Google’s Automated Bidding Strategies

Since the 1980’s, the concept of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ has been debated on its merits of either advancing society or being the eventual end of mankind.

I’m not willing or ready to join that debate nor is this the proper forum to do so, but what I will discuss is Google’s semi-new automated bidding strategies.

For those Google advertisers with the time and the knowledge to properly segment and optimize their Google Ads campaigns, typically you will generate better results and gain important insights not available when you manually segment, optimize and actively manage your campaigns.

However, like anything, you won’t know for sure if optimizing campaigns manually is more effective than Google’s automated bidding strategies if you don’t test. I recommend and I am always testing different bidding strategies for my private clients and I suggest that you do the same.

I’m not proposing that you test your entire account, but a subset of your account that may not be performing well or at least is not your most essential account during your busiest time of year make excellent candidates for testing:>

A quick note when testing is that you will want to understand the bidding strategies before running any test so pay attention to the rest of this article and discover which strategy may be the right fit for you and your advertising goals.

And for those of you who lack the time or knowledge to properly optimize your campaigns (if you are reading this article) know that using a Google automated bidding strategy is going to far outperform doing nothing, so know your options.

Automated Bidding Strategies – What They Are

In general, the purpose of Google’s automated bidding strategies is to automatically set bid values in order to maximize the likelihood that a click on your ad will result in a conversion.

In order to calculate the likelihood of conversion, Google uses past historical data including search terms, click through rates, device, operating system, time of day, etc. to either increase or decrease bids in real-time based on the selected bidding strategy.

For automated bid strategies to be effective, advertisers will first need to ensure that they have properly configured their conversion tracking and then that they have established conversion history and know their campaign goals.

Automatic bid strategies can be changed easily through the settings link at either the campaign, ad group or keyword level depending on the strategy.

By using automated bidding strategies, advertisers are addressing two problems that can be commonly found within manually optimized campaigns.

  1. Ensuring that bids are set high enough to compete with other qualified advertisers.
  2. Ensuring that bids are not set too high which can result in ads being shown on too loosely relevant of user queries where there is little likelihood of purchase.

Note, we are discussing the automated bidding strategies, which are not to be confused with Google’s Smart Shopping Campaigns.

For information on Google Smart Shopping Campaigns, see my article – New Google Smart Shopping Campaigns – What You Need to Realize.

Types of Automated Bidding Strategies

Google offers six different automated bidding strategies – Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Clicks, Maximize Conversions, Maximize Conversion Value and Target Impressions Share.

All six of these campaigns are available for use in Search campaigns, while only two automated bid strategies are currently available for Shopping campaigns – Target ROAS and Maximize Clicks.

My feeling is that soon all the automated bid strategies will become available in Shopping campaigns. Therefore, even if your Google Ads account is predominantly Shopping campaigns it is advisable to know the difference between the automated bidding strategies and to even test how they work and their effectiveness within your Search campaigns.

TARGET CPA

The lingo – CPA – Stands for Cost per Acquisition. In other words, what is the average amount it costs you to generate a sale.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions possible at the advertiser’s selected cost per acquisition goal.

Where it is available – campaign and ad group levels.

When to use – This strategy works best when you already have an established CPA with over 30 conversions in the last 30 days. You can use this strategy to either lower your CPA or to maximize conversions by setting the Target CPA slightly higher than your last 30-day average. Note, this strategy will remove any location/device bid adjustments that are currently active.

TARGET ROAS

The lingo – ROAS – Stands for Return on Ad Spend. To calculate ROAS divide gross revenue by ad spend.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions possible at the advertiser’s selected ROAS goal.

Where it is available – campaign, ad group and keywords levels. (Shopping & Search Campaigns).

When to use – This strategy works best when you already have an established ROAS with over 50 conversions in the last 30 days. In addition, this strategy makes sense only when conversions have different conversion values.

MAXIMIZE CLICKS

The lingo – A click is calculated each time a user clicks on your ad and is directed to your website.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many visitors as possible to your website within your set budget.

Where it is available – campaign, ad group & keyword levels. (Shopping & Search Campaigns).

When to use – You have a historical high conversion rate and you would like as many visitors as possible sent to your website.

