Automated bidding is a popular choice because it seems to promise fewer labor hours by letting an algorithm make your bid adjustments.
Sounds easy-peasy, right?
A set-it-and-forget-it approach that will make your life easier and shovel in all the leads and conversions you want.
It sounds too good to be true.
That’s because it is. Automated campaigns can’t run unsupervised.
Or, they can, but they won’t be successful and might waste your money if you or a PPC pro aren’t keeping a closer eye on them.
One thing we should note before going any further is that we typically do manual bidding for our clients since it allows more control, but occasionally we use automatic bidding if the client requests it or if a new feature has been introduced and we want to test it. Google is always updating and improving its automated bidding strategies, and we feel we’d be remiss if we didn’t try them.
So, we don’t ever not use automated bidding, but it isn’t a tactic we typically use or recommend.
And here’s why:
1. Algorithms are smart, but they aren’t smarter than humans
Algorithms can be narrow-minded in ways humans aren’t. Without regular maintenance, automated software will find a few targets that work really well and exclude everything else.
And that’s fine on a limited budget, but it can lead to missing out on higher-value targets that could have a higher-quality of conversions. It might look like your PPC campaign is working well, but that doesn’t mean that it’s optimized.
Consider your business’ goals first and foremost when choosing between manual and automated bidding. Maybe a campaign that is doing well is good enough for your business, or maybe you need to take more control.
2. To perform optimally, you need more data
Automated bidding probably isn’t the best place to start for a brand new account. If you don’t have at least a few months of data to draw from, the algorithm is just guessing as far as your bids are concerned.
If you really want to use automated bidding, you should have someone handle the account personally at least at first to make sure the account is set up correctly, and the bids are optimized.
Algorithms are only as smart as the data you give them, which is why the set-up process is so important.
3. You can’t selectively choose to increase bids on core terms
Just because you’re bidding on a particular keyword doesn’t mean that you’re showing up every time it’s searched. You could be showing up less than 10% of the time, and that could be because of low Ad Rank.
Often the quickest way to improve your rank is increasing your bid. But if you’re using automatic bidding, you can’t selectively choose to increase the bids on terms that are core to your company.
There are going to be terms that are stronger for your product or service, and with manual bidding, you can increase the bids on those more important keywords to maximize conversions.
With automatic bidding, you’ll continue to lose potential conversions on those keywords.
4. Bids will keep rising if you don’t set a ceiling
You could end up with a higher cost per click (CPC) with automatic bidding. You might pay $50 for a click that could have been $10 with a manual bidding strategy.
It’s like playing poker and raising your bet every single hand. You might win a few hands, but it’s going to cost you more than if you make smarter bets.
Could it pay off? Maybe.
But probably not.
A manual bidding strategy lets you monitor your CPC more closely and right down to the keyword.
5. You just aren’t fully in control
Listen, we have to be control freaks about our campaigns.
Our clients trust us to take care of their accounts and their money. We aren’t always working with big-budget clients who can afford to pay a little more on bids. We need to carefully monitor our clients’ accounts and bids, so we don’t blow their month’s budget on one keyword that isn’t even their most important one.
Needing and wanting to be in control is only one of the reasons we’re so good at our jobs. We also wouldn’t want to go back to a client and say “the algorithm is why you have to pay so much this month for only a couple of clicks.”
We prefer to tell them that our optimized manual bidding strategies are why they got so many conversions this month.
It’s not evil, just limited
Automated bidding strategies aren’t terrible, but they are limited. Just like you can’t fully automate a factory without a human to monitor the machines, you can’t set your automated bids and then walk away whistling.
Even automated bids need to be adjusted by a human periodically, so don’t think you can avoid altering your bids altogether if you choose the automatic route.
If you want to move away from automated bidding to a manual bidding approach, but you aren’t sure if you can do it yourself, then you know where to find the experienced team at Digital Strike. Drop us a line! We can help you optimize your campaigns and grow your business.