Google Ads 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, conversions or views, you can determine which strategy is best for you. In this article, we'll describe how to use your advertising goals to choose your bid strategy.
Before you begin
If you’re looking for instructions on how to change your bid strategy for an existing search campaign, read Change how you bid.
The ad auction: how Google decides which ads to show and their order
Consider your goals
Each bid strategy is suited for different kinds of campaigns and advertising goals. For the purposes of bidding, you'll want to consider five basic types of goals, along with your current campaign settings.
- 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. Smart Bidding lets you do that.
- If you want to generate traffic to your website, focusing on clicks could be ideal for you. Cost-per-click (CPC) bidding may be right for your campaign.
- If you want to increase brand awareness focusing on impressions may be your strategy. You can use cost-per-thousand viewable impressions (vCPM) bidding to put your message in front of customers.
- If you run video ads and want to increase views or interactions with your ads, you can use cost per view (CPV) or cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) bidding.
- If you run video ads and your goal is to increase product or brand consideration, you can use cost per view (CPV).
Focus on conversions with Smart Bidding
If you want to focus on conversions, consider using Smart Bidding to take much of the heavy lifting and guesswork out of setting bids. Smart Bidding is a set of automated bid strategies that uses Google AI to optimise for conversions or conversion value in each and every auction – a feature known as 'auction-time bidding'. It also factors in a wide range of auction-time signals such as device, location, time of day, language and operating system to capture the unique context of every search.
Below are the 5 Smart Bidding strategies that you can use.
- Target cost-per-action (CPA): If you want to optimise for conversions, you can use target CPA to help increase conversions while targeting a specific cost-per-action (CPA). Learn more about target CPA bidding
- Target return on ad spend (ROAS): If you want to optimise for conversion value, you can use target ROAS to help increase conversion value while targeting a specific return on ad spend (ROAS). Learn more about target ROAS bidding
- Maximise conversions: If you want to optimise for conversions but just want to spend your entire budget instead of targeting a specific CPA, you can use Maximise conversions. Learn more about Maximise conversions bidding
- Maximise conversion value: If you want to optimise for conversion value but just want to spend your entire budget instead of targeting a specific ROAS, you can use Maximise conversion value. Learn more about Maximise conversion value bidding
- Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC): If you want to automatically adjust your manual bids to try to maximise conversions, you can use ECPC. It’s an optional feature you can use with manual CPC bidding. Learn more about ECPC
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 to consider:
Maximise clicks: This is an automated bid strategy. It's the simplest way to bid for clicks. All you have to do is set an average daily budget and the Google Ads system automatically manages your bids to bring you the most clicks possible within your budget. Learn more about Maximise clicks bidding
- Manual CPC bidding: This lets 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. Learn more about manual CPC bidding
Maximise clicks could be a good option for you if the following describes your campaign:
- You have an advertising budget that you'd like to reach consistently.
- You don't want to spend time monitoring and updating individual CPC bids, and you're willing to let the Google Ads system update CPC bids automatically.
- You're mainly interested in increasing website traffic.
- You're new to Google Ads or don't know exactly how much to bid for particular keywords or placements.
Maximise Clicks isn't a good choice for you if your advertising goals include maintaining a specific Ad Rank or cost per conversion. It isn't possible to set individual CPC bids with Maximise clicks, but you can set a maximum CPC bid for your entire campaign.
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 emphasise most. Maximise clicks lets you decide the overall amount of your budget, then we'll find you the most customers based on that.
With manual CPC bidding, you can fine-tune your maximum CPC bids to help steer 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 steer 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, Maximise clicks 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, Maximise clicks is probably a better fit for you.
Although your website sells a wide range of art supplies, you're most interested in selling paintbrushes. With manual CPC bidding, even if your ad group has 15 keywords, you can choose to set a higher bid for only the keyword 'paintbrushes', which will apply whenever that keyword triggers your ad.
Focus on visibility
If you want to focus on visibility, you can try one of the following bid strategies to help maximise visibility:
- Target impression share automatically sets bids with the goal of showing your ad on the absolute top of the page, on the top of the page, or anywhere on the page of Google search results. Learn more about Target impression share
- CPM: With this bid strategy, you’ll pay based on the number of impressions (times your ads are shown) that you receive on YouTube or the Google Display Network.
- tCPM: A bidding strategy where you set an average for how much you’re willing to pay for every thousand impressions. It optimises bids to maximise your campaign’s unique reach. With tCPM, you can keep your campaign’s average CPM lower or equal to the target you set (although the cost of impressions may vary).
- vCPM: This is a manual bidding strategy that you can use if your ads are designed to increase awareness, but not necessarily generate clicks or traffic. It lets you set the highest amount that you want to pay for each 1,000 viewable ad impressions on the Google Display Network. Learn more about vCPM bidding
Here are some cases in which we'd recommend manual vCPM bidding:
- Your ads are designed to increase awareness, but not necessarily generate clicks or traffic.
- You prefer the traditional industry metrics of vCPM campaigns.
- You're targeting particular placements, not just keywords. (Combined with placement targeting, bidding for impressions can help ensure that 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 vCPM bidding probably isn't for you if the goal of your campaign is a direct response from customers, like buying a product or filling in a form.
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. Viewable CPM bidding can help you get it in front of as many eyes as possible.
Focus on views or interactions (for video ads only)
If you run video ads, you can use CPV bidding. With CPV bidding, you'll pay for video views and other video interactions, such as clicks on the calls-to-action (CTA) overlay, cards and companion banners. You just enter the highest price you want to pay for a view while setting up your TrueView video campaign. Learn more about CPV bidding