Marketers fear automation, but Smart Bidding is a great example of how it actually helps.
Teeming with data and interactions, Smart Bidding uses machine learning to create optimal bid strategies. And because it saves both time and money, it’s quickly become an important part of PPC.
But there’s a (literally) dark side to it as well.
Smart Bidding means surrendering control to the black box of Google’s AI, with strategies that simply don’t allow you to tweak aspects of them to your specifications. Simply put, you input your goals and Google uses your account’s past behavior to produce results.
What do you do when you want the convenience of Smart Bidding but don’t want to give up control? You turn to a tool like Optmyzr.
Here are 10 ways Optmyzr customers use our platform to retain control when they use Smart Bidding.
Understanding how automated bidding works
The keystone of AI or machine learning is the data the system uses to make decisions and predictions. In the same vein, the success of automated bidding strategies depends on the quality of the performance data that system is able to collect. This in turn depends on how your account is set up.
The performance of badly structured campaigns cannot be improved by putting them on an automated bidding strategy.
A good account structure and the right attribution model are vital to the success of any automated bidding strategy. If you’re using last click attribution, either change to another attribution model or run manual bidding.
Campaigns that run on automated bidding strategies need to be optimized in order to have the right data to work with. In theory, the only thing Google takes care of is setting bids — only one aspect of managing an account.
The rest is still on you.
Automated bidding is not a ‘set it and forget it’ deal. However, with bidding out of the picture, you’ll have more time for other tasks — the kind of search queries you want to show for, or the messaging you want to use in your ads.
1. Search Query Management
Search queries are still the primary source of traffic for search campaigns, so it’s important to monitor the ones your ads show for so you can remove irrelevant ones (add them as negative keywords). It’s also a good idea to add high-performing search queries as keywords because you can write more specific ads for them.
Optmyzr Tools Used: Keyword Lasso, Search Terms n-Grams, Negative Keyword Finder
2. Quality Score Optimization
Optimizing to increase Quality Score is one way to reduce your CPA and increase ROAS. Even though Google is automatically setting your bids in the auction, a high Quality Score requires a lower bid.
In other words, you pay less for each click.
Find keywords in your account with low Quality Score and move them to their own SKAGs with the more specific ads. Or, pause them if they have an irredeemable quality score of 1.
Optmyzr Tools Used: Quality Score Tracker, Rule Engine
3. Creating Ad Schedules
This isn’t about setting bid adjustments for different times of the week; your automated bidding strategy already does that. We’re talking about allocating campaign budgets to the more lucrative times of day by turning your ads off when they’re not profitable, making it something of a budget optimization.
Optmyzr Tools Used: Hour of Week Analysis, Hour of Week Bid Adjustments
4. Non-Converting Keywords
Pause keywords that have not converted in a long time but have accrued significant cost. This optimization should only be done if you aren’t running on last click attribution. Otherwise, you’ll pause top-of-funnel keywords and eventually reduce conversions.
Optmyzr Tools Used: Non-Converting Keywords, Rule Engine
5. Budget Optimization
You did budget optimizations before automated bidding, and you should continue to do them now. Reallocating budgets across campaigns based on performance helps improve overall account ROAS.
Check if high-performing campaigns are losing impression share due to budget, and increase their budget by giving them money from underperforming campaigns.
Optmyzr Tools Used: Spend Projection, Optimize Budgets
6. Tweaking Targets
If you’re running on the standard automated bidding strategy (target CPA and target ROAS), you can tweak targets at the ad group level. There are two instances where I’d recommend doing this:
- A sudden change in business or an upcoming event like a sale requires you to tweak targets. It’s a way of telling the system that you want more or less traffic when there’s a sudden change in patterns the system is unaware of. For example, if your business has a sale over the weekend and you want to drive more traffic to your campaigns, increase CPA targets over the weekend and then scale them back down once the sale is over.
Optmyzr Tools Used: Optimize Target CPA & ROAS, Rule Engine
- Day-to day optimizations to increase conversions. Some common optimizations you can do are:
Increase target CPA for ad groups that are converting but losing impression share due to ad rank. For campaigns running on target ROAS, reduce ROAS. This is the same as increasing bids for high-converting keywords when campaigns are on manual bidding. It enables Google to bid more to drive more conversions.
Reduce target CPA or increase ROAS for ad groups whose actual CPA and ROAS are significantly better than the target and whose impression share is already more than 70%. This reduces the chances of Google buying very expensive traffic when the automated bidding system thinks there’s room to increase CPA and win more traffic.
7. A/B Testing Ads & Updating Messaging
Ad text automation is probably one of the last things that will happen in PPC — writing ads always involves subjectivity and creativity. Responsive Search Ads are a step in that direction, but they only combine headlines and description lines; you still have to write them.
This is why it’s important to continually A/B test ads — so you can remove underperforming ones and keep messaging fresh.
Optmyzr Tools Used: A/B Testing, Ad Text Optimization
8. Performance Monitoring & Alerts
Perhaps one of the most important things you can do is set up alerts to notify you of sudden changes in traffic, conversions, CPA, ROAS, or any other KPI that’s important to you.
This helps you stay on top of your campaigns, especially when something doesn’t go as expected. For example, if the CPA for a campaign suddenly shoots up, you’ll want to see why it happened and take appropriate action.
Optmyzr Tools Used: Alerts on the MCC dashboard, Rule Engine
9. Performance Audits of Automated Bid Strategies
Knowing when to pivot is critical to success, be it in PPC or any other business. It’s a good idea to regularly check on the performance of your campaigns’ bidding strategies to see if you need to pivot.
For example, if a campaign is running to maximize conversions, it might be time to move it to target CPA and ROAS. You can also see if certain campaigns on automated bidding strategies aren’t driving enough conversions and move them to manual bidding for a while.
Optmyzr Tools Used: PPC Audits, Rule Engine
10. Structural Account Audits
Regular account audits are so important for good structure. Check for things like too many keywords in an ad group, too few ads, campaigns with not enough negative keywords, or campaigns missing site links.
This ensures that campaigns in your account have a solid foundation on which automated bidding strategies can do what they’re capable of.
Optmyzr Tools Used: PPC Audits
We live in a world where competition is fierce and standards are demanding. PPC marketers rely on automated bidding more than ever to do more in less time. What automated bidding lacks intuition and human understanding, you can provide by optimizing your campaigns.
Help it help you.
There’s no one way to win with automated bidding, but Optmyzr offers several tools that allow you to layer your own automation over what the ad engines provide. If you don’t have Optmyzr, try our platform free for 14 days with access to all features.