Google Ads: Automatic Bidding vs. Manual Bidding

For many companies, Google Ads is an easy and effective way to promote their products and brand.

Google Ads levels the playing field for smaller companies by enabling them to advertise without laying out large sums of capital.

Recently, Google has gone even further by offering the option of allowing artificial intelligence (AI) to run pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.

This is a risky gambit for many companies. If you have limited resources and a shrinking advertising budget, you may be hesitant to turn over control of your PPC campaign to an automated process.

In this blog, I’ll review several important considerations related to manual bidding versus automated bidding.

Why Companies Use Pay-Per-Click

More and more people are using the Internet to shop, communicate, and socialize. This shift in where the public spends the majority of its time has made Google—the world’s premiere search engine—an advertising giant.

What You Should Know About Manual Bidding

Manual bidding, as the phrase suggests, is the direct and on-hands management of keyword bids on Google Ads. You make all decisions about your PPC account without AI assistance.

Experience, unique market insight and expertise, and analysis of past keyword performance data can all be used to guide such decision-making. However, it should be noted that this process requires a great deal of time and effort. To get a good return on manual bidding, the people involved in it must be highly competent and have the right level of experience.

This form of bidding may be best if you have a limited budget and a small amount of consumer data. The benefits of manual bidding include:

  • Control: You can be as aggressive as you want to win bids on specific key words and phrases
  • Responsiveness: You can change your keyword bids quickly in response to new competitors and your lowest performers
  • No delays: Manual bidding changes take effect immediately

You should also be aware of the downsides of manual bidding. As your PPC account grows bigger, it will become harder to manage. You may be compelled to hire more people to monitor and manage it, which can eat away at your advertising budget. Manual bidding is also vulnerable to human errors, some of which can be quite costly.

What You Should Know About Automatic Bidding

Automatic bidding is also known as smart bidding. This form of bidding is the best option if you have large PPC accounts, a great deal of historical data, and no experts in manual bidding and no desire to hire any.

If you are a growing company or a well-established one with significant capital reserves, you may be better off letting Google AI take charge of your account.

Here are some of the specific benefits of going down this route:

  • Versatile segmentation: This involves the creation of customized subsections within your broader target audience based on their shared interests and behaviors
  • Efficiency: The AI technology will allow you to manage thousands of keywords and hundreds of ad groups at once
  • Accurate prediction models: The advanced algorithms can give you a sound foundation for decision-making by making accurate predictions about your campaigns
  • Cost-effectiveness: Your team will spend less time on monitoring your Google Ads accounts, which will free them up for more pressing business matters

While automated bidding is a highly effective way to manage your PPC campaign, in almost all cases, you should not start off with it. The smarter move is to go with manual bidding initially, test the waters, and wait until your account has a steady flow of traffic and you have reached a statistically significant number of conversions from which you can make educated decisions.

You should also be aware that any changes you make to Google Ads will take some time to implement if you are using AI. You will need to manually sync if you want the changes to take effect immediately.

If you intend to pursue automated bidding, then there are a few common strategies—which appear as settings on the account—that are worth learning about. They include:

1. Maximize conversions

This sets keyword bids to get the most conversions possible with a given budget. If you set your account to maximize conversions, the AI system will check your daily budget and determine how best to use it. You should be warned that your entire budget can be consumed if you are not careful, which is why you should carve out a stand-alone budget for this type of campaign.

2. Maximize clicks

If you configure your Google Ads campaign with this option, the top priority will be getting ad clicks. The AI system will automatically determine bids based on the likelihood of earning a click or conversion. The system will do so based on the following criteria: device, operating system, demographics, location, and time of day.

It is still possible to set bid limits with this option. However, you should be aware that excessively tight limits will restrict the number of clicks you may get.

There are real differences between manual and automatic bidding on Google Ads. If you have just established a start-up, then you should begin with manual bidding. Over time, you may decide to opt for automatic bidding. But this decision should only be made in light of your PPC budget, your business goals, and the experience and expertise of your workforce.