MAXIMIZE CONVERSIONS

The lingo – A conversion is what the advertiser defines as their end goal. For eCommerce retailers this is typically a product purchase. For others, a conversion could be as simple as joining a mailing list.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions within the set budget.

Where it is available – campaign level.

When to use – You have a reasonably large budget and wish to generate as many conversions as possible.

MAXIMIZE CONVERSION VALUE

The lingo – The conversion value is the total value of all conversions.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to gain the maximum conversion value within the set budget.

Where it is available – campaign level.

When to use – You have a reasonably large budget with conversions of drastically different conversion values.

TARGET IMPRESSION SHARE

The lingo – Target impression share is the percentage of time your ads appear at the top of the page.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to generate ad placement at the top of the page as often as possible within the set budget.

Where it is available – campaign level.

When to use – You have a reasonably well performing conversion rates with a reasonably large budget but are struggling with how often your ads appear at the top of the page.

Final Word

You probably have heard the phrase ‘All Roads Lead to Rome’?

This is true when optimizing your Google campaigns, as there are many ways to achieve your goal of conversions. However, although there are many ways to achieve conversions some will perform better than others.

By better, does that mean lowering your cost-per-acquisition or increasing the number of conversions?

The key metrics that matter are going to depend on your goals as an advertiser and how you wish to best utilize Google in your advertising.

However, whether manually optimizing or using one of Google’s automated strategies it will require testing to discover which strategy performs the best based on your advertising goals.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, the founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing, author and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com

Restoring Bid Levels In The New Year {updated 1/6/20}

The holidays have come and gone and if you are a 4th quarter seasonal eCommerce advertiser you most likely increased bids (if not, shame on you) to capture as much traffic and sales as possible during the Q4 crush.

Now that the holidays are over, your conversion rates will typically return to normal levels, yet your bids are still inflated.

So how should you restore your bid levels in the new year in order to generate maximum sales while also generating a healthy ROI?

It depends on your level of involvement in your Google Ads account, but typically you have two choices – either reviewing and adjusting bids manually or using Google’s automated bid strategies to adjust bids. This blog post will look at both options and let you decide on which or perhaps a combination of both will be best suited to re-optimize your account.

Manually Adjusting Bids

If you have sufficient time to dedicate to managing your AdWords account, I would recommend at least in part that you manually adjust bids especially for best-sellers and higher margin items.  By manually adjusting bids, advertisers can determine which campaigns are still producing a high conversion rate using seasonal bid rates, while also determining issues other than the time of year that may account for lower conversion rates. 

Examples, of issues that can negatively affect conversion rates include lack of inventory, competitor discounting and other on-page factors such as out of date pages or availability language.

By manually adjusting bids rather than relying on Google bid strategies, advertisers can account for these “other issues” when reviewing and ultimately determining whether to return bids to pre-holiday levels or leave bids at inflated holiday levels. 

A downside of manually adjusting bids is that advertisers need to have enough data in order to enact proper decision making.  While waiting for data to accumulate, CPA can sometimes increase much higher than in Q4.  However, waiting and incurring this cost can often be worthwhile in discovering items that will produce a solid ROI throughout the year despite continuing to use higher Q4 optimized bids.

Let’s look at an example from one of my clients:

During December because of optimizing and ultimately increasing bids, the Military Campaign for one of my private clients skyrocketed accounting for 87 sales cumulative $3,000 in revenue; a 5.5% conversion rate; $11.54 CPA and a ROAS (rate on advertising spend) of approximately 3. It also had an average cost per click of $0.63.

Note, in order to easily look at various campaigns it is a best-practice to clearly define each campaign and to properly segment campaigns in order to not only be able to easily view past results, but also to be able to adjust various settings. For a review on the importance of segmenting campaigns for Google Shopping Campaigns review my article – How Segmenting Google Shopping Campaigns Can Boost Profitability.

For this Campaign, I originally segmented it from the rest of the Google Shopping Campaigns in mid-September of last year.  Here is how it performed in October: 10 sales cumulative $402; a 2.18% conversion rate; $16.61 CPA and a ROAS of 2.4.  It also had an average cost per click of $0.36.

One would assume that once the holiday shopping frenzy is complete that it would make sense to decrease bids to pre-holiday levels for this Campaign ($0.36 vs $0.63). 

