Create a bid strategy

A bid strategy automatically manages bidding to achieve goals you specify.

For example, if you want to achieve a 6% effective revenue share (ERS) for a specific conversion on your site, you can create an ERS bid strategy, specify the conversion, and specify the campaigns, ad groups, and biddable items that drive traffic to the conversion. The DoubleClick Search (DS) Performance Bidding Suite will then automatically adjust bids to achieve your 6% ERS goal.

If you have other types of advertising objectives, instead of specifying conversions and revenue goals, you can create bid strategies that optimize spend for maximizing visits to your site or for displaying your ads in a range of positions. You can even create bid strategies that optimize for custom KPIs that you define in a formula column.

Bid strategy goals

Here's the list of goals that are available for bid strategies (each bid strategy you create can specify only one of the goals listed below).

Conversions goal: Get the most conversions while meeting a target CPA or monthly spend.

To maximize the number of conversions, select the conversions goal, specify a target CPA (cost per action) or a monthly spend, and specify the conversions you want to optimize.

CPA (Cost Per Action)

CPA is calculated as follows:

  • CPA = spend ÷ (number of actions)

You can specify a target CPA and DS will raise or lower bids to maximize conversions on the items in your portfolio while achieving a CPA that’s as close as possible to the target CPA. That is, over a time period, DS will strive to achieve an average cost per action that meets the target CPA while keeping the portfolio, as a whole, profitable. In some cases, this can result in a CPA for an individual keyword that is more than the target CPA, making that keyword unprofitable.

To instruct DS to try to keep the CPA for an individual keyword in the profitable range, you can set a max CPA constraint for the bid strategy.

Set max CPA constraint

We suggest that the value of the max CPA constraint is set to at least 1.5 times the target CPA to allow the bid strategy some room to continue to optimize bids for the portfolio. However, this is not a requirement because you may also be able to improve profitability with a lower max CPA.

  • max CPA ≥ (1.5 * target CPA)

For example, you sell light fixtures for $40 each. You set your target CPA at $30 because you want to make a $10 profit per fixture after advertising costs.

Your campaign portfolio contains the keywords brand name, lighting fixtures, hanging lights, and bulbs.

To achieve the target CPA of approximately $30 (actual CPA is $31.25), without a max CPA constraint, the bid strategy adjusts bids on the specific keywords as follows:

  • $5 for the brand name keyword because it’s at position one. You're probably the only one bidding on your brand name and because it’s at position one, the bids cannot be any higher.
  • $60 for lighting fixtures because the lighting fixtures keyword is popular
  • $30 for hanging lights
  • $30 for bulbs

While the overall bid strategy is profitable, the $60 bid for lighting fixtures is well beyond the $30 target CPA and is unprofitable. To reduce overspending on keywords, you might set the max CPA to $35.

Note: Even though you set a max CPA that allows more room for optimization, it still limits the optimization performance of the bid strategy and may cause DS to bid more on lower performing keywords.

Monthly Spend

If you're not sure what to set as the CPA and you have a fixed monthly budget or some money left over from a quarterly budget, set monthly spend as the target.

For a Conversions goal based on monthly spend, you just need to enter your budget for the month, set default min and max bids, and apply the bid strategy to some campaigns, ad groups, or specific biddable items, and DS will use your money to get the most possible conversions in return.

Available conversions

You can select from the following types of conversions for a conversions bid strategy to maximize:

