The Best Bidding Strategies to Get the Most Out of Google Ads

The Best Bidding Strategies to Get the Most Out of Google Ads

John Reserva
By John Reserva

There’s a lot to juggle when you’re running a Google Ads campaign. You want to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords, attracting the right audience and optimising your landing page for conversions – all while sticking to budget.

Whether you’re wanting to drive more traffic to your website or increase visibility for a new product you’re launching, choosing the right Google Ads bidding strategy is crucial. It can make the difference between a profitable campaign and campaign that flops.

This guide to Google Ads bidding strategies will help you wrap your head around the different options and when to use them. Plus, we’ve thrown in a few pro tips on how to get the most out of your bidding strategy.

How Does Google Ads Bidding Work?

How Does Google Ads Bidding Work

Every time there’s an ad space available on the Google search network or Display Network, Google runs an auction. Advertisers bid in order for their ads to show up. The way you bid depends on what your goals are – most advertisers focus on clicks, impressions, conversions or views.

Google offers a big range of ways to bid for ads. When you know what your goals are, how your target audience behaves and who you’re competing with, you can choose the smartest Google Ads bidding strategies.

Need to brush up on the basics of Google Ads? Check out our article Google Ads Explained By the Professionals.

Before You Start – Know Your Goals

Google Ads Bidding Strategies & When To Use

Before you launch any marketing campaign it’s important to know where you’re going and what you want to achieve. Then you can make the best decisions now to help you get there.

Perhaps you want to get your products in front of your competitor’s customers. Or maybe you want Perth based customers to find your business when they are typing in “dog groomers near me”.  

Whether it's building awareness, attracting more traffic to your site or driving sales, being smart with your Google Ads bidding strategy will help you get better results.

Manual vs Automatic vs Smart Bidding

Manual vs Automatic Vs Smart Bidding Google Ads

You can choose to use a manual or automatic Google Ads bidding strategies.

Manual bidding allows you to adjust your bids manually at the keyword or ad group level. You have complete control over the maximum amount you want to bid for your keywords, which can be super beneficial for some types of campaigns. However, it can be a bit of a steep learning curve if you’re new to Google Ads.

With automatic bidding strategies, Google automatically sets bids for your ads based on how likely they are to get a click or conversion. Automatic bidding uses data from current and past bids to adjust future bids for higher rates of success. It can take some of the guesswork out of bidding, but might not be ideal for all campaigns.

Smart bidding is a special type of automatic bidding that uses Google’s “auction-time bidding”. Smart bidding allows you to optimise for conversion or conversion value in every single auction

It’s important to know that conversion data or history determines how well your smart bidding will work. For newly launched campaigns without the conversion data, automated bidding strategies such as maximised clicks will be used.

12 Google Ads Bidding Strategies and When to Use Them

Know Your Google Ads Goals

There are many different types of Google Ads bidding strategies that your business can use, whether you’re running campaigns on the Google Search Network or Google Display Network. Below, we introduce you to 12 bidding strategy types and when to use them.

  • Smart Bidding
    • Target Cost Per Action
    • Target Return On Ad Spend
    • Maximise Conversions
    • Maximise Conversion Value
    • Enhanced Cost Per Click
  • Cost Per Click Bidding
    • Maximise Clicks (Automated)
    • Manual Cost Per Click (Manual)
  • Visibility Bidding
    • Target Impression Share (Manual)
    • Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) (This is only applicable for display)
    • Cost Per Viewable Thousand Impressions (vCPM)  (This is only applicable for display) 
    • Target Cost Per Viewable Impressions (tCPM)  (This is only applicable for display)
  • Video Views or Interaction Bidding 
    • Cost Per View Bidding
  • Portfolio Bid Strategies


Smart Bidding Strategies

Smart Bidding is a good option if you want customers to take action on your site. For example, sign up for your newsletter, fill out your contact form or make a purchase. 

Smart Bidding is automated. It uses machine learning so that your conversions are optimised based on real data. It takes into account things like what devices your target customer is using, when they’re using it and where. 

