Choosing the right Google Ads bidding type and implementing a solid strategy for adjusting bids is critical to driving your ad costs down.
Doing the opposite will make you pay more than your fair share.
If you aren’t deeply familiar with the different options you have, blindly choosing one type of bidding is like placing your entire paycheck on red.
In this post, we’ll walk you through all the different types of Google Ads bidding and how you can craft the best bidding strategy from them.
When launching a new campaign on Google Ads, Google asks what type of bidding you want to use:
Confused? Not sure what to choose? You’re not alone.
Most people opt for automated because who the heck wants to adjust bids all the time if you’re running multiple campaigns.
But in Google Ads, there are multiple bidding you can choose between and even more ways you can put them to use for maximum results.
Let’s dig deeper.
Every Type of Bidding Option on Google Ads Explained
On Google Ads, there are currently ten different types of bidding that you can use for a variety of goals.
Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)
Target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)
Enhanced Cost Per Click (ECPC)
CPM Bidding (Cost Per Thousand Impressions)
vCPM Bidding (Cost Per Viewable Thousand Impressions)
Let’s give each a closer look.
Target CPA bidding is a bidding strategy you can use if you want to optimize conversions. If driving conversions are your primary goal for the campaign, selecting Target CPA bidding will focus on trying to convert users at a specific acquisition cost.
With this method, Google Ads will automatically set your bids on each campaign based on your CPA. While some conversions may cost more, others may cost less to even out and align with your acquisition costs.
Target CPA bidding can be complicated if you don’t know what your acquisition costs are.
Acquisition is simply the amount of money you can afford to spend on acquiring one customer.
For example, if you sell a product for $50, you don’t want to set your target CPA at $50. That would be breaking even when the goal is to profit.
When selecting this bidding method, you can enter your target CPA, and you’re good to go!
Google Ads Bidding, Option #2:
Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
Target Return on Ad Spend is a bidding strategy that throws most for a loop.
Because it requires some math. Yes, math, the dreaded, awful subject that most marketers run from.
Unfortunately, math is important on this one.
Target ROAS is the bidding strategy where Google Ads will set your bids to maximize conversion value based on the return you want from your ad spend. This number is percentage based.
Let me give you a basic example:
On your next Google Ads campaign, you want to generate $10 for every $2 spent. To do the math, you follow this formula:
Sales ÷ ad spend x 100% = Target ROAS
Doing the math for my example above, here is what the Target ROAS would look like:
$10 in sales from campaign ÷ $2 ad spend (clicks) x 100% = 500% target ROAS
Easy enough, right?
Here is what the Target ROAS bidding strategy looks like when creating a new campaign:
If you still aren’t sure what to set as your percentage, you can navigate to a previous campaign on Google Ads and modify your columns.
Add the following metric to your columns:
Use the number from your top performing campaigns as your new Target ROAS.
Google Ads Bidding, Option #3:
Maximize Conversions is one of the simplest bidding strategies that Google Ads offers.
Using the maximum daily budget that you set, Google will automatically run your bidding for you to get you the most conversions for your money.
For example, if your daily budget is $50, Google will spend it wisely to find the most conversions.
If a single conversion costs $50, Google won’t bid on it for you.
Before selecting this bidding method, be sure to check that you set your daily budget amount at a reasonable level that you are willing to spend.
At the end of a campaign, check your return on investment to see if maximizing conversions lead to profitable sales.
Using this strategy, you don’t have to enter any details upon setup (aside from your daily budget).
Google Ads Bidding, Option #4:
Enhanced Cost Per Click (ECPC)
Enhanced CPC bidding is one of my favorite strategies on Google Ads.
How does it work?
In a few words, using Smart Bidding, Google has the right to increase or decrease your bid amount based on the likelihood of driving the sale. Bids will try to be averaged out at your max cost per click settings.
If a search is too competitive and CPCs are outrageously high, Google can lower your bid to cost less due to decreased chances of converting.
If it’s an easy steal by increasing bids, Google will make the call.
This type of bidding is restricted to the Search and Display networks.
Google Ads Bidding, Option #5:
Maximize Clicks is an automatic bidding strategy based on your maximum daily budget.
Google Ads will attempt to drive the most clicks possible with your daily budget.
Google Ads Bidding, Option #6:
Manual CPC Bidding
Manual CPC Bidding gives you more control over your bidding strategy. But, more control means more time spent monitoring costs and adjusting on your own.
If you aren’t well versed in Google Ads yet, this strategy isn’t your best bet.
Manual CPC is where you set bids for different ad groups or placements on your own. If specific campaigns are more profitable than others, you can quickly adjust budgets to add money or remove from other campaigns.
You can also combine Manual CPC bidding with ECPC bidding:
Doing this, will help you manually control budgets but allow Google to adjust bids based on the likelihood of converting.
Google Ads Bidding, Option #7:
Target Search Page Location
TSPL (Target Search Page Location) bidding is the strategy of letting Google automatically adjust your bids to always show your ads either:
- On the first page results of Google
- At the top of the first page of Google (1-4)
While Google has the disclaimer that this strategy “doesn’t guarantee placement,” you won’t have issues if your quality scores are solid.
Google Ads Bidding, Option #8:
Target Outranking Share
Target Outranking Share is another automated bidding tactic that’s perfect for competitor targeting on Google Ads.
You can choose a specific website or competitor that you want to outrank.
