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PPC Automation Series: Part 1 – Bidding

14 Sep 2018
By Jamie
PPC automation - bidding

Levels of automation in paid search are rising fast, and we believe this is a change to be embraced. Automation – when done well – allows for more efficient management and optimisation of paid activity, ultimately freeing up time to focus on more strategic thought and action.

In this series, we’re going to look at how to use automation to manage your PPC activity, including:

  • Bidding
  • Ad writing & testing
  • Reporting & analysis

Sound good? Let’s begin then, starting with PPC Automatic Bidding.

Automated bidding frees-up time that was previously spent manually calculating ‘optimal’ bids on a daily, or twice daily basis. In reality, there is no precise way to manually calculate optimal bids, as an optimal bid varies from auction to auction. With manual bidding you’ll always be overbidding for some clicks, and underbidding for others. This is part of the reason why Google’s Smart Bidding has emerged over recent years. Let’s take a look at these Smart Bidding strategies.

What are automated PPC ‘Smart Bidding’ strategies?

Google’s Smart Bidding strategies look at billions of different data signals when setting bids during each and every auction. They’ll consider time of day, location, historical behaviour, browser, OS, likelihood of conversion – and many others – and then how these all combine together to produce an optimal bid during that moment. This should, in theory, ensure you always pay the right amount for that click.

Google Ads now has several automated bidding options available:

  • Target CPA – bids are set to achieve as many conversions as possible at the CPA target you set
  • Target ROAS – sets bids to achieve maximum conversion value based on the target ROAS set
  • Enhanced CPC – adjust bids in favour of auctions that are likely to lead to conversions
  • Maximise Conversions – bids an optimal CPC for every auction to try to drive as many conversions for your budget

It’s important to note, however, that Smart Bidding isn’t always right for everyone (we even wrote a blog post a while back asking…can you trust it?). There are a few things to keep in mind when considering it:

  • It needs historical data – bidding decisions are partly made on historical performance, so when starting with a new account it’s wise to use manual bidding for a while to gain a foundation of data. Without historical data, it’s hard for Smart Bidding to make accurate bid predictions, and likely won’t work as expected
  • It requires a certain level of conversions – a recommended 30 conversions over the last 30 days, but with 50 conversions preferred. For smaller businesses, or those with a low conversion volume, Smart Bidding won’t have enough data to use to set optimal bids, in which case manual bidding or use of scripts (more on this later) might be better
  • Your business goals might not match – if your business goals don’t match the setting of a target CPA or ROAS, or maximising conversions, you won’t be able to get an optimal output from Smart Bidding. e.g. if your business goal is chiefly brand awareness

If Smart Bidding isn’t a viable option for your account, that doesn’t mean you have to resort to manual bidding. There is plenty of automation that you can introduce to an account via the use of scripts…

How to make use of automated PPC bidding with scripts

Scripts are pieces of code which can automate many PPC processes. Whilst they may look complicated if you’re not a developer, the good news is that you don’t need any knowledge of coding to be able to use them effectively, and there is a huge resource of ready-made scripts available online that you can just copy and paste into your account.

Because there are so many out there, we’ve selected a few of our favourites to really up your automation game.

24 hour bidding – Google Ads only allows for 6 custom bid adjustments by time of day to be made – but what if you need to adjust your bids more frequently than this? This script allows you to change your bids up to 24 times a day based on whatever bid modifiers you choose. You can also split this out by day.

And  if you don’t know what bid modifiers you should be using?

Heatmap bid analysisThis script analyses your current data by hour and day and produces a visual heatmap of performance, complete with suggested bid modifiers, saving you a ton of time when combined with the 24 hour bidding script.

Weather based biddingIf your PPC performance is affected by the weather conditions, then this script could come in handy. It links to the OpenWeatherMap API which references the current weather conditions in the locations you’ve specified. You can then set the bid modifier you want to make depending on the weather conditions.

So now it’s over to you to start using these strategies to improve PPC performance and free up your time to focus on developing strategy, innovation, and your own personal growth. In our next post, we’ll be looking at how you can use automation for ad writing & testing. To keep up-to-date with this series, and our other posts, make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter.

If this article has inspired you to improve your PPC performance, get in touch to find out how we can help!

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