Paid Search Bidding Strategies

Joanna Tran
September 8, 2020

“Which bidding strategy should I use?”

That’s a question all digital advertisers need to answer if they want their Google and Bing ads to show. That can be pretty daunting.

Manual or automated? Semi-automated? What does automated fully entail? Are you guaranteed results?

The one you choose can be the deciding factor between getting a ton of conversions at a great cost per acquisition or spending a ton of money with no conversions at all.

Both platforms have a plethora of bidding options to choose from. So the question is: Which is the best one for your budget and your goal?

Let’s explore the ones available on both search platforms:

Manual Bidding Strategies

Manual cost per click (CPC) is the easiest strategy to understand. For manual bidding, users set their desired bids at the keyword or ad group level, and the search platform will always use this come auction time.

While this gives advertisers full control in how much they’re willing to pay, it can also be very time consuming to manage.

Semi-Automated Bidding Strategies

Both platforms offer Enhanced CPC (eCPC). Advertisers can set their desired bids at the keyword or ad group level, but the search networks have the ability to adjust them higher or lower per auction, depending on whether it believes it will lead to a conversion.

On Bing, the platform maintains that the average CPC will not be higher than the set bid.

On Google, there is no bid cap so there’s a possibility of the average CPC creeping above the initial bid. As it is a much more competitive network, Google will likely adjust CPCs higher per auction compared to Bing.

It’s a good idea to use this bidding strategy when launching new campaigns. It gives you a good idea of what CPCs you can expect, and will prevent you from overspending on keywords.

Automated Bidding Strategies

Both platforms have some automated bidding strategies to choose from.

When it comes to automated bidding, it’s important to keep an eye on campaigns and performance as things progress. While machine learning is intelligent, it can easily spend a ton of money without getting the results you desire.

Maximize Clicks

This bidding strategy will aim to get you the maximum amount of clicks within your set daily budget. This strategy works best if there’s a good conversion funnel in place and it’s time to increase the volume of traffic to the website, or if your goal is just a maximized attention to your product.

On both platforms, advertisers have the ability to set a maximum cost-per-click (CPC) so the average CPC shouldn’t get wildly out of control. But keep an eye on this - this strategy pushes to spend the entire daily budget and will pay for expensive clicks if it needs to do so.

It’s also important to note that advertisers can’t set individual bids on any of the keywords - Google and Bing have final say over the CPC. However, Bing will take any active bid adjustments into consideration, so that may end up pushing the average CPC higher than desired.