Determining a bid strategy based on your goals

AdWords offers several bid strategies that are tailored to different types of campaigns. Depending on which networks your campaign is targeting, and whether you want to focus on getting clicks, impressions, or conversions, you can determine which strategy is best for you.

  • Drive customers to your website with cost-per-click bidding (manual or automatic).
  • Ensure customers see your message with cost-per-impression bidding.
  • Maximize conversions on your site with cost-per-acquisition bidding.

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Each bid strategy is suited for different kinds of campaigns and advertising goals. For the purposes of bidding, you'll want to consider three basic types of goals, along with your current campaign settings.

  • If you want to generate traffic to your website, focusing on clicks could be ideal for you. Cost-per-click (CPC) bidding -- manual or automatic -- may be right for your campaign.
  • If you want to increase brand awareness -- not drive traffic to your site -- focusing on impressions may be your strategy. You can use cost per thousand impression (CPM) bidding to put your message in front of customers.
  • If you want customers to take a direct action on your site, and you're using conversion tracking, then it may be best to focus on conversions. Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bidding lets you do that.

Tip

Save time and effort on managing your bids by trying flexible bid strategies. You’ll be able to apply bid optimization more strategically to entire campaigns or specific ad groups and keywords (where applicable) of your choice. How to use flexible bid strategies.

Focus on clicks with CPC bidding

If you're focusing on gaining clicks to generate traffic to your website, there are two cost-per-click bid strategies you should consider:

  • Automatic CPC bidding is the simplest and most commonly used bid strategy. All you have to do is set a daily budget, and the AdWords system automatically manages your bids to bring you the most clicks possible within your budget.
  • Manual CPC bidding is the default strategy to let you manage your maximum CPC bids yourself. You can set different bids for each ad group in your campaign, or for individual keywords or placements. If you've found that certain keywords or placements are more profitable, you can use manual bidding to allocate more of your advertising budget to those keywords or placements.
More about automatic CPC bidding

Automatic CPC bidding could be a good option for you if the following describes your campaign:

  • You have an advertising budget you'd like to reach consistently.
  • You don't want to spend time monitoring and updating individual cost-per-click (CPC) bids, and you're willing to let the AdWords system update CPC bids automatically.
  • You're mainly interested in increasing website traffic.
  • You're new to AdWords or don't know exactly how much to bid for particular keywords or placements.

Automatic bidding isn't a good choice for you if your advertising goals include maintaining a specific ad position or cost per conversion. It isn't possible to set individual CPC bids with automatic bidding, but you can set a maximum CPC bid for your entire campaign.

Example

You have a website that sells a variety of art supplies, and your main goal is to bring more customers to your site. You have a set amount that you want to spend on advertising each month, and there isn't a particular product you want to emphasize most. Automatic CPC bidding lets you decide the overall amount of your budget, then we'll find you the most customers based on that.

More about manual CPC bidding

With manual CPC bidding, you can fine-tune your maximum CPC bids to help control the cost and volume of clicks on your ads. Manual CPC bidding could be a good choice for you if your campaign fits this description:

  • You'd like to control maximum CPC bids for individual ad groups, keywords, or placements.
  • You're mainly interested in increasing website traffic, not necessarily brand awareness.
  • You don't need to reach a target budget every month. (If you do need to reach a target budget, automatic bidding may be a better choice.)
  • Your campaign targets the Search Network, the Display Network, or both.

If you're not sure which keywords or placements are most profitable, or if you don't have time to devote to managing manual bids, automatic bidding is probably a better fit for you.

Example

Although your website sells a wide range of art supplies, you're most interested in selling paint brushes. With manual CPC bidding, even if your ad group has 15 keywords, you can choose to set a higher bid for only the keyword "paint brushes," which will apply whenever that keyword triggers your ad.

Focus on impressions with manual CPM bidding

Manual bidding for impressions, also known as CPM bidding, lets you control the visibility of your ads by fine-tuning your maximum CPM bids.

Here are some cases in which we'd recommend manual CPM bidding:

  • Your campaign type is "Display Network only - Remarketing", not Google Search Network.
  • Your ads are designed to increase awareness, but not necessarily generate clicks or traffic.
  • You prefer the traditional industry metrics of CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) campaigns.
  • You're targeting particular placements, not just keywords. (Combined with placement targeting, bidding for impressions can help ensure your ads appear to a specific audience that will be interested in your ads.)
  • You're mainly interested in increasing brand awareness. Image ads and other multimedia formats often serve that purpose best, and these ad formats run on the Display Network.
  • Your message is in the ad itself, so you don't need people to click through to your site. This may apply to events (such as a television premiere) or political advertising.

Manual CPM bidding probably isn't for you if the goal of your campaign is a direct response from customers, like buying a product or filling out a form.

Example

You're giving a free concert in Paris, and want to get as many music lovers to come as possible. You're running a campaign with vibrant image ads that share the date, time, and location of the event -- everything a music fan needs to know to show up. As long as people see your ad, they'll know your whole message. CPM bidding can help you get it in front of as many eyes as possible.

Focus on conversions with CPA bidding

CPA (cost-per-acquisition) bidding is an advanced option that lets you bid directly for conversions.

Your campaign must meet a few requirements in order to be eligible to use CPA bidding:

  • You have conversion tracking enabled.
  • Your campaign has received at least 15 conversions in the last 30 days. The AdWords system requires this conversion history in order to make accurate predictions about your future conversion rate.
  • Your campaign has been receiving conversions at a similar rate for at least a few days.
  • Your campaign targets the Search Network, the Display Network, or both.

We also recommend your account meet these criteria:

  • Your campaign has been using conversion tracking for at least two weeks. The AdWords system relies on historical conversion data, so the longer conversion tracking has been running, the more data the system has and the better job it can do optimizing your ROI. If your campaign receives low traffic, we suggest running conversion tracking even longer before trying CPA bidding.
  • Your campaign is direct-response oriented. For example, the campaign focuses on generating sign-ups or sales on an e-commerce website.
  • Your campaign has a single well-defined conversion type, such as a completed purchase or sign-up.
  • Your campaign has a relatively stable conversion rate, with no major changes (such as redefining the conversion event or moving the conversion tracking code) within the last two weeks.

Note

If your campaign is already using CPA bidding and it drops below 15 conversions in the last 30 days, CPA bidding will remain enabled unless you turn it off. However, if you stop using CPA bidding, you won't be able to enable it again until you've reached the requirement.

Choose or change your bid strategy

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
  2. In the Campaigns list, click the campaign name.
  3. Select the Settings tab.
  4. Click Edit next to the bid strategy.
  5. Select your new bid strategy.
  6. Click Save. Select a bidding option
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