Google Ads Manual Bidding VS Automated Bidding

Written by onlineacademy

January 18, 2023

Google Ads Manual Bidding VS Automated Bidding in Google Ads

Learn the pros and cons of Google Ads Manual bidding VS Automated bidding, also known as Smart bidding. Google ads has many options for bidding, it is important to know when to use Maximize Conversions, Target CPA, Target ROAS, or use Manual CPC when Smart bidding is failing miserably. 


Quick Summary of What You Will Learn:

1. New Campaigns and accounts may want to start with Manual CPC since there is no performance data for Smart Bidding to work off of. Sometimes it can take months to gather a decent amount of conversion data.

2. Maximize Conversions bidding can go wild with your CPC for no apparent reason. You can use Portfolio bidding to put a max CPC on it – this is well hidden in the account.

3. Target CPA can cause issues with volume if the CPA target is set too low. You typically need a lot of conversions for Google’s smart bidding to even figure this out at all.

4. Google’s own documentation references needing 20-30 conversions per month for smart bidding to work, even though some campaigns default to Max Conversions bidding for no reason. You have to now setup your campaign, and then switch to Manual CPC bidding later if you need to.

5. SMX conference recently covered Manual CPC VS Smart Bidding for Lead Generation in this last session here:
Quick summary – they often use Manual CPC for better results, especially in industries where leads are very expensive in B2B or other niches.

Our Google Ads Training Course covers bidding options, campaign setups, expert ad writing tips, complex campaign setup and more expert PPC strategies. 


Learn more in the video training here:


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Video Transcript:

okay in this video we wanted to talk about manual bidding versus automated bidding in Google ads there’s a lot of debate with this and you probably noticed if you have a newer account during the account setup uh this this is for a search campaign but it pops up with other campaigns the bidding defaults to conversions or maximize conversions is another another name for it you can even do conversion value uh different things like that or set a set of Target cost per auction Target CPA things like that so it’s weird that Google forced this in Google ads because it used to have the option to select manual CPC or manual bidding now it’s forcing it even though Google’s own documentation we will link to this uh below it says recommend measuring performance over longer time

periods that have at least 30 conversions such as a month or longer 50 conversions for Target row as return on ad spend so a lot of times what happens is people you know they just take Google’s advice Without Really you know if they’re beginners they don’t know any better or people say Well it starts with this you should definitely do it or use maximize conversions and it will maximize conversions smart bidding is trying to do whatever it says it’s doing if it’s trying or you set it for Max and versions it’s gonna try to maximize conversions if you set it to this it’s going to try to hit that number it doesn’t mean it’s always going to hit it so if you just put in you know I want five dollar or five dollar leads all day it’s just the magic algorithm works that’s it it doesn’t a lot of times setting a Target CPA too low can completely restrict it and you just get no volume or even Max conversions you see sometimes you get a 300 CPC which is cost per click uh the portfolios thing can block that or it’s doing alternative bid strategies you have to set it up first and then switch to manual

CPC which a lot of times even if you’re a huge fan of the automation sometimes it stalls out it gets stuck especially with a new account with a new campaign when you launch maximize conversions you’ll barely get any Impressions you’ll barely get any clicks or maybe you’ll spend 500 or a thousand dollars without a single conversion that’s because it doesn’t have any conversion data again it’s it’s telling you it needs a certain amount of conversions some of their document Google’s documentation says 20 other says 30. this has just been their rule they need a lot of conversions to do the automated bidding so this is actually a stupid move I don’t know why Google forced this I mean really set it up this way and we recommend starting with manual CPC at least in the beginning and most experts do they covered this recently uh in in SMX conference they were saying typically with lead generation or even e-commerce you’ll start with manual bidding for a month or two to build up some data get some conversions put some things in there and see what’s working we even

recommend doing a longer test or you can keep it on manual CPC forever it’s whatever gets results whatever’s working that’s what you should do e-commerce usually works better lead generation is automation really hasn’t been your best friend a lot of times it will pick your own brand name which is not really a good one or it can go off a competitor’s name which sometimes that works other times it keeps sending the wrong signals and it gets in a feedback loop and you’ll just constantly get bad leads because it’s seeing it as conversions or maybe it’ll hit a Target CPA but they’re really bad leads Google doesn’t know quality so you might pay five hundred dollars for a high value lead and 200 for a low value lead or maybe you’re collecting emails which are usually a dollar or two maybe five dollars for or free trials a ten dollar CPA there’s all these different numbers with manual uh CPC you can control the quality and different stages of the funnel much is an email Worth or you can

switch it maybe on the lower ones and get a couple hundred conversions per month you can switch that and let the automation work but without a high volume or some data automation usually doesn’t work you need to start it out in a different way there’s so many nuances it’s not just set it and it always works so we actually we cover a lot of this inside of our master class so I wanted to to cover that inside explain you know during the setup and how you would optimize it when you should use manual CPC or manual bidding versus automated bidding inside Google ads so we’ll go ahead and jump over to that now to explain some more details

