Stop Wasting Your Digital Advertising Ad Spend: Making Manual Bid Adjustments

There are many instances when manual CPC bidding is still the best bid strategy. However, there are also many pitfalls with manual CPC bidding which lead to an unbelievable amount of wasted spend. Below is a step by step guide to avoiding wasted spend if you’re using manual CPC bidding.

When to use Target CPA Bidding

Target CPA bidding has proven itself to be highly effective in certain circumstances. Our rule of thumb is, to use Target CPA bidding if all of the following apply:

  • Your main KPI is trackable in Google (if your main KPI lies in your back end platform, manual CPC might be better for you.
  • If you have enough historical conversion data in a campaign
  • If you are consistently hitting your target CPA

We have found that in the majority of cases, you’ll see an increase in conversion volume at a similar or better CPA. However, if the above does not apply then you’re better off using a manual CPC bidding strategy.

Bidding to Increase Volume

Within Google Ads Editor we find it helpful to create filters with the following metrics to make bidding fast and easy!

    1. Increase bids: For keywords that have converted, are meeting desired CPA but are in lower than position 1.
    2. Increase bids by 100%: For keywords that have converted, are meeting desired CPA but are in position 6 or worse.
    3. Bid increases for low activity keywords:  Conv = 0, Spend < $50 (or CPA threshold), and position is lower than 1
      Do a 3 or 6 month lookback each month and add a “Comment” to keywords that have historically been bleeders; never apply low activity bid

      Expert Tip! Tier bidding based on position. For example increase the bids by a greater percentage for keywords in position 6, versus in position 5, 4, 3, and 2. 

Bidding to Improve Efficiency

If you need to improve efficiency of your spend, lower overall CPA then we suggest the following actions:

  1. Decrease bids: If a keyword has converted in the past 90 days but is over your target CPA bid then decrease bids.
  2. Decrease bids: If a keyword has NOT converted in the past 90 days but spend is higher than the average keyword then remove the keyword completely.
  3. Decrease bids: If a keyword has NOT converted in the past 90 days then tier bidding based upon your cost. For example, the highest cost should get the biggest percent decrease in bid and then so on.
  4. Pause Keywords: If you are overpacing on budget, pause ad groups/keywords/campaigns that are underperforming to allow the better performers to gain that budget.
  5. Pause keywords: If a keyword has NOT converted in the last 90 days and is not a priority, pause them!

Bid for Audience Performance

Leveraging audience data is one sure-fire way to improve your campaign efficiency. So make sure you have retargeting lists applied to search campaigns. Let the audiences gather enough performance data to analyze reporting in the audience tab and adjust your bid modifiers. Often these remarketing audiences perform better and require an increased bid!

Be sure you apply exclusion lists to remarketing campaigns. In most cases, you do not want to show ads to people who have already taken your desired action!

Bid by Device Type

With mobile devices now making up more than 50% of Google’s volume, its critical to pay attention to the performance differences by device type. We recommend analyzing device performance and adjust bids. If 50% or more conversions come from mobile, consider separating campaigns for mobile to be able to bid at the keyword level. We have seen 40% lift by doing this for clients will high mobile conversion volume.

Bid by Location

People behave differently depending on their location so don’t let location differences pass you by. Review the performance of your campaign down to the city level and identify high performing regions. We find that mapping this data out based upon volume and CPA works much better than trying to read through a table. Make appropriate bid adjustments depending on the region that is performing best.

Also, be sure that if you are targeting specific geographies make sure to set your target to “people in my targeted location”. If you don’t you could get impressions that you don’t want!

Have the Guts to Make the Kill

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it just won’t work! So if you’ve followed all of the above and still aren’t seeing success, try these last few tips:

  • When making bid adjustments if there are keywords that have spent enough money and not converted and are not client priorities, pause them!
  • Check ad tests and pause ads that have underperformed that show a 90%+ statistical relevance
  • Monitor landing page tests and pause ads/landing pages that are not converting as well
  • Google: Analyze search vs. search partners to make sure search partners is performing as well as Google
  • Bing: Set campaign target to “Only Bing, AOL, & Yahoo Websites” 

    Expert Tip! This has to be done at the ad group level!

The end goal is that you want the money you spend on ads to count. As long as you closely monitor performance and make improvements you will succeed.