Finding success with Smart Bidding

Official guide to automating and optimizing your bids.


Automating your bids with Google Ads can deliver better, more informed bids while saving you time. In this guide, we’ll talk about why you should use a Smart Bidding strategy and how to drive better results in Search campaigns.


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1. Deliver better performance using auction-time bidding with Google Ads

  • Bid to the user’s auction-time context via Smart Bidding.

Why: Dynamic bids tailored to each individual auction can lead to better results. 

Why: Google Ads bidding algorithms evaluate billions of combinations of relevant contextual signals present at auction-time to set bids. More than 80% of Google advertisers are using automated bidding.1

  • Save time by automating your bids.

Why: Automated bidding dramatically reduces the time you spend on bidding, allowing you to reallocate time to optimizing other areas of your account such as measurement and creative.

Case Study

After making the switch to Target ROAS, saw a 30% increase in gross profits at their target ROAS while saving time for its campaign managers by reducing their need to monitor multiple Google Ads bid adjustments.

Read more about taking advantage of auction-time bidding.


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2. Set up your account structure, settings, and measurement practices for success

  • Base your campaigns on objectives.

Why: Automated bidding is objective-based bidding, which means a single campaign should generally have the same type of objective.

  • Simplify your account structure.

Why: Granular campaign structures aren’t necessary as automated bidding will work across all account structures.

  • Automate your bidding based on accurate conversion and conversion value data.

Why: Measuring conversions and having better conversion and conversion value data means more informed automated bids.

  • Pair Smart Bidding with broad match keywords and responsive search ads.

Why: Show the right message to as many relevant people as possible while setting the right bid for each query. Advertisers that adopt responsive search ads in campaigns that also use broad match and Smart Bidding see an average of 20% more conversions at a similar cost per action.2

Case Study logo

Using the combination of broad match, Smart Bidding, and responsive search ads, UK-based increased sign-ups in Germany from its generic Search campaigns by 182%, while increasing clicks by 258%.

Watch their story:

Read more about setting up your account for success.


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3.  Pick the right bid strategy

  • Choose a strategy that aligns with your main business goal.

Why: Automation will manage your account to focus on that goal above all else.

Business Goal

Bidding Method

Increase sales, profit, or qualified leads

Maximize conversion value with optional target ROAS

Increase transactions or leads

Maximize conversions with optional target CPA

Increase website visitors Maximize clicks
Increase or stabilize awareness Target impression share


  • Optimize your ROI with Maximize conversion value or by setting a target ROAS (return on ad spend).

Why: Not all conversions are equal–some are worth more than others. Measuring conversion values and then bidding towards them helps you find more valuable customers. On average, advertisers that switch their bid strategy from having a target CPA to a target ROAS can see 14% more conversion value at a similar return on ad spend.3

Case Study

1StopLighting logo

1STOPlighting transitioned all of their shopping campaigns to bid towards a target ROAS and were able to increase profit by 214%.

  • Know when to use seasonality adjustments with Smart Bidding.

Why: Seasonality adjustments should be used for specific situations when you can predict conversion rates will temporarily change for a short period of time.

Read more about picking the right bid strategy.


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4. Test your bid strategies

  • Keep each bidding test simple and only change one variable at a time. 

Why: Adding other new elements as you test Smart Bidding can muddy your test results.

Get started: Use Google Ads experiments to test the performance of automated bidding.

  • Choose the largest campaign that you’re comfortable experimenting with.

Why: In testing, more data means more confidence and faster results.

  • Start with targets that align with your historical CPA or ROAS. 

Why: Overly-aggressive targets can affect your volume and cloud the comparison with your historical averages.

Read more about testing automated bid strategies.


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5. Evaluate your automated bid strategy performance

Why: You can view how your goal metrics have performed over time while on Smart Bidding. And see how well you hit your goal on average. 

  • Understand top signals being used by Smart Bidding.

Why: Use top signals to understand which signals are the most impactful in your Smart Bidding performance. These insights can help inform your broader marketing efforts.

  • Optimize your targets.

Why: Adjusting your targets help you meet your changing performance goals, and frequent or large target changes won’t negatively impact performance of your bid strategy.

  • Understand conversion delays, which can be found in the bid strategy report.

Why: Customers may take time to convert after clicking on your ads, which we refer to as conversion delay. You need to know what your typical delays look like to properly assess performance. Your performance may appear less efficient than it is if you do not wait until all conversions have been reported before assessing performance. 

Example bid strategy report

Read more about evaluating automated bid strategies.



1. Google Internal Data, Global, 2021-03-16 to 2021-04-12
2. Google Internal Data, 2021-04-01 to 2021-04-07
3. Google Internal Data, Global, Feb 2023

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