The different types of Smart Bidding strategies include:

1. Target CPA (Cost Per Action)

The aim of Target CPA is to help you get as many customers converting at or below the defined cost per target. For example, if you are prepared to invest $4 in selling your dog grooming services valued at $60, Google will seek to get as many clients converting at $4 (or below) as possible.  

Let’s say you sell $50 T-Shirts online and you’re only willing to pay Google a maximum of $5 per sale – Target CPA is a good bidding strategy to use to ensure control and profitability.

2. Target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)

Target ROAS is all about getting your bids to achieve your revenue goals. For example, if you’re wanting to generate $60 in revenue from your dog grooming business for every $4 spent on your ad campaign, you would set a ROAS target of 1500%.   

ROAS bidding strategies are best suited for businesses who have already run a conversion campaign. That’s because Google likes to use a little historical data. Be sure to discuss this with one of our trusty Google Ads experts about when you’re thinking of using this little number.

3. Maximise Conversions

This bidding strategy takes a bit of behavioural insight and uses it to get you the optimal number of conversions for your Google Ads campaign.

If we stick with our dog grooming scenario, historical data may show that people looking for dog groomers are on android devices searching and booking services between 7am and 8:30 am, Monday to Friday. With maximising conversions as the goal, Google will seek to use this information and spend your daily budget at those times when the opportunity arises. 

If you’re prepared to spend say $5000 ad budget and want to get the highest amount of leads regardless of the cost per lead (because the profit per lead potential is high) – then maximise conversion is a good strategy.

4. Maximise Conversion Value

This Google Ads bidding strategy allows you to maximise the total conversion value of your ad campaign. Machine learning and auction-time bidding are used to optimise, set and tailor bids for each auction.

While the maximise conversions strategy (explained above) will try and maximise conversions for a given budget, maximise conversion value bidding tries to generate the most conversion value for your given budget.  

It is essential to be tracking conversion value on your campaign or else your bidding strategy will not work. 

Choosing to use the maximum conversion strategy (explained in point 3) will result in more purchases and a lower CPA, whereas maximum conversion value will result in higher ROAS. 

Let’s use another example to break this one down a bit more. Let’s say your shop specialises in selling international products and have 2 ads running; the first one selling 1 bar of chocolate for $0.50 and the second one selling a family 24 pack of soda for $20.

If your first chocolate ad gets 1000 purchases a month (totaling to $500), and your ad spend was $250, then your ROAS would be 2:1, with a CPA of $0.25. 

On the other hand, if the second ad running for your family pack soda cans get 50 purchases in a month (totaling to $1000) with the same ad spend of $250, this will give you an ROAS of 4:1, with a CPA of $5. 

This is where you want the Maximum Conversion Value strategy selected, where it will maximise conversion value for the set budget, therefore pushing more for your second ad to bring in a higher ROAS.

5. Enhanced Cost Per Click (CPC)

With Enhanced CPC, Google looks at your campaign performance from the past and works to show your ads where you have previously performed the best. This bidding strategy can be used with search and display ad campaigns.

Enhanced CPC is similar to manual bidding in that you can set your keyword bids manually. The difference is that the Google Ads algorithm can make adjustments on your manually set bid based on past data.  

So if you aren’t ready to let Google fully drive with automated bid selection, this allows you compromised control – something our Google Ads specialists in Perth love to assist with. 

Cost Per Click Bidding Strategies

Cost Per Click Bidding Strategies

Cost Per Click (CPC) bidding strategies are a good choice if you want to focus on getting traffic to your website. Keyword strategy matters a lot here, not just how much you’re prepared to pay per click.

The different CPC bidding strategies include:

6. Maximise Clicks

The focus with Maximise Clicks is to get the most clicks on your ad within your budget. It’s all about driving traffic to your website where, hopefully, customers will be persuaded to take action. 

Google will tend to give the most prominent spots to ads, products and keywords that are most likely to be clicked against the others.

