The case for automated bidding in PPC advertising

‘Automated’ bidding in Google Ads is where the maximum cost-per-click for a keyword is left to the system to meet a defined criterion, such as maximising quality clicks for a given budget. It has been available for a long time as an alternative to setting a ‘manual’ bid for every keyword.

Like driving a car with an automatic gearbox, automated bidding has generally been seen by those who consider themselves ‘professionals’ as somehow beneath them. At a pay-per-click advertising agency conference a few years back, I remember a show of hands in the room indicating that 90% of agencies there saw manual bidding as the ‘proper’ way to do a job for clients. I think their problem with automated bidding was twofold: it made things a bit too easy, and it left the bidding in the hands of the enemy: Google’s algorithms.

We never had any hesitation with using automated bidding once we’d seen from tests how well it worked. No way would we let professional pride get in the way of efficiency. By not spending much of our time juggling manual bids for hundreds or thousands of search terms, we could devote resources to improving advert copy and experimenting with other types of advertisements.

I’m pleased to see that more industry colleagues are using automated bidding nowadays. If you think about it, everyone should get better results if their strategies and requirements can all be carefully balanced against each other, and only the auction system itself can do this. The arguments for keeping bids under individual manual control include not being able to increase bids on core terms, but just put such keywords in their own campaign. Similarly it’s quite straightforward to keep the different match types under individual control (another often-cited objection), and it’s easy to stop Google going mad with the bidding using maximum CPC.

I can understand why some professionals don’t like to cede control to the technology, but as with driving a car, I’d rather let the machine do the work as much as possible.