However, before automatically lowering bids, I continued to allow the Campaign to run as is for another 2 weeks after Christmas to see how it would perform post-holidays with holiday bids.  Here were the results: 14 sales cumulative $333 sales; a 4.73% conversion rate; $6.03 CPA and a ROAS of 3.96. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, an average cost per click of $0.29 (that is a lower CPC than before the bids were raised and optimized during the holidays).

So what happened?  By optimizing and increasing bids during the holidays for products within this Shopping campaign, those products performed so well that they began to receive clicks at a lower price than the bid.  Remember, Google’s quality score?  If not, make sure you read my article – Why Google Advertisers Need to Know Their Quality Score.

After the holidays, product ads in this campaign continued to receive clicks below the bid value and are still attaining click share and impression share at holiday levels which is helping to account for a conversion rate almost as high the two weeks after Christmas as the three weeks preceding Christmas.

What should we do with this campaign?

That is a great question and why optimizing campaigns is never dull and should never use a set it and forget it strategy. It will take deeper investigation to determine which products are performing well inside the campaign and to determine if there are any products not performing up to a desired level and adjust those bids accordingly.

However, one thing is certain; bids should not be unilaterally lowered on this campaign now that the holidays are over. In fact, it might be wise to test raising bids to gain even more click and impression share.

Google’s Automated Bidding Strategies

What should you do if you don’t have the time to dedicate to each of your campaigns or at least not to your “lesser important” campaigns? 

If advertisers don’t have the needed time to dedicate to each Google Ads Campaign, they have the option of using Google’s automated bidding strategies to help ensure their spend remains aligned with their ROI goals for both Search and Shopping Campaigns.

Another option is to simply migrate existing Shopping Campaigns into Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. However, before this is done advertisers will need to be aware of the pitfalls of using Smart Shopping Campaigns. You can read more in my article – New Google Smart Shopping Campaigns – What You Need to Realize

However, by using Google’s bidding strategies although advertisers will forfeit the ability to dive into what factors other than bid may be affecting ROI and conversion rates they will not lose the ability to eliminate unwanted searches through the use of negative keywords.

Even though not typically preferred in use with my private clients, a campaign optimized using Google’s ‘Smart’ technology is far superior to a campaign left unattended. 

For Search Campaigns, Google offers the following automated bid strategies: Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize clicks, Maximize conversions, Maximize conversion value and Target Impression Share.

Target CPA – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions possible at the advertiser’s selected cost per acquisition goal.

Target ROAS – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions possible at the advertiser’s selected return on ad spend goal.

Maximize Clicks – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many clicks as possible within an advertiser’s daily budget.

Maximize Conversions – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions as possible within an advertiser’s daily budget.

Maximize Conversion Value – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as much conversion value as possible within an advertiser’s daily budget.

Target Impression Share – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get the highest search impression share possible within an advertiser’s daily budget.

Automated bid strategies can be changed once selected through the settings link. However, it is advised to allow time (typically at least 2 weeks) for a bidding strategy to have enough data before judging its success or failure and definitely before making a change to a different strategy.

Automated Shopping Strategies

For Shopping campaigns, the automated bidding strategies are a bit more limited, although those available work in the same way.

Target ROAS – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions possible at the advertiser’s selected return on ad spend goal.

Maximize Clicks – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many clicks as possible within an advertiser’s daily budget.

Note, currently there is not a way to migrate a campaign from a Standard Shopping campaign to a Smart Shopping campaign. Therefore, if an advertiser would like to test a Smart Shopping campaign they will need to recreate the campaign and select Smart Shopping during campaign setup.

Final Word

I hope you didn’t think that now that the holidays were over that you could put your feet up and relax? The fact is that the beginning of the year is a critical time to optimize your Google Ads Campaigns. Having a good start to the new year can set a successful tone for the entire year.

Remember that whether reviewing your campaigns manually or creating automated bid strategies that will allow Google to automatically optimize your bids, putting a plan in place is essential and should be done immediately.  Without a plan, advertisers will likely waste budget that can be used for additional advertising throughout month and throughout the year.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, the founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing, author and certified online marketing strategist with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com

Merging Retargeting With Search Campaigns

Google Retargeting or Google Remarketing (the terms are interchangeable) is the process of using Google’s technology to advertise to customers who have already visited a website or a specific section of a website.  Generally, when an advertiser thinks of retargeting they envision those image ads for websites they have previously visited that ‘magically’ appear for a product or service when a user is surfing other websites.  This is indeed the most common use of retargeting and can be quite effective, see my blog post – Google Remarketing – What It Is, Why Use Google.

