Google Ads is a very unique form of advertisement. It allows you to show your ads online when users search for keywords you identify. No matter your product or service, no matter where you’re located, you can run Google Ads to put your message in front of the right eyes. And with so many text ad, image ad and video ad options, there’s always a way to target specific audiences with ads you know will perform well.
Despite all of its exclusive features, its core principles remain the same. More than anything else, Google Ads wants you to maintain as much control over your ad spend as possible. In fact, that’s one of the platform’s best features: it allows you to choose your own keywords, and identify how much you want to spend on an individual keyword basis.
Beyond per-keyword spend, Google Ads also allows you to choose the bidding strategy that best accommodates your campaigns. Depending on the bidding strategy you choose for each campaign, Google Ads changes the way your available budget is spent.
Why Do I Need to Select a Bidding Strategy in Google Ads?
In general, when you walk into a store, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for. You’re there for groceries, or clothing, or house supplies, or any number of items worth the trip. If you walk into a store without a shopping list, you run the risk of buying items on a whim – likely items you never really needed.
Similarly, those stores know how they want to format products in the store so that they sell well. It is this relationship between buyer, seller, and location where the sale takes place that makes for successful transactions where all parties benefit.
If you haven’t guessed, this same concept applies when it comes to Google Ads. Your shoppers know what they’re looking for even before they see your ad, and you should know what you’re selling and how you want to sell it before they “enter the store”. This decision takes the form of a specific bidding strategy – how specifically you’d like to bid for users’ attention online.
There’s one question you can answer that helps you determine the best bidding strategy for your business. Here it is: what’s the goal of these campaigns? In other words, are you looking primarily to generate sales? Are you looking primarily to make more people aware of your products or services? Are you looking primarily to promote an upcoming sale or event? Are you looking primarily to drive newsletter, webinar or program sign-ups?
The answer to this question will govern your decision as to the best Google Ads bidding strategy for you. Reference the most popular bidding strategies below, to identify the best options for all of your campaigns.
1. Cost-per-Click (Manual, Automated & Enhanced)
We’ve packaged the first 3 bidding strategies together, given how popular and closely-related they are. Individually known as Manual CPC, Automated CPC and Enhanced CPC, cost-per-click (CPC) bidding strategies offer the opportunity to identify bid preference on an individual keyword basis. If you’re looking to maximize the value of your dollar, and maintain close control on bid price across the board, consider a cost-per-click bidding strategy.
For the most control over CPC metrics, take a look at Manual CPC bidding. This bidding strategy allows you to define the maximum amount of money you’d like the account to spend for every single keyword in your campaign. While deploying this bidding strategy requires more up-front work and increased hands-on maintenance once the campaign goes live and requires optimization, it also allows you to retain the most control over where you spend your money, and why.
Conversely, Automated CPC offers a more streamlined, data-controlled approach to cost-per-click bidding. The focus on individual click value remains the same, but the Google Ads platform shoulders the burden of setting individual CPC metrics for you. Google Ads’ artificial learning automatically sets cost-per-click bids for all of the keywords in your campaign, based on their likelihood to generate a click or drive a conversion. This leaves you free to address higher-level account concerns, without the need to set and maintain individual keyword bids.
As a caveat to Automated CPC bidding, the Enhanced CPC bidding strategy performs one final step before your ads appear in search engine results. Under the Enhanced CPC bidding strategy, your bid is eligible for an automated increase, in order to beat out a competitor ad if the Google Ads platform believes that that keyword or click is especially likely to generate a conversion. You can set your bids manually at the beginning of the campaign, and then trust Google’s automated bidding process to take over.
2. Maximize Conversions
If you’re all about the bottom line, Google’s Maximize Conversion bidding strategy is perfect for you and your ads. Under the Maximize Conversions bidding strategy, Google Ads automatically sets and adjusts your bids during the duration of your campaign’s life. Bids will be automatically raised or lowered on a per-click basis, based on how likely that individual is to ultimately convert.
