Smart Bidding is a subset of automated bid strategies that use machine learning to optimize for conversions or conversion value in each and every auction—a feature known as “auction-time bidding”. Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize conversions, Maximize conversion value, and Enhanced CPC (ECPC) are all Smart Bidding strategies.
This article explains what Smart Bidding is and how you can use it to save time and improve your return on investment.
Before you begin
If you’re new to automated bidding in Google Ads, read About automated bidding first.
To use Smart Bidding, you need to have conversion tracking enabled, unless you’re using ECPC with Display campaigns. Learn how to Set up conversion tracking
Why use Smart Bidding
With Smart Bidding, you get 4 key benefits that can help you save time and improve performance.
Advanced machine learning
In bidding, machine learning algorithms train on data at a vast scale to help you make more accurate predictions across your account about how different bid amounts might impact conversions or conversion value. These algorithms factor in a wider range of parameters that impact performance than a single person or team could compute.
Wide range of contextual signals
With auction-time bidding, you can factor in a wide range of signals into your bid optimizations. Signals are identifiable attributes about a person or their context at the time of a particular auction. This includes attributes like device and location, which are available as manual bid adjustments, plus additional signals and signal combinations exclusive to Smart Bidding. See a list of several of these important signals below.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids for Target CPA or Target ROAS strategies based on whether someone is on a mobile, desktop, or tablet device.
Example: For a car dealership, bids may be adjusted if a person is searching on a mobile device and therefore more likely to book an appointment at a nearby location.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on the specific location (down to the city) someone is located in, even if the advertiser’s implemented location targeting isn’t as specific.
Example: For a bank, even if the advertiser’s location targeting is set to New York state, bids may be adjusted if a person searches for “new checking account” from a city with higher branch penetration where they’re more likely to apply for an account.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on someone’s location intent in addition to their physical location.
Example: For a travel provider, bids may be adjusted if someone is actively researching a vacation destination you offer (e.g. “paris vacations august”), even if they’re not physically located near there.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on someone’s local time of day and day of week in their time zone.
Example: For a restaurant, bids may be adjusted if someone searches at 8 PM on a Thursday when people are more likely to make a reservation for the weekend, compared to 8 AM on a Monday.
Description: Google Ads can optimize Search and Display bids based on which remarketing list someone belongs to, and can also account for how recently a user was added to that list. Search also takes into account each list a user is on, for a given campaign or ad group.
Example: For an online clothing retailer, bids may be adjusted if a person has already browsed a product during a previous site visit, and whether they added it to a shopping cart last week, when they’re more likely to want to buy it soon, versus last month.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on which version of an ad will be shown, including whether it’s for a mobile app.
Example: For a telecom company, bids may be adjusted if the ad shown is the “Latest Deals” creative or the “Flexible Plans” creative, or if it points to the mobile site or app, based on which variation has a higher likelihood of converting. For Display campaigns, bids take into account which ad sizes and formats are more likely to convert.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on someone’s language preferences.
Example: For a Spanish language learning site, bids may be adjusted for the query, “learn a new language” if a person’s language preference is set to English instead of Spanish, where they’re less likely to purchase a new tutorial.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on the browser someone is using.
Example: For a health foods company, bids may be adjusted if a person searches from Chrome, which has resulted in a higher conversion likelihood for that business in the past, compared to other browsers.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on the operating system someone is using.
Example: For a gaming app developer, bids may be adjusted if a person searches for “puzzle game” on Google Play from an Android device that has been upgraded to the latest OS version, which is more likely to result in an app install, compared to an older OS version.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on the text of the query that triggered the ad, not just the matching keyword.
Example: For a shoe retailer, bids may be adjusted if a person’s search query is “leather boots” and they’re more likely to buy a new pair compared to a search for “boot repairs,” even if both queries broad match to the keyword “boots”.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on which search partner site the ad appears on.