However, Google retargeting list (called audiences) can also be incorporated into search campaigns. By merging a Google search campaign with a retargeting list, advertisers can increase or decrease bids for their search ads when those ads appear to users that have previously visited their website. 

Why Is This Beneficial?

As we have stated previously, on average 97% of visitors leave a website without converting.  This holds true for ecommerce as well as professional service advertisers.  Many of these potential customers will subsequently return to Google and perform a related if not the exact same search. By merging retargeting with search, advertisers have the ability to increase their bids on these return searchers and thus increase their ad rank by targeting those customers who have previously visited their website. 

Customers who visit a website multiple times have been found to have a higher conversion rate.  In addition, ads shown to customers who have previously visited a website have also been found to have higher click through rates (CTR) which increases quality score, another factor in boosting ad rank.  For additional information on quality score, refer to my blog post – Why Advertisers Need To Know Their Quality Score.

T.O.P. AdWords Campaign Review & Ratings SystemCreating A Retargeting List

The first step is to create a retargeting list. There are two ways to create retargeting list with Google, either by using the Google AdWords interface with Audiences which is found under Shared library or through Google Analytics.  Both will work and as long as Google Analytics is properly linked to an AdWords account. Once the retargeting list is created in Analytics the retargeting list will display in the Shared library in Google AdWords just as if it was created using Google AdWords.

Creating a retargeting list in Google Analytics I feel is more user friendly and provides a few more options, so for this example that is the method we will focus.

In order to create the retargeting list in Google Analytics, first open Google Analytics and click on the Admin tab in the upper menu.

Admin Tab In Google AnalyticsIn the second column, the Property column, click on Remarketing and then Audiences. An advertiser will first need to click on Remarketing which will drop down a secondary list that contains the Audiences option.

Google Analytics - Remarketing OptionOnce the Audiences window opens, an advertiser will need to click on the +New Audience button to create a new campaign or select an existing audience if they wish to make changes to an audience that currently exists.

Analytics - New AudienceThe first thing an advertiser will then be asked to select is which AdWords account they would like the retargeting list to be associated.  This is going to be vital for advertisers with multiple AdWords accounts. In addition, this process allows advertisers to ensure their AdWords and Analytics accounts are properly linked.

Linking Analytics & Google AdWordsAn advertiser is then directed to define their audience (retargeting list). Here, Google gives some common suggestions for use including: Smart List, All Users, New Users, Returning Users, Users who visit a specific section of the website, Users who completed a goal conversion and Users who completed a transaction.

Defining an Audience in remarketing listGoogle’s list is merely suggestions and will populate the first rule based on the criteria of list selected.  However, Google’s Audience Builder is customizable and allows all lists to be defined on a wide number of attributes including: Demographics, Technology, Behavior, Date of First Session, Traffic Sources and Ecommerce.

The Audience Builder also allows an advertiser to combine multiple attributes based on whom they would like to have included within their remarketing list.

Using Google's Audience BuilderBelow is a list I created for a client that contains All Users that have never made a transaction with a membership duration (how long a customer will remain in the list) of 30 days.

Google Retargeting - No Conversion ListDeciding on the attributes that will create a remarketing list can be challenging, yet fun.  Think of what type of potential customers you would be willing to pay more to reengage and test for results. The possibilities are only limited by your traffic and your creativity.

Once a new list has been saved, it is ready for use for traditional remarketing or it can be incorporated into bidding for Google search.

Incorporating Your Retargeting List With Google Search

Now that we have a retargeting list, let’s look at how to integrate it into a Google search campaign.  Note, a retargeting list will need to have sufficient members in order to be eligible for use.  If it is a new list, it will take time before the audience is eligible for use in search.

Assuming there is a large enough audience within the retargeting list to use in search, the first step is for an advertiser is to open the AdWords Ad Group they wish to apply the retargeting list and click on the Audiences tab.

