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Google Ads Manual vs Automated Bidding – Which Strategy is the Best for Your Google Ads Campaign?

Ever felt like a gladiator stepping into the arena of Google Ads, sword in hand, ready to face the age-old conundrum: Google Ads manual vs automated bidding?

It’s a battle every advertiser and marketer grapples with, trying to champion their campaigns in the ever-evolving coliseum of digital marketing. 

As we dive deep into this epic showdown, let’s unravel the mysteries and strategies that can make or break your Google Ads campaigns.

Ready to embark on this thrilling journey?

The Essence of Manual Bidding

Ah, the art of manual bidding. It’s like being Spiderman, swinging from building to building, controlling every move, every swing, and every landing. 

It’s all about control, precision, and a touch of intuition. 

Let’s dive deep into the world of manual bidding and understand why some advertisers swear by it.

What is Manual Bidding?

At its core, manual bidding is the hands-on approach to setting your keyword bids in Google Ads. 

Instead of letting an algorithm decide how much you should bid for a keyword, you, the advertiser, make that call. It’s like choosing to drive a car with a manual transmission over an automatic one. 

You decide when to shift gears, giving you more control over the vehicle’s performance.

  • Complete Control: With manual bidding, you decide exactly how much to bid for each keyword. This means if you’ve identified a high-performing keyword, you can allocate more budget to it, ensuring your ads appear more frequently for that search term.
    • Imagine having the power to decide where every single dollar of your ad spend goes. That’s the level of control manual bidding offers.
  • Immediate Changes: One of the significant advantages of manual bidding is the ability to make immediate changes. Noticed a sudden surge in a product’s demand? You can adjust your bids right away without waiting for an algorithm to catch up.
    • It’s like seeing dark clouds in the sky and immediately grabbing an umbrella before it starts to rain.
  • Personal Touch: Relying on intuition and past experiences can sometimes lead to better results than algorithms. With manual bidding, you can apply your insights and gut feelings to make bid adjustments.
    • Remember the time when you had a hunch about a product flying off the shelves during the holiday season? Manual bidding allows you to act on those hunches.

The Flip Side of Manual Bidding

But, like all things, manual bidding strategy isn’t without its challenges.

  • Time-Intensive: Manual bidding requires constant monitoring and adjustments. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. You need to be on your toes, ready to make changes as the market evolves.
    • Think of it as gardening. You can’t just plant a seed and expect it to grow. You need to water it, remove the weeds, and ensure it gets enough sunlight.
  • Scaling Issues: As your campaign grows, managing bids for hundreds or thousands of keywords can become a Herculean task. It’s challenging to keep track of every keyword’s performance and make timely adjustments.
    • It’s like trying to juggle more and more balls as they keep getting added. At some point, it becomes overwhelming.
  • Human Error: We’re all human, and mistakes can happen. A minor oversight in manual bidding can lead to significant budget drains or missed opportunities.
    • Ever forgotten to set an alarm and overslept? That’s the kind of impact a small mistake in manual bidding can have on your campaign.

The Power of Automated Bidding

Imagine setting sail on a vast ocean, but instead of manually navigating through treacherous waters, you have an advanced autopilot system guiding your ship. 

That’s the essence of automated bidding in the vast sea of Google Ads. 

It’s about leveraging the power of technology, data, and algorithms to steer your campaigns toward success. 

Let’s embark on this journey to understand the might of Google Ads automated bidding.

Understanding Automated Bidding

Automated bidding isn’t just a fancy buzzword; it’s a revolution in how we approach Google Ads. It’s about entrusting Google’s advanced algorithms to adjust your bids in real-time, ensuring you get the most bang for your buck.

