddable media services to help you effectively reach your target audience, including automated bidding, manual bidding, multi-lingual campaigns, and more. Contact us today to find out how we can help you reach your marketing goals.