8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (2023)

by Ana Gotter January 30, 2019

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (1)

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (2)

Automation is kind of the dream, right? It’s why services like Amazon’s subscription option are so popular, and why there are so many solutions rolling out daily to help us streamline everything from our meal planning to bill paying. We all have too many tasks and not enough hours in the day, after all, and perhaps no one knows this more than business owners and marketers.

Marketers and advertisers are all about efficiency, and the opportunity to streamline a campaign through automation sounds pretty appealing…especially if it has benefits like supposed automatic optimization or you’re managing an endless number of campaigns as is.

There are actually 8 different types of automated bidding strategies that you can choose from when it comes to Google Ads and each one prioritizes different results and actions. Some of these strategies can be great options for certain businesses or advertisers, but sometimes the automated campaigns come with big drawbacks.

In this post, we’re going to discuss each of the automated bidding strategies available in Google Ads and how to choose the strategy that’s right for each individual campaign you create.

What are Automated Bidding Strategies?

Automated bidding strategies allow you to hand the wheel over to Google, at least when it comes to what you’re bidding and what you’re bidding on. Instead of a manual bid, where you can set a specific limit for how much you’re willing to pay per click for any given click from a user who sees your ad, the automated strategies are going to be set by Google.

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (3)

(Video) How to Leverage Google Ads’ Automated Bidding Strategies to Prioritize Specific Conversions

Their algorithms will automatically set bids based on the likelihood that your ad will get the click or conversion and they’ll calculate this information based largely on what they know about the specific user, including:

  • The device they’re using
  • Their demographics
  • Location
  • Time of day the search is made
  • Their operating system

Automated bid strategies are goal-driven, meaning that they’re optimizing for a specific action, like clicks over conversions or vice versa. They’re designed to help advertisers who are worried about not bidding high enough, but by focusing in on likelihood of action, they also reduce the chance of spending too much on users who have absolutely zero intention of purchasing from you.

Automated bids are unique for each auction. They’re also updated as Google’s algorithm learns more over time based on user actions. That being said, they track changes over time, not immediately, so if there are any drastic changes in the marketplace, you’ll have to take over.

Some marketers prefer manual bidding because it gives them more control. They might know that they don’t want to spend more than $2.24 on a single click, ever. If this sounds like you, manual bidding is a good option. If not, though, keep reading to look at the different types of automated bidding strategies and see if they’re right for you.

Target CPA

The Target CPA bidding strategy focuses on driving as many conversions as possible at your target cost-per-acquisition (CPA). Though some bids will cost more or less than your target cost, they’ll average out to ensure that you’re staying where you need to overall.

This is one strategy that gives you some good control over your bidding, allowing you to set a specific target CPA.

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (4)

This bidding strategy can work well when you have an average CPA you want to stay near (but not necessarily under for every click you get). Before choosing this, have a good idea of what you can spend in order to maintain profitability when getting a sale, factoring in everything that can lead to a rise in costs or loss of ROI.

Some things to consider for this one:

  • It requires conversion tracking to be enabled on your account. Check out how to install the pixel here.
  • In order to get good results, it’s important to have some history of conversion data from Google Ads first, or this bidding strategy may not do you a ton of favors at first because it hasn’t “learned” yet. If you can, have at least 2o conversions within the past 30 days before using this strategy or know that the first two weeks could be a “learning” period.

Target ROAS

When using the Target ROAS strategy, you’re having Google set bids to maximize the conversion value as much as possible, maximizing your potential return on ad spend (ROAS). This bidding strategy can only be applied to a single campaign instead of multiple campaigns (which are also known as “portfolio” bidding strategies). This strategy is similar to target CPA, but the above allows you to use it as a portfolio bidding strategy and this focuses exclusively on ROAS while the other looks at the acquisition value outright.