Example: For a consumer packaged goods brand, bids may be adjusted if a query is coming from a more relevant search on an e-commerce site, which has a higher conversion likelihood, compared to a news site.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on which site placement the ad appears on.
Example: For a consumer packaged goods brand, bids may be adjusted if the ad appears on a popular, high-traffic site, which has a higher conversion likelihood.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on someone’s activity on your site, including number of pages viewed, value of products browsed, how far through the conversion process they progressed, and other sites previously visited.
Example: For a furniture brand, bids may be adjusted if a person has browsed several couches priced at a higher value compared to lamps that have a lower price point.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on similar attributes across products such as price, condition, brand, and product category.
Example: For a retailer selling outdoor gear, bids may be adjusted if you add a new tent to your product data that is similar to other tents that have a high conversion likelihood.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on the strength and quantity of an app’s reviews.
Example: For a fitness brand, bids may be adjusted if an app has many excellent reviews and is more likely to result in an install.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on how your product price compares to other advertisers who are participating in the same auctions that you are.
Example: For a cookware retailer, bids may be adjusted if you’re offering a strong deal on a knife set compared to other advertisers.
Description: Google Ads can optimize bids based on seasonal performance trends during different times of year.
Example: For an electronics retailer, bids may be adjusted if a person is searching for a new television during the holiday season, which typically sees a higher conversion likelihood.
Smart Bidding allows you to set performance targets and customize settings to your unique business goals:
- Optimize Search bids to your selected attribution model, including data-driven attribution.
- Set device-specific performance targets for mobile, desktop, and tablet with Target CPA bidding (coming soon).
Smart Bidding offers reporting tools that give you deeper insight into your bidding performance and help you quickly troubleshoot any issues. These include:
- Bid strategy reports that help you understand how your Smart Bidding strategies are performing.
Note: To locate your bid strategy report, go to find your bid strategy reports.
- Detailed bid strategy statuses that show you what’s going on under the hood of your bidding.
- Campaign drafts and experiments for Search and Display campaigns that make it easy to test how well Smart Bidding performs against your current bidding method.
- Simulators that forecast how your ads might have performed in terms of key metrics like cost, conversions, conversion value, impressions, and clicks if you had set different CPA, ROAS targets, or budgets.
- Alerts and notifications that flag issues with conversion tracking and provide clear steps for fixing them.
Who it’s for
Smart Bidding works successfully for businesses large and small. Smart bidding can optimize based on data from all of your campaigns, so even new campaigns without data of their own may see increased performance. To evaluate results accurately, we recommend measuring performance over longer time periods that have at least 30 conversions, such as a month or longer (50 conversions for Target ROAS). Relevant keywords can be added to low volume campaigns to expand targeting and increase conversions.
Advertisers that are using Smart Bidding must comply with applicable legal requirements and Google ads policies. For example, you are responsible for ensuring that your use of Smart Bidding complies with Google's personalized advertising policies. It's important that you familiarize yourself with the contextual signals that are used in Smart Bidding so that you can determine whether Smart Bidding is appropriate for your business.
Video ad conversion attribution for Smart Bidding
For video ads using Smart Bidding, Google Ads uses conversion data from your campaigns to predict how likely it is an engagement with your video ad will lead to a conversion.
Engagements for TrueView for action ads are defined as clicks on the ad or 10 seconds of viewing time. If both happen, only the click is counted. Viewing at least 10 seconds of a video ad counts as leading to a website conversion if the conversion happens within 3 days of the engagement. For users who click on your ad, conversions will still be attributed over your current conversion window.
Grow your Smart Bidding campaigns with broad match keywords
Broad match keywords pair particularly well with Smart Bidding strategies, including Maximize conversions, Maximize conversion value, Target CPA, and Target ROAS.
There is no need to segment by match type to boost optimization. The bidding system sets a bid for each individual auction of each query and bids up or down depending on how well the query is likely to perform. Applying broad match keywords will allow the algorithms to learn faster and find additional auctions that can help you reach your growth objectives. Learn more about broad match keywords