  • Efficiency: Automated bidding is a boon for large PPC accounts drowning in data. Instead of manually sifting through mountains of information, Google’s algorithms do the heavy lifting, analyzing data points and making bid adjustments on the fly.
    • Imagine a supercomputer analyzing millions of data points in seconds and making decisions. That’s the power of automated bidding.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: The heart of automated bidding lies in its ability to use historical data to predict future performance. It’s like having a crystal ball that uses past trends to forecast future outcomes.
    • Remember that time you wished you could predict a stock market trend? Automated bidding is somewhat like that, but for your ads.
  • Adaptability: One of the standout features of automated bidding is its ability to adjust bids in real-time based on a multitude of factors, from the device being used to the time of day.
    • Think of it as a chameleon, constantly adapting to its environment to ensure survival and success.

The Magic Behind Automated Bidding

Behind the scenes, automated bidding in Google Ads is a symphony of technology, data, and algorithms working in harmony.

  • Smart Bidding: This is Google’s machine learning-aided bidding strategy. It uses machine learning to optimize for conversions or conversion value in every auction—a feature known as “auction-time bidding.”
    • It’s like having Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S. optimizing your bids. Super smart and always on point.
  • Bid Strategies: Depending on your campaign goals, you can choose from various automated bid strategies. Whether you aim to maximize clicks, target a specific position on the page, or achieve a target return on ad spend (ROAS), there’s a strategy tailored for you.
    • It’s akin to having different gears for different terrains when biking.
  • Real-time Adjustments: Automated bidding considers a plethora of real-time signals like device, location, time of day, and more. So, if a potential lead is browsing on a mobile device during their lunch break, automated bidding will adjust your bid to increase the chances of your ad being displayed.
    • Imagine a DJ adjusting the music based on the crowd’s vibe. That’s automated bidding for you.

Automated bidding is like having a co-pilot for your Google Ads journey. It’s about combining the power of technology with the insights of data to make informed decisions.

Analyzing Business Goals: Which Bidding Strategy Aligns?

Imagine you’re at a crossroads. 

To your left is the path of manual bidding, where you hold the reins and control every twist and turn. 

To your right, the road of automated bidding stretches out, promising the allure of technology-driven decisions. 

But which path aligns with your business goals? Let’s embark on a journey of introspection and strategy to find out.

Understanding Your Business Goals

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of bidding strategies, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve with your Google Ads campaigns.

  • Brand Awareness: If your primary goal is to get your brand name out there and be seen by as many eyes as possible, you might prioritize impressions.
    • Think of it as setting up a billboard on a busy highway. You might not get immediate sales, but thousands will see your brand every day.
  • Lead Generation: Are you looking to gather potential customer details? Then you’d be focusing on getting as many clicks as possible to your landing page or sign-up form.
    • It’s like fishing. The more lines you have in the water, the better your chances of catching a fish.
  • Sales & Conversions: If your endgame is to drive sales, then you’d be closely monitoring conversion rates and ensuring your ads lead to purchase-ready landing pages.
    • Imagine a funnel where potential customers enter at the top, and only the ones ready to buy come out at the bottom.
Sales funnel

Mapping Goals to Bidding Strategies

Once you’ve identified your primary business goals, it’s time to align them with the appropriate bidding strategy.

  • Maximize Clicks: Best suited for those looking to drive traffic to their website. This automated strategy will set your bids to get as many clicks as possible within your budget.
    • It’s like setting a trap in a place teeming with wildlife. You’re bound to catch something!
  • Target Impression Share: If brand visibility is your game, this strategy will help your ads appear at the top of the search results or anywhere on the Google search results page.
    • Imagine a spotlight on a stage. Your brand is the star, and you want it to be in the limelight as much as possible.
  • Maximize Conversions: For those with sales on their mind, this strategy uses advanced machine learning to get you the most conversions for your budget.
    • Think of it as a seasoned salesperson who knows exactly when and how to pitch to close the deal.
  • Manual CPC Bidding: If you’re the hands-on type and have a clear understanding of how much a click is worth to you, this strategy lets you set bids for individual keywords.
    • It’s like going to an auction with a clear budget in mind. You know exactly how high you’re willing to go.