Google AdWords - Audiences TabOnce in the Audiences tab, select the red +Remarketing button in order to add a remarketing audience.

Google AdWords - Adding Remarketing ListOnce this window opens, an advertiser has 3 options: Targeting, Ad group exclusions and Campaign exclusions. The Targeting drop down is what allows a retargeting list to be added in order to adjust bids.  The other 2 options will stop ads from showing to a particular audience, so make sure the Targeting drop down is selected.

Once the Targeting drop down has been selected a sub-menu will display showing Interests & remarketing.

Google AdWords Interest & RemarketingNext an advertiser needs to select the remarketing list they wish to adjust bids. By clicking on the double arrow next to the name, the list will move into a selected column displayed to the right of rest of the lists (if multiple remarketing lists are available).

Google AdWords - Selecting A Remarketing ListClick the blue save button at the bottom of the screen and voila, done.  An advertiser now has the ability to adjust bids to those users who are contained within a specific retargeting list.

T.O.P. AdWords Campaign Review & Ratings SystemIn order to adjust bids, an advertiser needs to click on the dash in the Bid adj category and select the amount they wish to increase (or decrease) their bid to those customers.

Google AdWords - Bid Adjustment

Note, bid adjustments are done in terms of percentage.  For example, if an advertiser increases their bid 30%, a $1 bid will become $1.30 for customers in the retargeting audience searching keywords contained within the applicable Ad Group. Also note that bid adjustments done within the audience tab work in conjunction with other advanced bid adjustments including location, ad schedule and device. For additional information on adjusting those bids, review my blog post – Optimizing Google Campaigns For Mobile.

Summary –

Incorporating retargeting audiences into search campaign is an effective way for an advertiser to have their ads more prominently displayed to those users more likely to convert. By paying a fractional increase per click, advertisers can see dramatic increases in sales coming from those users that have previously visited their website.

In addition, adding retargeting audiences to search can provide advertisers with a competitive advantage over their competitors who simply bid the same for each keyword regardless of whom it is displaying.

As with best-practices when using an advanced technique, it should always be tested.  Test the audience and test the bid to optimize for maximum results. Through ongoing work with my clients, I have found that with the proper implementation and testing this advanced technique has the potential to provide a nice boost to a Google search campaign’s ROI.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing discovery sessions to those interested. Call True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 or schedule online.

Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.

Strategies For Determining Bids In Google AdWords

When advertising with Google AdWords, advertisers must determine the maximum they are willing to spend each time a user clicks on one of their ads (known as the bid).  Advertisers have the option to set the same bid for all keywords within an entire campaign; optimize bids on a keyword level based on past results or turn over the bidding strategy to Google’s automated bid management system. 

Once an advertiser’s bids are in place along with all other required settings, an advertiser’s ads are eligible to appear on Google’s Search and/or Display Networks. 

What Determines The Order That Ads Appear?

The number of ads Google displays depends on the search query and device used to perform the search. Typically, Google displays between 5-8 ads for desktop devices and 1-5 ads for mobile devices.  For desktop devices, the first 1-3 ads appear on the top above the natural (organic) listings and the remainder of ads will appear on the right side of the page beneath the Shopping listings, if present.  For mobile devices, only 1-2 ads are typically displayed on top of the first page above the organic listings and shopping results, if present. The remainder of ads (if served at all) will appear on the bottom of the page below the organic listings.

In determining the order that ads appear, Google runs a real-time auction using eligible advertiser’s bids in conjunction with eligible advertiser’s quality score to determine which order to display ads. This post focuses exclusively on bid strategies; however quality score is equally important.  For more information on quality score refer to the blog post – Why Advertisers Need To Know Their Quality Score.

T.O.P. AdWords Campaign Review & Ratings SystemDeciding On A Bidding Strategy

When determining a keyword bid strategy, advertisers must first decide whether to set their own bids or turn over control and let Google determine the bid strategy within the confines of a daily budget. 

For advertiser’s who have the time and knowledge to optimize their campaigns, determining their own bids is recommended.  However, for advertisers with limited time, limited knowledge or both, allowing Google to optimize bids is a viable option.

