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Search Advertising exam study guide

Determine a bid strategy based on your goals

AdWords 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.

AdWords essential
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 four 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. AdWords 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 awarenessnot drive traffic to your sitefocusing on impressions may be your strategy. You can use cost per thousand viewable impressions (vCPM) bidding to put your message in front of customers. You can also use a Target Search Page Location or Target Outranking Share strategy to maximize visibility. 
  • If you run video ads and want to increase views or interactions with your ads, you can use cost-per-view (CPV) bidding. 

Focus on conversions with Smart Bidding

If you want to focus on conversions, consider using AdWords 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 machine learning to optimize 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 four Smart Bidding strategies you can use.
 

  • Target CPA (cost-per-acquisition): If you want to optimize for conversions, you can use Target CPA to help increase conversions while targeting a specific cost-per-acquisition (CPA). Learn more About Target CPA bidding.
  • Target ROAS (return-on-ad-spend): If you want to optimize 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.
  • Maximize Conversions: If you want to optimize for conversions, but just want to spend your entire budget instead of targeting a specific CPA, you can use Maximize Conversions. Learn more About Maximize Conversions bidding.
  • Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC): If you want to automatically adjust your manual bids to try to maximize 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:

  • Maximize Clicks: This is an automated bid strategy. It's the simplest way to bid for clicks. All you have to do is set a daily budget, and the AdWords system automatically manages your bids to bring you the most clicks possible within your budget. Learn more About Maximize 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.
More about Maximize Clicks

Maximize Clicks could be a good option for you if the following describes your campaign:

  • You have an advertising budget you'd like to reach consistently.
  • You don't want to spend time monitoring and updating individual cost-per-click (CPC) bids, and you're willing to let the AdWords system update CPC bids automatically.
  • You're mainly interested in increasing website traffic.
  • You're new to AdWords or don't know exactly how much to bid for particular keywords or placements.

Maximize Clicks isn't a good choice for you if your advertising goals include maintaining a specific ad position or cost per conversion. It isn't possible to set individual CPC bids with Maximize Clicks, but you can set a maximum CPC bid for your entire campaign.

Example

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 emphasize most. Maximize Clicks lets you decide the overall amount of your budget, then we'll find you the most customers based on that.

More about Manual CPC bidding

With Manual CPC bidding, you can fine-tune your maximum CPC bids to help control 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 control 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, Maximize 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, Maximize Clicks is probably a better fit for you.

Example

Although your website sells a wide range of art supplies, you're most interested in selling paint brushes. With Manual CPC bidding, even if your ad group has 15 keywords, you can choose to set a higher bid for only the keyword "paint brushes," which will apply whenever that keyword triggers your ad.

Focus on impressions 

If you want to focus on impressions, you can try one of the following bid strategies to help maximize visibility. 

  • Target Search Page Location: This is an automated bid strategy that automatically sets your bids to help increase the chances that your ads appear at the top of the page, or on the first page of search results. Learn more About Target Search Page Location bidding.
  • Target Outranking Share: This is an automated bid strategy that lets you choose a domain you want to outrank so that your ad is displayed above that domain’s ads, or shows when that domain’s ad does not. You can set how often you want to outrank that domain, and AdWords automatically sets your Search bids to help meet that target. Learn more About Target Outranking Share bidding.
  • Cost-per-thousand viewable impressions (vCPM): This is a manual bidding strategy 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 you want to pay for each 1,000 viewable ad impressions on the Google Display Network. 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 out a form. Learn more About vCPM bidding.
     
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 (cost-per-thousand viewable impressions) campaigns.
  • You're targeting particular placements, not just keywords. (Combined with placement targeting, bidding for impressions can help ensure 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 out a form.

Example

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 cost-per-view (CPV) bidding. With CPV bidding, you'll pay for video views and other video interactions, such as clicks on the calls-to-action overlay (CTAs), 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.
 

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