Be In The Know About Upcoming Improvements To AdWords Automated Bidding

By Kelsey Hadaller | Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

Last week, Google announced Smart Bidding for AdWords and DoubleClick Search as the new name for automated bidding. Smart Bidding is considered auction-time bidding since bids are decided on an auction by auction basis. If you are using any of the bidding strategies listed below, you are already taking advantage of Smart Bidding.


  • Target CPA
  • Target ROAS
  • Enhanced CPC


Review Of Automated Bidding Options


Target CPA


Recommended for campaigns with at least 30 conversions over the last 30 days. AdWords uses campaign history to set bids that will achieve conversions around the target CPA.


Target ROAS


Can be used in campaigns that use values for tracked conversions. Campaigns or ad groups must have received at least 15 conversions over the last 30 days to use this bidding strategy.


Enhanced CPC


Automatically modifies the manual ad group or keyword level bids based on historical performance. While advertisers set manual bids, ECPC can increase bids by up to 30% and decrease bids by 100%.


With Enhanced CPC, Smart Bidding is an option even if campaigns or ad groups do not have high conversion volume. Smart bidding uses the below factors when deciding the most efficient bid for all three strategies.


  • Campaign structure
  • Keywords
  • Landing pages
  • Ad copy
  • Product information
  • Impression device
  • User location and language
  • Browser


AdWords also announced new automated bidding signals that will factor into the algorithm in the future. Some of these include signals include price competitiveness, product attributes, seasonality, and location intent.


New Device Options For CPA Bidding


One of the missing pieces of Target CPA bidding was the ability to have different CPA targets per device. In last week’s announcement, AdWords announced device-specific Target CPA bidding will be rolling out in August. This feature will be especially useful for accounts where Average Order Value or Return on Investment vary by device.


Currently, the only way to control mobile bid adjustments for campaigns using Target CPA bidding is to bid down by 100%. Anything other than a -100% bid modifier does not impact mobile bids since Target CPA bidding optimizes bids by device. As you can see below, the mobile bid simulator is not available for this campaign because it uses Target CPA Smart Bidding.


Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 4.08.44 PM


Additional Insights


While Smart Bidding is a hands-off approach to maximizing efficiency of keyword bids, AdWords is providing new reporting features so advertisers can assess the automated bidding strategy’s performance and combine manual account optimizations with the convenience of Google’s algorithm.


Bid Strategy Statuses


If you set up automated bid strategies either in the Shared Library or by campaign, take advantage of the statuses AdWords provides to get more insight into the process. Bid statuses are either inactive, not limited, limited, or learning. You can even see why the bidding strategy is in the learning status by hovering over the speech bubble similar to checking why an ad was disapproved.


Statuses also update whenever changes are made to the campaign’s budget or settings and even when keywords are added to or removed from the bidding strategy. To see this report, first add “bid strategy type” as a column in the AdWords interface. Then, select one of the campaigns using automated bidding, select the “Bid strategy” drop-down and then click on “View bid strategy report.”


Bid Status


You’ll then see performance over time for this campaign and the status of the bidding strategy. The Display Remarketing campaign selected in this example is using Target CPA and has a learning status.


Learning Bid Status


The below example shows all bid strategies that were set up in the Shared Library. You can see this account has 4 different Target CPA bid strategies set up. The strategy titled “Target CPA – $17” is currently limited due to low conversion volume. This is a good indicator that Target CPA might not be the best automated bidding strategy. Using Enhanced CPC bidding could be more valuable for this campaign instead.


Target CPA Bid Status


Alerts And Notifications


If you are interested in setting up Smart Bidding in your AdWords accounts but don’t know where to start, take a look at the account’s notifications. AdWords will point out which campaigns are eligible for Target CPA bidding based on conversion volume.




AdWords will also send an alert if a conversion tracking error is suspected. These alerts are not only important to make sure conversions are being reported, but shifts in conversion volume can alter automated bids as well.


Final Thoughts


Smart Bidding can be a good option for advertisers who were skeptical of Target CPA bidding in the past since Google has worked to improve the machine learning algorithm. If you are already a fan of AdWords Smart Bidding, be sure to check in on the bidding strategy statuses. AdWords is making improvements to increase transparency on automated bidding strategies and their performance.