Build Your Brand With YouTube: New Ways To Drive Reach And Engage Your Audience At Scale

The digital video boom is here. As people spend more time at home and the need for relevant, fresh content is at an all-time high, the shift from linear to digital video is accelerating.

On YouTube in particular, over 2 billion people globally are gravitating toward timely content, from live entertainment like Post Malone’s livestreamed living room concerts to transformative current events like rallying cries for racial justice from creators. They are also favoring the TV screen—with watch time growing across regions. In the US for example, watch time on YouTube and YouTube TV on TV screens jumped 80 percent year over year

Leading brands are making the most of YouTube’s massive reach and deeply relevant content to build brand awareness, and ultimately, drive results at scale. Today, we’re sharing new ways to help advertisers achieve these goals, including expanded reach planning solutions and advanced contextual targeting—a new and better way to show up in the right contexts for your customers.

Expanded tools to drive efficient reach and fuel your awareness strategy on YouTube

More viewership and the right mix of tools to reach a growing audience means that YouTube can offer incremental reach for the same budget. In the US, our relationship with Nielsen helps advertisers find the right mix. On average, advertisers saw that shifting just 20% of spend from TV to YouTube generated a 25% increase to the total campaign reach within their target audience, lowering the cost per reach point by almost 20%, across 21 Share Shift studies we’ve commissioned from Nielsen.1 To help global marketers, we are expanding our evaluation of Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings to the UK and Italy.

When marketers include YouTube to drive efficient reach, they are seeing it pay off in real business results. Katie Haniffy, Head of Media, PepsiCo Beverages, turned to YouTube to drive scale and extend reach of Pepsi’s “Gift it Forward” Holiday campaign. The creative, starring Cardi B, celebrated the gifting mindset during the holiday season.  “We knew YouTube had to play a critical role in ‘Gift it Forward’ as it continues to deliver strong performance across the beverage portfolio. The ‘Gift it Forward’ campaign did not disappoint—YouTube drove new brand buyers during the holiday season to the unique audience we wanted to reach.”

To help you easily plan campaign strategies that take advantage of this incremental reach beyond TV, soon we are also expanding TV data in Reach Planner to more countries, including France, Spain and Vietnam.

Additionally, if you’re looking to plan YouTube with other online video partners, we’re enabling reach planning capabilities across your entire campaign in Display & Video 360 including YouTube, auction and programmatic deals. 

Use Video reach campaigns for a simpler way to buy efficient reach across ad formats. 

Since launch, we’ve seen when advertisers combine skippable in-stream ads and bumpers into one campaign optimized for unique reach, they see higher lifts in Brand Awareness than advertisers who bought either format on its own.4  Marion Carpentier, Omni Business Leader at French men’s wear brand, Jules, says “By combining multiple formats into one campaign on YouTube, we were not only able to reach incremental audiences at a more optimal frequency compared to other video partners, but were able to drive a relative brand lift of 4.9 percent.” 

A new way to show up in the right contexts for your brand

YouTube’s ability to drive mass reach means we can also deliver scale in specific contexts that matter for consumers and your brand. To make it easier to discover the content that’s best for you, today we are announcing YouTube dynamic lineups—powered by advanced contextual targeting.

Advanced contextual targeting is the next generation of content targeting on YouTube. It uses Google’s machine learning to better understand each channel on YouTube, including analysis of video imagery, sound, speech and text. 

This allows us to create lineups5 that are scalable across content based on specific topics, cultural moments or popularity. For example, in addition to home or lifestyle lineups in most markets, you can find more nuanced choices like “home and garden” and “home improvement.” This means better access to customers with unique interests and needs—all with the brand suitability controls that are most important for your business.  

It also means you’re able to drive greater impact for your brand. A recent study conducted by Google and Ipsos in the US found that video advertising based on consumer interest and intent has significantly more impact than demo—with a 32 percent higher lift in ad recall and 100 percent higher lift in purchase intent. 

