Finding success with Smart Bidding

Pick the right bid strategy


Your account-wide goals should align with your business objectives. Each campaign should play a role in reaching that larger objective. Set an objective for each campaign (e.g. conversions). Different campaigns can have different objectives. For example, high visibility search terms could have an objective to reach a target impression share, while the objective of another campaign could be to optimize for conversions at a target CPA.

Choose a strategy that aligns with your main business goal

Use a different automated bidding methods to meet the different objectives of your campaigns.

Let's look at some of the automated bidding options available to you. Keep an eye out for the ones that could help you hit your goals. In general, there are four main types of goals, and each type of automation is intended to help you achieve one of those four.

Business Goal

Campaign Goal

Smart Bidding Method

Increase Profit Get as much conversion value as possible at a fixed budget or at a fixed cost per action Maximize conversion value, Target ROAS
Increase Sales or Leads Get as much conversion value as possible at a fixed budget or fixed return on ad spend Maximize conversion value, Target CPA
Increase Website Visitors Get as many clicks to your websites as possible with the given budget Maximize clicks
Increase or stabilize awareness Show at your desired location (e.g., top of page) and impression share in auctions Target impression share

Note

Enhanced CPC isn’t included here, but it can be used if you have specific reasons for setting manual bids and still want to take advantage of some degree of auction-time bidding. While it may not offer the full power of automated bidding like some other strategies, it can work with bids that you set yourself.

Conversions (Smart Bidding)

If you are tracking what happens following a click and you value all of those conversions equally, then this strategy is for you. Only include conversions you want Smart Bidding to optimize for in your “conversions” column. Other actions can still be tracked in the “all conversions” column.

If your goal is to maintain an average CPA across a campaign or portfolio of campaigns:

  • Use the Target CPA strategy. You set a target CPA for a campaign or group of campaigns. Some conversions in the group may cost more than the target, and some may cost less. This strategy will optimize for an average CPA equal to the target you set. Use this if you have a very specific CPA goal for certain campaigns.

If your goal is to drive as many conversions as possible within a set budget:

  • Use the Maximize conversions strategy. Maximize conversions automatically sets bids to help get the most conversions for your campaign while spending your budget.

Revenue (Smart Bidding)

If you’re tracking conversions following a click, you can also track the revenue or value associated with those conversions. This strategy will align your bids directly with the revenue that your clicks generate.

If your goal is to achieve a desired return across your entire portfolio:

  • Use the Target ROAS strategy. You set a target ROAS for a campaign or portfolio of campaigns. The algorithm will then adjust bids to try and maintain that ROAS. Some conversions may cost more than the target, and some may cost less. This strategy will optimize for an average ROAS equal to the target you set.

If your goal is to drive as much conversion value as possible within a set budget:

  • Use the Maximize conversion value strategy. Maximize conversion value automatically sets bids to help get the most conversion value for your Search campaigns while spending your budget.

Tip

Our advice for automated bidding for Shopping and Display campaigns is slightly different. Not all of these options are available.

Automate your bidding based on the most accurate conversion data available

Bids based on detailed conversion data will be better at helping you reach your business goal. Understand what system has your best source of truth and import that data into Google Ads to utilize auction-time bidding.

For Target CPA and Target ROAS bidding, further steps are needed to define your target. You need to understand what a conversion or sale is worth to you and set your Target CPA or Target ROAS accordingly.

Different campaigns using the same strategy can have different performance targets. If you don’t have profitability formulas available, try using your historical average CPA or ROAS.

Some campaigns may have different goals to capture various conversion actions. For example, you may have a budget to capture leads for one product, and a separate budget to drive purchases for another product.  

In this kind of situation, you should select conversion actions at the campaign level. Simply choose the corresponding conversion action(s) that align with what you’re trying to capture with that given campaign and budget. 

This feature should be used sparingly, and only when your campaigns are aiming to capture different conversion types. If possible, we recommend optimizing to the same conversion type(s) across your account when using Target CPA or Maximize conversions. Alternatively, if you have values setup for different conversion types across campaigns in your account, optimize to the same conversion type(s) across your account while using Maximize Conversion Value or Target ROAS.

Clicks

This is all about driving as many clicks as you can within a given budget.

  • Use Maximize Clicks if you have a set of keywords that you want to drive as many clicks for you as possible. It can be particularly effective with driving traffic to upper funnel or high visibility keywords.

Impression Share

This strategy is helpful when you want to ensure that your ad is visible at certain locations on the page (absolute top, top, anywhere on page) a given percentage of the time.

  • Use Target Impression Share if you want your bids to automatically optimize for the placement and impression share you want.

If visits to your physical locations are important to your business,  include store visits in your Smart Bidding strategy.

You can optimize for total sales whether they happen online or in-store by bidding for store visits together with online conversions. To use Smart Bidding for store visits, be sure to include them in your Conversions column. If you are using a value-based bid strategy like Target ROAS or Maximize conversion value, be sure to  set a value for store visits.

Keep in mind, changes to these conversion settings apply going forward.  When you first include store visits in 'Conversions', historical values in conversion columns will not reflect the current setting. 

If you’re using a target based bid strategy, update your targets immediately after including store visits to reflect your omnichannel goals. If you don’t have a set goal in mind, you can start with calculating CPA or ROAS targets based on your historical account data a from at least a 30-day period before the conversion delay. Use  the following formulas:

  • CPA target = cost / (all biddable conversions + store visits)
  • ROAS target = (conversion value of all biddable conversions + store visits * current conversion value per store visit) * 100 / cost

For ROAS targets in Smart Shopping campaigns, follow the advice above for ROAS targets unless:

  • You are not using the optional ROAS target: No action is required.
  • You are using the ROAS target only as a safety mechanism (your ROAS target is set higher than your achieved ROAS): Consider setting the new ROAS target also higher than the number recommended above.

Make sure to use data from at least a 30-day period before the conversion delay. For example, if your store visit conversion window and maximum online conversion delay is 30 days, set the historical period to be from 60 to 30 days ago.

Know when to use seasonality adjustments with Smart Bidding

Automated bidding does consider seasonality, but there are times when you may be able to provide additional information related to temporary conversion rate changes.

For example, if you’re running a sale or promotion, you might have an expectation for conversion rate increases that Smart Bidding wouldn’t capture immediately. This is when you should use seasonality adjustments.

Situation

Use seasonality adjustments?

You believe a major change in conversion rates will temporarily occur for 1-7 days for an unprecedented reason such as a promotion. 

Yes

You don’t expect conversion rates to change meaningfully, but instead expect your mix of users to change due to a seasonal period such as back- to- school time.

No, Smart Bidding will account for these changes

You expect the seasonal period to apply for more than 7 days. 

No, Smart Bidding will account for these changes

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