Choosing the right bidding strategy is like picking the right tool for the job. It all boils down to your business goals and how hands-on you want to be with your campaigns.

Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing the Right Bidding Strategy

Picture this: You’re at a grand buffet, and there’s a smorgasbord of delicious dishes laid out before you. 

Each dish represents a different bidding strategy, and you’re left wondering which one will tantalize your taste buds the most. 

Just like choosing the right dish, selecting the perfect bidding strategy for your Google Ads campaign can be a daunting task. 

But fret not! We’ve got a step-by-step guide to help you make an informed decision.

1. Understand Your Campaign Goals

Before diving into the bidding pool, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve.

  • Traffic Generation: If you’re looking to drive a ton of traffic to your website, you might lean towards strategies that maximize clicks.
    • Think of it as casting a wide net to catch as many fish as possible.
  • Brand Visibility: If your goal is to ensure your brand appears at the top of search results, impression-based strategies might be your best bet.
    • Imagine setting up a neon sign in the busiest part of town.
  • Sales & Conversions: If your endgame is to drive sales or actions on your site, conversion-focused strategies should be your go-to.
    • It’s like setting up a shop in a bustling marketplace where everyone’s ready to buy.

2. Evaluate Your Risk Appetite

Every bidding strategy comes with its own set of risks and rewards.

  • Manual Bidding: This gives you complete control, allowing you to set bid limits and adjust bids as you see fit. It’s best for those who have the time and expertise to monitor and tweak their campaigns regularly.
    • It’s like driving a car with a manual transmission. You have total control, but it requires more attention.
  • Automated Bidding: Google’s algorithms take the wheel, making real-time adjustments based on a myriad of factors. While it can lead to higher bid amounts in some cases, it’s designed to get you the best results for your budget.
    • Imagine cruising on a highway with an advanced autopilot system.

3. Test and Iterate

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket right away. Start by allocating a portion of your budget to test different strategies.

  • A/B Testing: This involves running two similar campaigns with different bidding strategies to see which one performs better.
    • It’s like a taste test between two delicious dishes to see which one delights your palate more.
    • Dive deeper into A/B testing with this comprehensive guide.
  • Monitor Performance: Use tools like the PPC budget allocation tracker to keep an eye on how your campaigns are performing and adjust accordingly.

4. Scale and Optimize

Once you’ve identified a winning strategy, it’s time to scale.

  • Increase Budget: If you’re seeing a good ROI, consider increasing your ad spend to maximize results.
    • Think of it as adding more fuel to a roaring fire.
  • Optimize for Better Performance: Dive into the nitty-gritty of your campaigns to fine-tune them. Whether it’s tweaking ad copy or refining your target audience, there’s always room for improvement.
    • It’s like pruning a plant to ensure it grows healthy and strong.
    • For more insights on scaling, check out this guide on scaling Google Ads.

In conclusion, choosing the right bidding strategy is a blend of understanding your goals, evaluating your risk appetite, testing, iterating, and scaling. 

It’s a journey, not a destination. 

So, equip yourself with the right knowledge, be ready to adapt, and watch your campaigns soar to new heights!

The final verdict: Automated or Manual bidding?

So what is the final verdict? Manual or automated bidding – which is better?

Well, it depends, both bidding options have their advantages, but the real power lies in understanding which tool aligns with your campaigns.

While manual bidding gives you more flexibility it does require more of your time and effort. Using automated bidding strategies on the other hand takes out all the guesswork and doesn’t require much of your effort.

However, you should monitor your campaigns regularly no matter which one you choose.

If you want to continue your learning journey, we recommend this comprehensive guide on competitive keyword analysis in Google Ads.

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder is a Google Ads and SaaS marketing consultant. He has been managing $200k-$300k monthly ad spend and has worked with 200+ SaaS companies. The thing that makes him unique is his data-led approach and his focus on SaaS businesses.