(Video) 🎯 Guide to Google Ads Bidding Strategies Part 1 | Maximize Clicks

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (5)

Your ROAS is the conversion value you’d like to get out of every dollar of ad spend you invest, telling you the return on ad spend you’re getting. If you want to make $4 in sales for every dollar spent on your ads, the ROAS would be 400%.

Here’s the catch, though. The conversion tracking concerns that apply to the Target CPA strategy apply here as well. There will be a learning curve, which can be expensive and frustrating to watch for a week or so.

Maximize Clicks

This bidding strategy is self-explanatory: it will work to get as many clicks on your ad as possible, going through your daily budget to make this happen. Youcan set a bid limit, which is nice as it ensures that you won’t end up blowing your budget on a few clicks, and this strategy can be used as a portfolio strategy.

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (6)

Here’s what you need to keep in mind with this conversion type:

  • It’s almost always a good choice to set that bid limit so that Google doesn’t go through your budget in a way you won’t be happy with. Clicks are good, but not if they cost too much.
  • This can be a good bidding option if you want to drive traffic to your site or a specific landing page.
  • We recommend this most for audiences who currently have a strong conversion history on your campaigns and you want to step traffic up further.
  • Google Ads will sometimes aggressively spend here to chew up your budget. They want to get you those clicks, but again, this can come at a cost, so keep the bid limits reasonable.

Maximize Conversions

Maximize conversions is going to be similar to the above bidding strategy, but the focus here will be entirely on gettingconversions instead of justclicks.Google will go through your budget quickly to get you those conversions whenever possible.

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (7)

You’ll notice, however, that unlike the above bidding strategy, this one doesn’t let you set a bid cap. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The inability to set a bid cap is a hard hit for advertisers. There’s a huge risk that Google can burn through your ad spend with too-high CPCs that get you some results, but not at a price that’s profitable.
  • Conversion tracking must be enabled for the algorithm to be able to correctly optimize for conversions.

This bidding strategy is typically not one I’d recommend, because while it can yield a lot of actions, it does so at the discretion of a huge financial risk.

(Video) Google Ads Course | Manual Vs Automated Bidding Strategies | Part#16 | UmarTazkeer

Target Search Page Location

This bidding strategy prioritizes ad placement, letting advertisers bid on either the top of the search page or on the first page of results. You get to pick which location you want to prioritize. This is a portfolio-only bidding strategy, which means it can be applied to multiple campaigns.

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (8)

Here’s what you should keep in mind when choosing this bidding strategy:

  • The ability to have your ad show up in the right place is an advantage, especially in searches for high-value but very competitive keywords where ad rank can be crucial.
  • The idea behind this bidding strategy is that Google will automatically up your bid when necessary to get those high-visibility results. Make sure that this is worth it before you choose it, and if so, keep a close eye on those CPCs.
  • Remember that the higher your ad location and ad rank, the higher your CPC or CPA may become. Again, watch your CPCs because high ad placements are no longer worth it if you literally can’t afford them.

Target Outranking Share

Keeping up with the pattern we already have going, this bidding strategy is similar to the one directly above it because it focuses on the placement of the ad instead of the value or cost of a certain action. This strategy, however, prioritizes not just good placements but actually outranking very specific competitors.

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (9)

Let’s say you are a small shoe company and you’re sick of Nike dominating the traffic. You can enter in their domain name as the one you want to outrank, and hopefully take control of that first-place ad result for “running shoes” and “cross trainers.”

These are the highlights for this campaign:

  • There’s the option to set a bid limit. Do this. Big names have big budgets, and you don’t want to go broke trying to keep up.
  • You can try to outrank specific competitors who are continually stealing some of those high-value keywords. If you can afford to watch your CPCs increase so that you can snag some of those sales, full steam ahead.

Enhanced CPC

Enhanced CPC can be applied on its own, but it can also be applied to other bidding strategies, too. It stands for “enhanced cost-per-click,” and while it’s similar to manual bidding, it allows Google to adjust your bid—even if you’ve set it manually. Google will adjust the bid depending on the likelihood for a sale, increasing it if the likelihood is higher and decreasing it if lower.