  • DoubleClick Floodlight:
    • All actions: Maximizes the number of non-revenue conversions that are tracked by all action Floodlight activities on your site, such as signing up for a newsletter or requesting a catalog.
    • All transactions: Maximizes the number of sales transactions that are tracked by all transaction Floodlight activities on your site. Note that a conversions bid strategy maximizes the number of transactions, not the amount of revenue or the quantity of items sold. If you want to maximize the amount of revenue, create a bid strategy with a revenue goal.
    • Selected conversions. Maximizes the number of specific activities that you select. For example, you can select a single transaction activity, a single action (non-revenue) activity, or any number and combination of activities.
  • Google Analytics:
    • All goals: Maximizes the number of all goal completions on your site.
    • All transactions: Maximizes the number of all ecommerce transactions on your site. Note that a conversions bid strategy maximizes the number of transactions, not the amount of revenue or the quantity of items sold. If you want to maximize the amount of revenue, create a bid strategy with a revenue goal.
    • Selected conversions. Maximizes the number of specific goals that you select.
  • DS formula columns: Maximizes the number of conversions as defined by a formula column. For example, you can use a formula column that sums the number of all Floodlight and Google Analytics conversions. A bid strategy with a conversions goal can't maximize a formula column that calculates revenue or number of clicks.
Revenue goal: Get the highest revenue while meeting a target ERS, ROAS, or monthly spend.

To optimize revenue conversions, such as purchases on the advertiser's site, specify a target ERS, ROAS, or monthly spend, then specify the conversions you want to optimize.

ERS (Effective Revenue Share)

A Revenue goal based on effective revenue share (ERS) allows you to set a target percentage. You're instructing DS to manage your portfolio so the target ERS is reached. To reach the ERS target percentage, DS raises or the lowers bids on keywords to maximize conversions while achieving the target ERS.

ERS is a percentage based on the following calculation:

  • ERS = (spend ÷ revenue) × 100

ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend)

Similar to the ERS option, a Revenue goal based on return on advertising spend (ROAS) allows you to set a target percentage You're instructing DS to manage your keywords so the target is reached. To reach the ROAS target percentage, DS raises or lowers the bid to maximize conversions while achieving the target ROAS. The higher the ROAS, the larger your return on your advertising dollars.

ROAS is a percentage based on the following calculation:

  • ROAS = (revenue ÷ spend) × 100

In some cases, when DS places a higher bid (which translates to a lower ROAS) on an individual keyword, the bid is out of the range of the target ROAS and is unprofitable even though the overall bid strategy is profitable. To instruct DS to try keep most bids in the profitable range, you can set a min ROAS constraint.

Set min ROAS constraint

We suggest that the value of the min ROAS constraint is less than 66.7% of the target ROAS to allow the bid strategy some room to continue to optimize bids for the portfolio. However, this is not a requirement because you may also be able to improve profitability with a higher min ROAS.

  • Recommendation: min ROAS ≤ (.667 * target ROAS)

 

Note: Even though you set a min ROAS that allows more room for optimization, it still limits the optimization performance of the bid strategy and may cause DS to bid more on lower performing keywords.

Monthly Spend

If you're not sure what to set as the ERS or ROAS target and you have a fixed monthly budget or some money left over from a quarterly budget, set monthly spend as the target.

For a Revenue goal based on monthly spend, you just need to enter your budget for the month, set default min and max bids, and apply the bid strategy to some campaigns, ad groups, or specific biddable items, and DS will use your money to get the most revenue possible in return.

Available conversions

A revenue bid strategy can maximize revenue that's recorded by the following types of conversions:

  • DoubleClick Floodlight:
    • All transactions: Maximizes the revenue from sales that are tracked by all Floodlight transaction activities on your site.
    • Selected conversions. Maximizes revenue from specific Floodlight activities that you select (either transaction activities or action activities that report revenue values).
  • Google Analytics:
    • Revenue from all transactions: Maximizes revenue from all ecommerce transactions on your site.
    • Money from all goals: Maximizes revenue from all goals that define a monetary value. 
    • Money from selected goals: Maximizes revenue from specific goals that define a monetary value.
  • DS formula columns: Maximizes the revenue calculated by a formula column. For example, you can use a formula column that assigns a monetary value to a Floodlight activity tracking newsletter signups. 
Advanced targeting goal: Create a custom strategy with multiple ERS, ROAS, and CPA targets

Advanced targeting goals address the needs of companies that offer a complex mix of products with varying profit margins. In particular, this technology was designed with retail, travel, and financial services in mind. However, the functionality is fully flexible and can be used in any industry.