If directed, Google will either automatically optimize bids on a CPC (cost per click) or CPA (cost per acquisition) basis known as their Enhanced CPC option or an advertiser may select a flexible bid strategy. Although Google has made changes to their algorithm, even the most sophisticated algorithm is not going to be able to typically match the results that can be achieved with attentive hands-on maintenance.  In addition, although it benefits Google to have their advertiser’s successful; it also benefits Google to have advertiser’s increase their ad spend. So is Google optimizing for Google or the advertiser?  The truth is probably both, but this idea should not be overlooked and is a key question when turning over bid strategy to Google.

Setting Initial Bids In Google AdWordsFor advertiser’s who decide to manage their own bids, the first step is to determine the default bid and campaign budget.  This is determined at the campaign settings level even before creating either ads or keywords.

Determining Initial Budget In Google AdWordsOnce a campaign has been configured, Google provides a number of customizable tools that can be used to determine initial keyword bids.  These tools are accessed by customizing the columns when viewing keywords to include Est First Page Bid and Est Top Page Bid.

In order to customize columns, go to the Keywords tab and click on the Columns button. Then, select modify columns.  Under the Attributes metrics at the bottom of the list is the Est first page bid and Est top page bid.  Click on the blue Add link, set the display order and apply. 

Customizing Columns In Google AdWordsKeywords will now display the columns for minimum bids required for ads to be eligible to display on either the first page or in the top position.  Note, a high quality score can substantially reduce the bid needed to have ads displayed, so I also recommended customizing columns to include Qual. Score.

Once an advertiser is aware of where the minimum bid should be set in order to appear on the first page and the top position, optimizing becomes a task of testing and collection enough historical data to make educated decisions.  It is not recommended to go below the first page; however, it is also not always necessary to be in the top position.  The ad rank position that is going to provide an advertiser with the biggest bang for the buck is going to be different from advertiser to advertiser and only testing will be able to reveal the optimal ad rank position.

Another great tool when customizing columns in order to determine bids is found under the Competitive metrics.  These tools are the Search Impr.  share, Search Exact match IS and Search Lost IS (rank) columns. Together, these 3 columns when combined with historical data allow an advertiser to look at what percentage of traffic their current bids are capturing and provide the information needed to change bids when needed.

Adding Competitive Metrics In Google AdWordsBidding For Mobile

Remember for mobile devices, Google typically only is going to display 1-2 ads on the top of the first page. Therefore for advertisers wishing to have their ads display on mobile, it is critical to keep track of their keyword’s average page position.

Average position is one of the default columns when reviewing Google data and can be viewed either at the Ad Group or at the Keywords tabs. However, the data that is shown by default is for all devices.  In order to see data segmented by device, an advertiser must use the Google segment feature.  In order to split data by device, first go to the Segment button and select the Device option in the drop down.

Segmenting Traffic Data By Device In Google AdWordsOnce segmented by device, advertisers in addition to being able to determine traffic, conversions, costs, etc, will also be able to view average position.

If the average position for mobile devices is not within the top two, then a bid adjustment is recommended.  However, it is not necessary to change the entire bid for all devices.  If an advertiser wishes to raise the bid and subsequently the average position on mobile only, that is possible.

In order to change the bid for mobile only, go to the settings tab for the campaign that is to be adjusted and select the Device sub-tab.

Device Bid Adjustment In Google AdWords

Bid adjustments can then be made by clicking on the Bid adj. column next to the device an advertiser wishes to change.  The change of either increasing or decreasing is done in terms of percentage.  For example, the setting in the image above has a bid adjustment of -10%.  In this example, if the standard bid is set at $1 for mobile devices, the maximum bid will be $0.90.

T.O.P. AdWords Campaign Review & Ratings SystemSummary –

The amount an advertiser is willing to bid is one-half of the formula that Google uses to determine ad rank.  Only diligent testing over time will help advertisers determine the optimal bid rate for keywords. It is critical that advertisers put in the work to make sure they have their keywords set at an optimal bid rate to provide the highest possible ROI.  Too low of a bid will not generate appropriate levels of traffic and too high of a bid will generate more traffic, but the costs could be too expensive.  Fortunately, as described above, Google provides all of the tools advertisers need to optimize their bidding across all devices.

For additional information on the second half of the ad rank formula, see our blog post – Why Advertisers Need To Know Their Quality Score.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing discovery sessions to those interested. Call True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 to schedule.

Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.