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (10)

Here’s the information you need about the strategy:

(Video) 🎯 Maximize Conversions | Bidding Strategies Guide Part 2

  • It does have a history of helping to boost click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates, but it often comes at the cost of a higher CPC.
  • This limits the ability to set proper bid caps, allowing Google to make the final decision. This can result in major loss in profitability, which isn’t a risk most businesses want to take.

Target Impression Share

This is a relatively new bidding strategy that prioritizes bidding to reach a target percentage of the impression share.

Impression share tells you what percentage of searches you’re appearing in that you werecapable of showing up in based on targeting and keywords. Sometimes a low impression share is at least partially the result of low bids and this strategy can help you combat that. The higher the impression share, the more people are seeing your ad and the more chances you have at a click or conversion.

8 Google Ads Automated Bidding Strategies and How to Use Them (11)

Here’s what you need to know about this bidding strategy:

  • The ability to set a maximum CPC is, once again, valuable. Use it, because you don’t need to chew up your entire budget to simply get more impressions that may not even convert.
  • You can prioritize for different page locations, including Top of the Page and Anywhere on the Page, allowing you to decide if youonly want to bid on impressions at the very top of visibility.
  • Impression share simply means having your ad show up more often. That’s all it’s optimizing for, not specific actions.

Should I Use Automated Bidding Strategies?

The idea of automation is alluring for sure, but most advertisers are still preferring to opt for manual bidding instead. There are a few reasons for this, including:

  • It lets them increase bids on specific terms or ad groups that are particularly high value, and thus increasing the likelihood of improving ad rank (and results) for those ads.
  • It prevents their CPC from running away from them and squashing their chance at profitability. Who cares if you’re getting conversions, after all, if your’e doing it at $15 a click and you can only afford to spend $10?

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Automated bidding strategies can be useful in some circumstances, but in many cases you’ll benefit most from sticking with manual bidding and making sure that your campaigns are optimized in other ways and with strong, high-value and high-intent keywords.


While many advertising agencies prefer to be as in-control of the bids as possible (and thus typically opt for manual bidding on the majority of the campaigns they run), there is a time and place for certain automated bidding strategies. They can save you time and help you optimize your campaigns for certain results, which is a good thing at face value.

Just make sure that the time saved is worth whatever sacrifice you could be making when you give up control in the form of a manual bid, and to keep a particularly close eye on those campaigns.

Struggling to choose the bidding strategy that’s right for you? We can help you manage all aspects of your PPC campaigns, all the way down to the bidding strategies (automated or not). Get in touch to see how we can help.

(Video) 6 - Google Ads Course 2021 [Complete Tutorial for Beginners] - Bidding Strategies

What do you think? How do you feel about automated bidding strategies? Do you prefer automation overmanual bidding? Why or why not? Share your thoughts, knowledge, and questions inthe comments section below!


How automated bidding strategies in Google Ads work? ›

Smart bidding strategies are conversion-based or value-based automated bid strategies that set unique bids for each auction, based on information available at the time of the auction. This information includes the time of day, the specific ad being shown, or the user's device, location, browser, and operating system.

What is the best bid strategy on Google? ›

12 Google Ads bidding strategy options: Everything you need to know
  • Maximize conversion value.
  • Target impression share.
  • Manual cost-per-click (CPC)
  • Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC)
  • Viewable CRM (cost per 1,000 impressions)
  • Maximum CPM (cost-per-view)
  • Target CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions)
  • Portfolio bid strategies.

How do I bid effectively on Google Ads? ›

Focus on impressions

If your campaign is targeting just the Search Network and your main goal is to increase your brand visibility, consider using Target Impression Share. With this bidding strategy, Google Ads will automatically set your bids to help achieve your Impression Share goal.

What are the benefits of Google automated bidding? ›

This feature allows you to automatically adjust your bids based on your goals. Thus, you will be saving a lot of time and effort that can be saved for other tasks.