Advanced targeting goals optimize bidding based on the type of conversion. These goals allow you to set a Cost per action (CPA), Effective revenue share (ERS), or Return on Advertiser spend (ROAS) goal for a customized group of conversions. For example, you can assign aggressive goals to higher margin conversion types, and assign conservative goals to lower margin conversion types.

Advanced targeting goals solve unintended conversions: With Advanced targeting, DS accounts for the various profit margins of the different types of conversions that a set of biddable items produces. When you set an Advanced targeting goal, you're instructing DS to manage bidding so the target is reached. To reach the CPA, ERS, or ROAS target, DS raises or lowers the bid based on how the actual CPA/ERS/ROAS compares to the target CPA/ERS/ROAS.

Available conversions

For each target in an advanced targeting bid strategy, you can select conversions tracked by Floodlight activities or Google Analytics goals.

DS weights the the selected conversions according to their CPA/ERS/ROAS values to determine the true CPA/ERS/ROAS of the keyword. This allows the biddable item to be evaluated properly on performance. Is it performing accurately against the CPA/ERS/ROAS goal, is it overperforming, or is it underperforming? Once this has been determined, the DS properly adjusts bidding to achieve its overall goal.

Clicks goal: Get the most clicks while meeting a target monthly spend.

You have a fixed monthly budget, or some money left over from a quarterly budget, and you want to make sure you spend that exact amount on a group of biddable items. In addition, you want to get the most clicks possible in return from your money. With the Clicks goal, you can let DS do all the thinking for you.

You just need to enter your budget for the month, set default min and max bids, and apply the bid strategy to some campaigns, ad groups, or specific biddable items, and DS will use your money to get the most number of clicks possible.

Keyword position goal: Keep keywords at a position or within a position range.

A bid strategy with a Position goal allows you to keep a set of keywords in a particular position, or range of positions, while staying within the keywords' minimum and maximum bids. You can enter positions to one digit after the decimal point (e.g., a range of 1.7 to 3.5).

A keyword's bid is only one of the factors that determine a keyword's position. Although each search engine has its own ranking algorithm, the relevancy of your ad copy and landing page is a key factor in determining position on all of the major search engines.

We strongly recommend that you pay close attention to the ad or keyword quality scores that the search engines provide. DoubleClick does not guarantee that you will be able to achieve any particular position using bid strategies.

Select the position range:

In the Target section, you can target either a single position or a range. To target a single position, enter the same value in the Top position and Bottom position fields.

If average position cannot be reached:

In the Constraints section, DS will take the action you choose if the keywords can't maintain a position within the desired range:

  • Use maximum strategy bid: Keep the keywords at the highest position possible using the maximum bid.

  • Use minimum strategy bid: Leave the keywords on the search engine, but use the minimum bid.

Adjust bids on mobile devices

Bid strategies that target conversions or revenue can automatically apply mobile bid adjustments (increase or decrease bids for searches from a mobile device) based on the bid strategy’s goal. As with all mobile bid adjustments, the bid strategy first determines the default bid (the amount to bid for searches on a non-mobile device) and then determines an appropriate increase or decrease for searches on mobile devices.

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, your bid strategy can simply recommend mobile bid adjustments. You can periodically view the recommendation and apply the adjustment when it suits your needs.

Learn more about bid strategies that can adjust mobile bids.

Max CPC, minimum bid, and maximum bid constraints

When you apply a bid strategy to a biddable item, the bid strategy starts to monitor and potentially change each biddable item's Max CPC setting, which is the highest amount that you are willing to pay per click. Note that often you'll pay less than the max CPC because in each auction, the most you'll pay is what's needed to rank higher than the advertiser immediately below you.

Minimum bid and maximum bid determine the lowest and highest amounts that a bid strategy will set for max CPC. You specify a minimum and a maximum bid when you create a bid strategy. (You can override these limits for specific keywords or product targets by setting different minimum and maximum bid limits.) The bid strategy will never set bids that are outside of the constraints you specify.