When your ads and your competitor’s ads are both displaying, Google will increase your bids to outrank their ads.
Google also will show your ads when your competitor isn’t showing up to give you better brand awareness.
Here are your options when selecting this bid strategy:
Let’s break it down.
First, select the domain name you want to outrank. Focus on your biggest competitor, those that you notice more often on Google Ad results.
Target to outrank is the percentage of times you want to bid to rank on top of them.
For instance, setting it at 90% would mean that you want to outrank them 9 out of 10 auctions.
Keep in mind: the higher your percentage settings, the more you likely will pay per click due to jacking up bid costs.
Google Ads Bidding Option #9:
Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM)
Cost per Thousand Impressions, otherwise known as CPM, is bidding solely based on impressions.
This option is reserved for the Display Network and YouTube campaigns like TrueView and is not for use on the Search Network (for obvious reasons).
Google Ads Bidding Option #10:
Cost Per Thousand Viewable Impressions (vCPM)
vCPM bidding is a tactic of manual bidding best reserved for brand awareness campaigns.
Again, like CPM bidding, it is reserved for the Display Network.
This bidding type is setting your maximum costs on a viewable 1,000 impressions.
Next step: Determine Your Google Ads Campaign Goals
Now that you know the ins and outs of each bidding type on Google Ads, where the heck do you start?
Which bidding option is best for you? It all depends on your campaign goals.
Every campaign you choose should carefully select a bidding strategy based on desired outcomes.
For instance, if you want to drive sales on the Display Network, picking the Cost Per Thousand Viewable Impressions tactic isn’t your best bet.
That’s meant to secure views rather than sales on your site.
Let’s break down a few common goals on Google Ads and the top bidding tactics you can use for each.
If your goal on a specific Google Ads campaign is conversions, or driving traffic to your website or store with the sole purpose of turning them into a sale, consider the following bid types:
- Maximize Conversions
- Target CPA
- Target ROAS
- Target Outranking Share (steal competitors’ sales!)
Goal: Website traffic.
If you want to concentrate on driving more traffic to your site with goals other than merely converting, here are a few great bid types to choose from.
- Maximize Clicks
- Target Search Page Location
- Manual CPC Bidding
Goal: Brand awareness.
While brand awareness alone is a less common goal on the search network, there are a few great bidding tactics to utilize for maximum branding.
- Target Search Page Location
- Target Outranking Share
- CPM and vCPM for YouTube and Display Networks
To make sure you’re on the right path, follow these 4 Best Practices:
- Always be sure to select a bidding tactic based on your campaign goals instead of flying blind and selecting the default option.
- When push comes to shove, test out different bidding strategies for a few weeks and see how performance changes.
- Measure your key performance indicators like conversions, conversion rate, cost per conversion, and more.
- Stick with the one with better results!
And now let’s put everything in practice!
3 Easy Google Ads Bidding Strategies to Drive More Sales
Since bidding can get complicated fast, here are a few simple bidding tactics that you can leverage for better, cheaper sales (and less time pounding your head on the desk).
And you can start right now (well… after you’re done reading this, of course!)
Google Ads Bidding, Strategy #1:
Set Bidding Automation Rules to Make Your Life Easy
Don’t you wish that you could set and forget bids? We all do.
Monitoring bids is a crucial step in maximizing conversions for cheap, but being on Google Ads all day isn’t realistic.
Thankfully, Google Ads packs some powerful automation tools. Using Rules on Google Ads, you can set up notifications, pause campaigns, and adjust bids without ever touching them yourself.
For instance, do you want to be notified when CPCs go sky high? You can do that.
How about when CPAs are low, and you want to skyrocket bids? You can do that too.
Use Rules to automate your bidding even further.
Google Ads Bidding, Strategy #2:
When starting a new campaign on Google Ads, what’s your first move for bidding?
Do you play it safe? Bid lower? Average?
Those can work, but they often take longer for you to drive results and establish a high-quality score.
Instead, try jump-start bidding.
This type of bidding is merely flipping the script and going aggressive.
Bid higher than the current top position bid for a few weeks.
While it will be more expensive at first, you will generate tons of clicks and a high CTR, helping to improve quality scores.
From there, decrease your bids to match the second position. You should notice that your costs drop dramatically yet position and performance metrics still thrive.
If you aren’t sure what the top position is bidding for a given keyword, use the Keyword Tool on Google to analyze top page bids:
Google Ads Bidding, Strategy #3:
Adjust Bids by Demographic Success
Each campaign you run will target multiple demographics and searchers.
But apparently, your content won’t appeal to everyone.
Some demographics and age groups are much more likely to buy from you, especially if you sell eCommerce products with Google Ads.
Thankfully, Google lets you customize bidding based on demographics.
For instance, let’s say you notice that you have a demographic with huge CTRs and performance:
You can select that demographic and adjust their bids manually:
If they are performing well, increase their bids for more performance and allocation of your budget toward this group.
Spend your money where it’s already performing at its best.
When launching a new campaign on Google Ads, choosing a bidding format is complex.
There are tons of options to pick from, and if you don’t have experience with each, the decision could make or break your campaign.
Before selecting a bidding option, assess your goals. Do you want better brand awareness? Website traffic? Direct sales?
Each of these will generate different bidding strategies for best results.
Next time you run a Google Ads campaign you can feel confident in your bidding abilities.