What is automatic bidding and how does it work? ›

Automatic bidding is the easiest way to bid on an eBay auction. Simply enter the highest price you're willing to pay for an item, and we'll do the rest. Once you set up automatic bidding, you can stay ahead of the competition for an item without needing to be on the eBay site.

How do automatic bids contribute to the success of a Google Ads campaign? ›

Real-time adjustments: Automated bidding allows advertisers to adapt to changes in the auction landscape instantly. By monitoring performance metrics and analyzing user behavior, the bidding algorithms can swiftly adjust bids, ensuring that your ads are displayed to the most relevant audiences at the right time.

What are two benefits of automated bidding? ›

Time saving and Cross analysis are the two benefits of automated bidding. Safe, Secure, and Reliable Service.

What is the most common bidding strategy? ›

The most common smart bidding strategies are target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize conversions, and Maximize conversion value.

Which bidding strategy works to hit? ›

Target-cost-per-acquisition (tCPA) bidding strategy works to hit your desired CPA and allows you to achieve more conversions at a stronger ROI without manual optimization.

What is the highest value bid strategy? ›

Highest value is one of Meta's bid strategy options, meaning it tells us how to bid in the ad auction. When you use highest value, we aim to spend your budget and bid for the highest possible purchase values. To use this bid strategy, you'll need to optimize your ad set for conversion value.

What is an example of bidding? ›

For example, if the ask price of a good is forty dollars, and a buyer wants to pay thirty dollars for the good, they might make a bid of twenty dollars, and appear to compromise and give up something by agreeing to meet in the middle—exactly where they wanted to be in the first place.

When should I increase my bids on Google Ads? ›

If a keyword's CPA is lower than your goal and is appearing in a low position, increase the bid. This will raise your ad position, giving your ad more visibility and likely more clicks and conversions. If a keyword has a high CPA and is consistently appearing in a top position, it may be time to reduce your bids.

What are the cons of automated bidding? ›

The drawbacks of automated bidding

One of them is that it requires a sufficient amount of data and conversions to work effectively. If your campaign is new, low-volume, or seasonal, you may not have enough data for the system to learn from and optimize your bids. This can lead to poor results or wasted budget.

When should you use automated bidding? ›

You can use automated bidding for one campaign and stick to manual for another — which is good, since the benefits of using automated bidding might vary from one campaign to another. Maybe for one campaign, one of your top priorities is control. You want to be fully involved in every part of your campaign.

What is Google bid strategy learning? ›

Learning. After you make a change to your bid strategy, there may be minor performance fluctuations as Google Ads optimizes your bids. To indicate this, a "Learning" status may be shown. You can hover over the status to show which of the following 4 reasons your bid strategy currently has a "Learning" status.

What is a bid adjustment on Google Ads with automated bidding? ›

Automated bidding

If you are using automated Smart Bidding strategies including target CPA, target ROAS, Maximise conversions, and Maximise conversion value, you don't need to make manual bid adjustments since those strategies automatically set bids to optimise for the conversion goal specified by the customer.

What makes automated bidding better for your Google Ads campaign than manual bidding? ›

For example, automated bidding rules are a great way to manage efficiencies within your Ads accounts. You can use automated controls to monitor a keyword's impressions compared to its CTR and conversions. If the CTR and conversions are too low, you can set an alert that will notify you to go in and take a closer look.

Why is it better to automate your bids than manual bids for a successful Google Ads campaign? ›

Automating your bid contribute to a successful Google Ads campaign. Because in the manual bidding, if you do not bid efficiently, you could miss valuable conversions. User intent and likelihood to complete valuable actions for your business do not vary based on location, time, or device.

Does Google Ads use real time bidding? ›

Google (Google Ads, Display & Video 360) can bid on your inventory in third-party real-time bidding auctions - even if you do not use AdMob as your mediation platform.


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