Additional constraints

Depending on the goal you select for a bid strategy, you might be able to specify other constraints, such as the range of positions you want your ads to display in or a max CPA or min ROAS.

We recommend that you set these constraints as wide as possible to give bidding algorithms the most flexibility to optimize towards your goal.

How to create a bid strategy

If you want to optimize to a custom KPI that you define in a formula column, create a formula column that can be used in a bid strategy first. Then create the bid strategy.
  1. Navigate to an advertiser.

    Steps for navigating to an advertiser
    1. Click the navigation bar to display navigation options.

    2. In the Agency list, click on the agency that contains the advertiser. You can search for an agency by name or scroll through the list.

    3. In the Advertiser list, click on the advertiser.

    4. Click Apply or press the Enter key.

    DoubleClick Search displays the advertiser page, which contains data for all of the advertiser’s engine accounts.

  2. In the left nav, click Bid strategies.

  3. Click + New bid strategy, which appears above the reporting table.

  4. In the Goal section:

    1. Name the bid strategy.
    2. Select the engine account that contains the campaigns, ad groups, or biddable items you want to optimize.
    3. Select a bid strategy goal.
    4. If you selected Conversions, Revenue, or Advanced targeting, the bid strategy can be used to optimize the default bid for biddable items, adjust the bids on mobile devices, or both. Select one of the following from the Keyword bid optimization list:
      • Automatically change bids: The bid strategy will optimize the default bid.
      • Manually change bids: The bid strategy will not optimize the default bid.

      From the Mobile bid adjustment % optimization list, select one of the following:

      • Automatically change mobile bid adjustment %: Select this option if you want the bid strategy to automatically adjust mobile bids
      • Recommend mobile bid adjustment %: Select this option if you only want to see recommendations for adjusting mobile bids. You can apply the suggestion or ignore it.
    5. Click Next.
  5. In the Target section:

    • For advanced targeting goals:

      1. Click + Add another target.
      2. Select CPA, ERS, or ROAS from the Target #1 dropdown and enter the target value.
      3. Select a conversion for the target.
      4. To add additional targets, click + Add another target.
    • For keyword position goals: You can target either a single position or a range. To target a single position, enter the same value in the Top position and Bottom position fields.

    • For all other goals: Targeting options depend on the bid strategy goal you selected.

  6. In the Constraints section:

  7. Optional. You can save the bid strategy without setting the following constraints. Also, if you don’t set these properties, DS will have more freedom to optimize against the primary settings.

    Click More constraints. In the remainder of the Constraints section:

    • For position goals: DS will take the action you choose if the keywords can't maintain a position within the desired range. 
    • For all other goals: You can select a position constraint. This allows you to combine a Position goal with the primary goal to help your program meet multiple objectives. DS will first ensure that the bid is within the min/max bid range, then bid to stay within the position range, and finally bid toward the primary target. For example, for a Revenue goal, use the optional Position goal if you’re trying to meet a Revenue objective, but you also want to ensure that the keyword never drops below a particular position.
    • For conversion or revenue goals: Rather than setting a position constraint, you can set a max CPA or min ROAS constraint. Or you can choose not to apply additional constraints beyond the default minimum and maximum bids.
    Note: To enable the bid strategy to optimize bids, we suggest that the value of the max CPA be at least 1.5 times the target CPA. The min ROAS should be less than .667 times the target ROAS.
  8. In the Advanced Configuration section:

    • Conversions, Revenue, and Advanced targeting bid strategies apply a startup learning behavior to brand new keywords without performance history. If needed, you can adjust the startup learning behavior by changing the temporary position constraint.
    • For bid strategies that maximize revenue or conversions, the option to Ensure keywords with low conversion ratios will get some traffic appears and is selected by default. This setting controls how DS deals with low-performing keywords. Learn more.
      Please note that, if you select a position constraint under Constraints, this option will no longer apply. DS will keep all keywords within the specified position range.
  9. Click Save Bid Strategy.

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