Maximise Clicks can be used as a stand-alone bidding strategy or as part of a Portfolio bidding strategy.

7. Manual Cost-Per-Click (CPC) Bidding

Manual CPC bidding is perfect if you want to set exactly how much you are prepared to pay for a click. This bidding strategy allows you to allocate your ad spend based on the success of keywords. 

Manual bidding can be intimidating when you’re new to Google Ads, but with a little know-how from the team at Dilate, it’s a great way to get optimisation happening.

Visibility Bidding Strategies

Visibility Bidding Strategies

Visibility may be your bidding strategy of choice if you need to build brand awareness and get customer eyes on your product or service.

The visibility bidding strategies include:

8. Target Impression Share

Target Impression Share helps you achieve your visibility goals and can be used as a stand-alone or as part of a portfolio bidding strategy. Essentially, you set a goal impression share percentage and Google adjusts your bid automatically.

There are three placement options with target impression share:

  • absolute top of the search results page
  • top of the search results
  • anywhere on the page

Google takes into account where you want your ads to appear to adjust your bids. You can also set a maximum CPC bid limit – but this can be a fine art. Be sure to discuss the ins and outs of setting bid amounts too high or too low with your dedicated Google Ads specialist.

9. Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM Bidding)

The goal here is visibility on Google’s Display Network. This is different from the search network (including Google search and Google images). The upside to CPM bidding is you only pay when your ad stays visible for a set period of time – the exact time varies between video and static ads. 

10. Cost Per Thousand Viewable Impressions (vCPM)

Let’s say your goal isn’t to get people to click on your ad necessarily, but you want a lot of people to see your ad. vCPM bidding could be the way to go. The ad placements of this bidding strategy are usually above the fold or as banners on a site or publisher.

It’s a manual bidding strategy that’s used for ads on the Google Display Network (not the search network). You bid for your ad based on how often it appears somewhere viewers can see it and you set the maximum amount you want to spend, whether the ads are clicked on or not.

11. Target Cost Per Thousand Impressions (tCPM)

With this bidding strategy, you set how much you want to pay on average per thousand views of your video ad. It’s an automated strategy, which means Google adjusts your bid to optimise how many impressions your ad gets. Some impressions may cost more or less than your target cost, but Google’s algorithm will try and keep your average at or below the target.

Video View and Interaction Strategies

Video Views and Interaction

Video Views or Interaction bidding strategies are for video-based ads. Video is a great way to capture the attention of your ideal customer – especially when you consider that globally 1 billion hours of YouTube content is watched per day.

12. Cost Per View Bidding

If you’re running a video ad campaign, you may want to consider the Cost Per View bidding strategy. 

Cost per view means that you pay when people view or interact with your ad. Your ads appear before other YouTube videos for at least five seconds, but you usually don’t have to pay unless someone watches more than 30 seconds or clicks on your ad.

If you’re considering a video campaign to reach your customers, be sure to ask our in-house creative team about how long your ad should be.

Portfolio Bidding Strategies

Portfolio Bidding Strategies

Portfolio bidding combines a range of smart bidding, cost per click and visibility bidding strategies. You can group together multiple campaigns, ad groups and keywords with this strategy, whatever your marketing goals are. 

Portfolio bidding strategies are stored, managed and tracked in your Shared Library. This allows you to make quick changes to bidding settings for all campaigns that use a single portfolio bidding strategy.

What’s the Best Google Ads Bidding Strategy For Me?

Choosing The Right Google Ads Strategy For You

The best Google Ads bidding strategies for your business depends on what marketing goals you have and the nature of your industry. Keep in mind some ad campaigns work better on the display network while others perform better on the search network.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options out there. Handing your Google Ads management over to the pros could free you up to focus on what you do best.

At Dilate, we’ve worked with hundreds of businesses across all kinds of industries to get impressive results with Google Ads. Our team can help you develop an effective Google Ads campaign, including optimising your bidding strategy.

Give us a call today on to get started.

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