most of the time you’ll do manual CPC which is just a manual bid so you can set it at two dollars ten dollars whatever you want to test so see how low you can get the bid and start getting some volume um we put in the optimization section because you you usually switch after you have some performance data even Google will tell you that it typically needs conversion data to optimize for conversions otherwise it’s just blindly testing a lot of different keywords and bids so you could even permanently leave it on manual if you don’t want to switch you don’t trust the automation or the algorithm you can permanently

leave it on there there’s nothing wrong with it it’s just whatever is getting results uh the the biggest things with these they there’s warnings that it say it it might lower your performance and don’t use this and it makes it seem like it’s some kind of error there’s really nothing wrong with it it’s just saying that you manually have to adjust everything it a warning makes it seem like you’re going to do worse unless you do automate automated bidding which simply isn’t true and if you look at the wording on some of these it makes it seem like if you click maximize conversions you will automatically get more conversions

and with automated it’s trying to get more conversions it could fail miserably uh it could do better than your manual bidding so it’s it’s something to test so this training video is actually going to be a sample from our actual training program so you can get a better idea of what’s in here uh what we offer some of these are more uh beginner lessons and they’ll go into more advanced so if you need more advanced training we do have a link below in the description that will give you access to discounts and different things like that from our Advanced Training and all of our different programs that’s going to be a link down in the description below so one example if you go back to the different options you could do this guided one that they have what are you trying to optimize for conversion or conversion value uh meaning if you have a store so conversions uh it’ll try to get as many conversions as possible with maximized

conversions it won’t necessarily do that it’s not going to guarantee it’s going to work you can also set a Target cost per action to try to keep it on a limit so Target CPA bidding it’s just targeting kind of what what number you want to pay per lead again I cannot stress this enough it’s not a guarantee that if you say I want two dollar leads suddenly you’ll get two dollar leads Google will try to do that but you have to use a realistic number based on past performance a lot of times if you’ve been running a campaign for a while it will suggest a number based on what you’ve had in the past so if you’re getting fifty dollar leads Google will probably suggest 50 to 70 dollar Target CPA because you have to you have to keep in a realistic number if you have a lot of conversions and you’re consistently doing well let’s just say you average thirty dollars uh

you can say thirty dollars or even try to try to push the automation lower to see if it could beat your manual bidding so it has a lot of conversions and you want to test Target CPA you would just go to conversions set a Target cost per action twenty dollars or even be really Brave maybe go to twenty dollars if you average 30 see if the automation can get even lower than you if the automation can’t do better than you and you switch it over and it ruins performance switch back to manual this is just something to test if you have the performance data and if you want to see if it can scale if you have a bigger budget the the campaign’s been running for a while and you want to test if it can get a lower

CPA maybe add a lot broader keywords in there more phrase match actual broad match and there’s there’s a wide range of search queries that people might find your product or service this could be something to test there would also be conversion value if you have a set value for your conversions or most commonly if it’s e-commerce you’re trying to set a number to get the highest order value as possible and with this one also you can set over a Target return on ad spend so it’s aiming to get a certain number for every one dollar we spend you get five dollars and that’s that’s five hundred percent something like

that so it it’s for usually tested for a larger budget if you have a wide range of keywords and you want to put on some automation to not have to manually adjust your bids all the time it’s worth testing it if it doesn’t work go ahead and take it off automation it’s not a perfect system so those are the most common ones I mean sometimes they can really scale sometimes they don’t um other ones would be clicks and you could set a maximum cost per click so it I mean it doesn’t go crazy uh this one you could do at the beginning if you’re trying to just get a huge volume a lot of clicks and then get some conversions on the back end and then optimize later I mean this is a lot less common because most people aren’t just going for clicks they’re going for conversions but if for some reason that makes sense to you that that could be something you test

maybe in the beginning or something that’s just branding but most of the time you’re trying to get conversions impression share uh that’s just trying to show as much as possible again that’s that’s really not a very common one um but that would just be to try to get the highest impression share number and a higher percentage that you’re aiming for so um really branding because it’s going to ignore your conversions but that’s just so you know that that’s what that one means most of the time you’ll do conversions with the target CPA if you want to test automation if this is intimidating and and you want to have manual control at all times just leave it on manual bidding and when you switch it give it at least 30 days sometimes even 60 to see if it can actually hit

the target CPA or lower uh it’s not going to work in a couple of days so again you have to have the higher budget to test this you might lose some money running it 30 to 60 days uh it might start picking up and the automation does extremely well but just you need to do at least 30 to 60 days and it works a lot better if the campaign has been running for a while three to six months ideally

a year and you switch it over to automation to see if it could beat out the manual bidding all right everyone thanks so much for watching our PPC ads training video uh if you want more videos go ahead and hit the Subscribe button uh like this video if you found it useful and any questions post them in the comments down below we also have additional training in the description so thanks so much for watching and we’ll see you in the next video

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