One item to note: this is likely not the best bidding strategy to deploy at the onset of your campaign. The value of the Maximize Conversions bidding strategy is in its learning process over time: the bidding strategy gradually learns which types of users and audiences convert most frequently, and targets your ads and available spend toward those demographics. As a result, we suggest launching your ads under a bidding strategy that initially offers you more overall control over your bids. Once the account has begun to regularly generate conversions, feel free to switch over to the automated Maximize Conversions strategy, for more bottom-line sales and less need for hands-on control.
3. Maximize Conversion Value
Unlike the above Maximize Conversions bidding strategy, which helps to optimize your campaign for conversions alone, the Maximize Conversion Value bidding strategy uses automation to help you profitably scale. What does this mean? It means that even as the Maximize Conversion Value bidding strategy targets conversions, it helps you maintain profit margins, attempting to distance total revenue from total costs.
In addition, this bidding strategy allows you to set specific price points for your products or services. More than simply attempting to maximize total conversions, the Maximize Conversion Value bidding strategy keeps product value in mind when targeting potential customers. For brands with tighter sales margins, the Maximize Conversion Value bidding strategy works well to keep costs in line with overall revenue.
4. Maximize Impression Share
Sometimes, your campaign will actually perform better when your bidding strategy focuses on where the ad is seen, as a more important metric than how many conversions can be generated. Especially when you advertise in a highly-competitive market, the Maximize Impression Share bidding strategy can prove to be a difference-maker.
When you deploy the Maximize Impression Share bidding strategy, Google Ads sets out to show your ads as high in search results as possible, achieving absolutely top-of-page rank if possible. All you need to do is identify your target impression share – the number of impressions (views) your ads will receive, expressed as a ratio over the total number of impressions you are eligible to receive.
Keep in mind that you need to find a balance when it comes to impression share: if you spend too much of your daily budget on exposure, you’ll compromise ranking. If you spend too little of your budget, your ads will show higher in search results, but too infrequently to gain traction. As a result, this bidding strategy is often best used after the campaign has been live for some time, so the ads manager understands appropriate cost-per-click metrics.
5. Target ROAS
If return on ad spend (ROAS) is the chief metric you’ll be gauging after you take ads live, you might want to consider the Target ROAS bidding strategy. At the time your ads go live, the Google Ads platform automatically optimizes bids each time they are eligible to be seen. Ads are primarily shown to consumers with a demonstrated history of past conversions, preserving your overall return on ad spend in the process.
By fully automating your bids for each auction, the Target ROAS bidding strategy allows you to identify and tailor the individual ROAS you’re looking to achieve (expressed as a percentage). This bidding strategy is especially useful when you’re looking to manage multiple shopping campaigns, each with specific product values you’re looking to maintain.
6. Target CPA
If your Google Ads campaigns can drive consistent action on your website, your Google Ads strategies are always going to be successful. That’s why the Target CPA bidding strategy was created: to help generate a favorable amount of user actions below a certain average price point.
Target CPA, short for Target Cost-per-Action, is an automated bidding strategy that sells your bids at low average costs, to qualified consumers. It operates with a goal of driving specific action sets (purchases, sign-ups, phone calls, etc.) at price points you identify. Known for allowing accounts to profitably scale, the Target CPA bidding strategy looks to generate as many total conversions as possible, without compromising on the average cost-per-action you define.
With so many options, which Google Ads bidding strategy should I choose?
We understand how difficult it can be to choose just one Google Ads bidding strategy for each of your campaigns. And while we have a few suggestions – make your bidding strategies with your keywords in mind, check bidding strategy performance at least once a week, etc. – here’s the reality: this is an important decision for your business. Make the right decision, and you can watch your ads flourish; make the wrong decision, and your ads might fail before they ever had a chance to succeed.
If you’re at all apprehensive about choosing the right bidding strategy, here’s the good news: our in-house Google Ads specialists regularly fulfill this process. We not only have years of experience launching comprehensive Google Ads accounts, but we have the metrics and trust to back up continued spend with continually successful, satisfied clients. Reach out today for a FREE, no-pressure Google Ads audit, and we’ll help you identify the right bidding strategies for your account whether you’ve started creating it or not. From bidding strategies to keyword integration, ad copy to ongoing optimization, we’ll help you make sure that your Google Ads account yields a return worth the effort.