I recently spoke with a Google employee who revealed that Google is planning to remove the manual CPC bidding method within the next one to two years. This leaves only automated bidding methods for Google Ads accounts.
How automated bidding has killed the manual bid
Google has released several automated bidding strategies over the last few years. And they strongly push you to implement them on your campaigns. I’ve rolled out automated bidding for the majority of my clients. I enjoy not having to do so much grunt work managing individual bids at the keyword level, digging through spreadsheets of financial data and fine tuning bids as much. But the reality is, automated bidding has been forced on us if we want to compete.
Example of why automated bidding is the only way forward
Imagine you have ten competitors. All of them blindly adopt Google’s suggestions and set their campaigns to an automated bidding strategy focusing on target impression share for top of search. They have no max CPC set. You’re sitting over here with your campaign set to manual CPC and you’re managing it at the keyword level. What’s going to happen? Every time you nudge your bids up to rank, your competitors’ campaigns will automatically increase to outrank you. I know what you’re thinking: “but my quality scores will set me apart and Google will reward me.” Who has more time to spend on landing pages, ad copy and targeting? The guy that’s micro-managing his bids, or the guy that’s not looking at bids and only focusing on conversion? Conclusion: You have no chance of competing against Google’s army of robots setting keyword bids using some ungodly number of signals based on browsing habits on their browser using their search engine on a platform they built.
But the reality is, automated bidding isn’t always the best fit for every campaign.
Automated bidding can be bad for business if:
- You have zero conversion data in your account. Google can’t bid for conversions if you have no data.
- You’re syncing worthless conversions with Google Ads because your Google Analytics is setup wrong. Google will bid incorrectly if you’re importing conversions like page visits and other events that are misleading.
- Your ad groups contain very broad match keyword phrases and you’re bidding automatically to rank on the top of the search results. You will drain your budget unless your negative keyword list is dialed in (but in some cases, still impossible to reduce waste to acceptable levels) and you will get hosed.
I see this all the time and it worries me that some of these changes won’t be in the best interest of the business.
If Google’s smart enough to spend, they should be smart enough to save
How about some automated alerts when your account setup is really bad?
I have a client that had his account set like this:
- Target impression share maxed out with no max CPC
- Two-word broad match modifier keywords with a quality score of 1
- Only broad match modifier keywords triggered clicks (no phrase or exact clicks)
- Almost no negative keywords
- An average cost-per-click ranging from $33 - $50 dollars
- A monthly budget of $2,500 (drained with the high CPC)
- Duplicate conversion goals that skewed data
- Most ads pointing to the homepage which was not great
Google has so much data, they should be able to tell from the above scenario that this is a recipe for disaster. How about an alert saying “your account is setup for failure.”You don’t need quantum AI to see patterns that lead to poor performance. It’s in everyone’s best interest that the ads work. The more customers the advertiser gets, the more money they’ll re-invest in Google Ads. The more money they re-invest, the more money Google makes. I used to be concerned that all this automation would replace the need for a search marketing consultant or firm. But the more they roll out, the more confusing Google Ads gets for businesses and the more they need an independent view from outside the Google box.