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John Lee

PPC Bid Management: Are You Managing Bids Efficiently?

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Bid management is arguably one of the most mundane activities that a PPC manager is tasked with. But it is essential to the health and performance of your campaigns.

So here is a question: How are you managing your bids? By this I mean literally – how are bids being changed? Not necessarily the strategy behind those changes. The “how” can have a major impact on time management and in some cases the effectiveness of those changes.

This is something of a back-to-basics article. Novice advertisers stand to learn something new. Experienced advertisers may get a needed refresh or even pick up something new.

Regardless, every PPC manager should be aware of the range of features and methods for managing bids efficiently and effectively. Here is a breakdown of the different ways you can manage your bids and the pros and cons of each.

Manual Bid Management (Basic)

These are the most basic methods for managing bids – and typically the starting point for every new PPC advertiser.

Native Interface – Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.

Pros:

  • Log in and go at it.
  • Edit bids in-line with data and filters.

Cons:

  • Lends itself to knee-jerk changes.
  • While bulk changes can be made, you can't apply logic (percentage changes, set dollar amount changes, etc.).

change-max-cpc-bids

Desktop Tools – AdWords Editor, Bing Ads Editor, Facebook Power Editor

Pros:

  • Manage in bulk with filters and in-line with data.
  • Flexibility of navigating and managing in a desktop style format.

Cons:

  • With larger accounts, campaign and performance data downloads can take considerable time.
  • Limitations in filters applied to bulk changes.

Manual Bid Management (Advanced)

Building on the foundation of the basic methods for managing PPC bids, these advanced methods up the ante – and your ability to make effective changes.

Desktop Tools – Using Logic (percentage changes, set dollar amount changes, etc.)

Pros:

  • Manage in bulk with filters, in-line with data and with logic.

Cons:

  • Same as before – download times can be long and filters are limited.

advanced-bid-management

change-bids-increase-bid-by-this-percent

Spreadsheets – Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, etc.

Pros:

  • Data filters and applied logic are only limited by your knowledge of spreadsheets.
  • Using spreadsheet formulas allow you to make massive bulk changes based on any combination of filters and logic – unlike the PPC desktop tools.

Cons:

  • As mentioned above, spreadsheets require some know-how. There is a learning curve.
  • Large accounts can be cumbersome to manage in spreadsheets and difficult to navigate.

Automated Bid Management

Enter the robots! Automated bid management uses scientific algorithms to filter and apply logic – ultimately making changes to your keywords and ad group bids.

Bid automation allows for the most efficient use of your time and resources to manage bids, but it comes with some risk. You must consistently review your rules and the history of any automated changes to ensure they are making the right changes for your campaigns.

Google AdWords Conversion Optimizer

Pros:

  • Let Google automatically adjust keyword bids to hit a target or maximum cost-per-acquisition.
  • Easy to set up and manage – adjust CPA bid at the ad group level.
  • Can be quite effective at helping you to hit your CPA goals.

Cons:

  • Lack of control. Bids are managed at the ad group level.
  • Can be fickle. Performance can degrade over time requiring a manual reset (turning Conversion Optimizer OFF, running on CPC bids for a time then turning Conversion Optimizer back ON).

focus-on-conversions-conversion-optimizer

Google AdWords Bulk Operations > Automated Rules

Pros:

  • Create detailed rules to adjust bids or pause keywords based on most performance metrics in AdWords.
  • Rules are easy to create and easy to access within AdWords.

Cons:

  • These rules only apply to AdWords! Will have no impact on other PPC channels.

create-rule-for-keywords

Google AdWords Bulk Operations > Scripts 

Pros:

  • Create bid rules based on data outside of AdWords (conversions, inventory, etc.).
  • Create layered rules that can affect not only keyword bids, but simultaneously adjust other elements (budgets, status, etc.).

Cons:

  • Requires knowledge of JavaScript – learning curve.
  • These rules only apply to AdWords! Will have no impact on other PPC channels.

3rd Party Tools – Acquisio, Marin, Kenshoo, etc.

Pros:

  • Allows you to create rules for most of your PPC channels (AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook, etc.).
  • Rules can be based on multiple layers of data – native reports, Google Analytics, platform specific reports, etc.

Cons:

  • Due to the multitude of options, there can be a learning curve for some advertisers.

rule-builder

Facebook Optimized CPM

Pros:

  • This bidding method allows you to set maximum bid levels for Actions, Reach, Social Impressions and CPC. Facebook will optimize your bids to reach these goals.
  • You can dictate which actions Facebook should optimize for (likes, image views, shares, etc.).

Cons:

  • Only applies to Facebook ads that direct visitors to Facebook Pages.
  • This isn’t exactly bid optimization. The optimized CPM is a series of “values.” What an action or click is worth to you, the advertiser.

pricing-and-status-optimized-cpm

That’s the rundown of PPC bid management features, folks. For many of you, this is just a refresher on the available options. For those of you still learning the PPC ropes, hopefully you picked up some new methods to give a try!

How do you prefer to manage your PPC bids? Leave me a comment!


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