Complement your audience strategy with dynamic lineups to maximize reach.

Early adopters like OMD are seeing strong results using YouTube dynamic lineups to complement their existing audience strategies. Chrissie Hanson, Global Chief Strategy Officer at OMD says, “Using lineups powered by advanced contextual targeting delivers a more relevant and empathetic understanding of audiences. This in turn serves to drive more relevant reach and efficiencies for our customers, as part of a broader program that leverages audiences and other tactics across YouTube.” 

YouTube dynamic lineups are launching on a rolling basis starting today and will be fully available by the end of September in ten markets. They are available across both Google Ads and Display & Video 360, with more countries coming soon.

From sales to ROI—deliver the results that matter

Most importantly, efficient reach and relevant ad experiences must drive not only awareness, but also business results. Across global Marketing Mix Modeling studies we’ve commissioned from Nielsen, we’ve seen YouTube deliver the bottom line results you care about.

Check out our new awareness collection—from success stories to trends

We’re sharing a new collection of resources on our Advertising Solutions Center to help you build awareness for this new world. You’ll hear first-hand perspectives from companies like PepsiCoDomino’s and Jules, delve into trends driving YouTube viewership and learn about our newest product innovations built to better meet your awareness objectives. We’ll continue to roll out more content on the Advertising Solutions Center in the coming weeks.

We hope these latest updates will help you build your brand for today, and create resiliency for tomorrow.

Reach out to your Google sales rep to learn more about the solutions above, including best practices on campaign set-up, how to apply for the Video reach campaigns beta and how to access YouTube dynamic lineups in your market.

Source: Official Google Webmasters Blog

Better Conversion Measurement For Video Ads On YouTube And Our Network

From sparking an idea to helping people make that final decision, online video plays an important role in helping consumers make purchases. In fact, 70 percent of people say they bought a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube. For advertisers, measuring video campaigns and conversions accurately has never been more important—or more complex—given all the different paths the consumer journey can take. 

That’s why we’ve been researching engaged-view conversions (EVC), a more robust non-click conversion metric. EVCs measure the conversions that take place after someone views 10 seconds or more of your skippable ad, but doesn’t click, and then converts within a set amount of days. EVCs are a more robust way to measure conversions than view-through conversions (VTCs), an industry standard that measures the conversions that take place after a person views an impression of your ad, but doesn’t click.

We’ve heard from advertisers that it can be challenging to assess the impact of video ad campaigns on conversions when you can’t compare across ad formats. That is why today we’re announcing that by the end of the year we will make engaged-view conversions a standard way of measuring conversions for TrueView skippable in-stream ads, Local campaigns and App campaigns. Our vision for the coming year is to give you more transparent reporting across both click and engaged-view conversions, aggregated and anonymously, and new configurability options for conversion measurement to make data-driven media decisions for your business.  

Engaged-view conversions are informed by incrementality studies

Our teams have run large-scale incrementality studies over the years that confirmed the causal impact of video ad campaigns were undervalued when considering clicks alone. Based on these studies, we found that most incremental conversions come from engaged users who are given the option to skip, but choose to watch your ad. In fact, over 60 percent1 of all skips on YouTube direct response in-stream video ads happen before 10 seconds. Therefore, the decision to watch 10 seconds of a skippable ad is a user choice that signals an ‘engaged-view’. When these engaged-views result in conversions within a set amount of days, engaged-view conversions are included in the conversion report.

The incrementality studies we ran also determined the default attribution window for engaged-view conversions. The default attribution window is tailored based on consumer behavior for each campaign goal and is set to three days for TrueView for action, two days for App campaigns for Install and one day for App campaigns for engagement. But you know your business best, and will be able to set the right attribution window based on your customers’ behavior and campaign goals in the coming year.

We look forward to seeing how engaged-view conversions can help you understand the value of your ads and grow your business as user behavior evolves and new viewing habits, devices and experiences become available.

Source: Official Google Webmasters Blog