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Manual Bidding vs Maximize Conversions

We’re back with another comparison post, this time Manual Bidding vs Maximize Conversions.

Each bidding strategy offers distinct advantages and comes with its own set of challenges.

The bidding strategy you choose directly impacts the performance of your Google Ads campaigns.

It affects how you manage your budget, how you compete for ad placement, and how well you can achieve your advertising objectives.

Manual Bidding gives advertisers direct control over their bids, allowing for precise budget management and potentially more effective use of advertising spend based on detailed campaign analysis.

On the other hand, Maximize Conversions utilizes Google’s algorithms to automatically place bids.

Let’s get right into it!

What is Manual Bidding in Google Ads?

Manual Bidding is a strategy in Google Ads where the advertiser sets their bid amounts for clicks, impressions, or conversions based on their understanding of the value those actions provide to their business. This method grants the advertiser complete control over how much they are willing to spend on specific keywords, ad placements, or audience targeting.

It is a hands-on approach that requires active management and a good understanding of the ad market dynamics and the advertiser’s own campaign goals.

How Manual Bidding Works in Google Ads

In Manual Bidding, advertisers specify the maximum amount they are willing to pay for a click on their ad (CPC), per thousand impressions (CPM), or per action (CPA).

This control allows advertisers to adjust their bids based on performance metrics, such as conversion rates or the value of a particular keyword in driving sales.

Advertisers can set different bids for different ads or campaigns, depending on their specific objectives and the competitive landscape of the keywords they are targeting.

Advantages of Manual Bidding

The primary benefit of Manual Bidding is the level of control it provides. Advertisers can adjust bids at any time, allowing them to respond quickly to changes in the market or their business. This strategy is ideal for those who have a clear understanding of their campaign metrics and how different bidding amounts affect their ad performance. It is particularly useful in campaigns where ad spend must be carefully managed or where ROI is critically important.

Disadvantages of Manual Bidding

The main drawback of Manual Bidding is the time and effort required to manage it effectively. It demands continuous monitoring and adjustment to stay competitive.

Additionally, it can be challenging for those without extensive experience in PPC management or those who lack the resources to analyze performance data continuously.

There is also a risk of making costly mistakes if bids are not set or adjusted appropriately.

What is Maximize Conversions in Google Ads?

Maximize Conversions is an automated bidding strategy in Google Ads that aims to get the most conversions possible within your set budget.

It uses Google’s machine learning technology to optimize bids in real-time, adjusting how much you pay for each click based on the likelihood of that click leading to a conversion.

This strategy is designed for advertisers who prioritize conversion actions, such as purchases or sign-ups, over other metrics like click-through rates or cost per click.

How Maximize Conversions Works in Google Ads

When you choose the Maximize Conversions strategy, Google’s algorithm automatically sets bids for each auction, with the goal of converting as many leads as possible.

The algorithm considers various factors, including the user’s device, location, time of day, and the content of the website where the ad will appear, to predict the chances of a conversion from each ad impression.

This process eliminates the need for manual bid adjustments, simplifying campaign management significantly.

Advantages of Maximize Conversions

The most significant advantage of Maximize Conversions is its efficiency in managing bids to achieve high conversion rates.

It reduces the workload on advertisers by automating the bidding process and optimizes spending for the best possible outcome in terms of conversions.

This makes it an excellent option for businesses focused on results but less inclined to manage every detail of their ad campaigns.

Disadvantages of Maximize Conversions

While automation simplifies campaign management, it also reduces the control advertisers have over individual bids.

This can be problematic in scenarios where cost control is as important as conversion outcomes.

Additionally, because it focuses solely on maximizing conversions, it might sometimes result in higher costs per conversion, especially in highly competitive markets where the cost of clicks can escalate rapidly.

Comparing Manual Bidding and Maximize Conversions

Manual Bidding offers precise control at the expense of greater management effort, while Maximize Conversions emphasizes ease and outcome effectiveness, potentially at higher costs.

When to Use Manual Bidding

Manual Bidding is most effective in scenarios where advertisers require stringent control over their budgets and bid adjustments.

This strategy is particularly advantageous for campaigns where detailed adjustments are necessary to respond to rapidly changing market conditions or for niche markets where specific knowledge of audience behavior dictates bid strategy.

It is also suitable for campaigns with a limited budget, where every cent spent needs to be accounted for strategically to achieve the best possible return on investment.

Additionally, Manual Bidding is preferable for experienced advertisers who have a deep understanding of the platform and its nuances.

These advertisers can make informed decisions based on comprehensive performance data from their campaigns, making adjustments that align precisely with their strategic goals.

When to Use Maximize Conversions

Maximize Conversions is ideally suited for campaigns where the primary goal is maximizing conversion volume, and the budget is flexible enough to accommodate potentially higher costs per conversion.

This strategy is particularly beneficial for businesses that might not have the expertise or resources to manage and adjust bids constantly but still want to achieve significant conversion outcomes.

It is also well-suited for use in competitive markets where the algorithms can efficiently manage bids in real-time to capitalize on conversion opportunities that manual management might miss.

Businesses looking to scale up operations or push a new product can benefit from this approach, as it reduces the complexity of managing large-scale campaigns.

Practical Considerations

Choosing between Manual Bidding and Maximize Conversions involves understanding both the operational requirements of your campaign and the internal capabilities of your organization.

Manual Bidding, while offering granularity and control, demands continuous oversight and a proactive management approach.

On the other hand, Maximize Conversions allows for more hands-off management but may lead to less predictability in spending and potentially higher acquisition costs.

In terms of campaign set-up and ongoing management, Manual Bidding requires regular review and adjustments based on performance metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and cost per acquisition.

Conversely, Maximize Conversions requires a well-defined conversion tracking setup and relies on the algorithm’s ability to interpret data effectively to optimize for the best results.

The choice between Manual Bidding and Maximize Conversions depends on specific campaign goals, budget considerations, market conditions, and internal capabilities.

Manual Bidding offers more control and may be suited to smaller, more targeted campaigns or those where budget control is critical. Maximize Conversions, however, offers a practical solution for advertisers who prioritize broad-reaching results over cost considerations and prefer a more automated approach to campaign management.

Each strategy has its merits and can be highly effective in the right context, making understanding their differences crucial for making informed advertising decisions.

Making the Right Choice

The choice between Manual Bidding and Maximize Conversions should align with your business objectives, available resources, and comfort with digital advertising technologies.

Both strategies have their merits and can lead to successful outcomes when applied correctly.

Being flexible and responsive to the results from your advertising efforts will guide you to refine your approach continually, ensuring that your advertising spend is as effective as possible.

Evaluating Campaign Goals

When choosing between Manual Bidding and Maximize Conversions, the primary consideration should always be your campaign goals.

If your objective is to drive traffic to a website or engage a specific audience with targeted messages, Manual Bidding might provide the control necessary to adjust bids for specific segments or keywords.

Conversely, if your campaign goal is strictly to increase conversions—whether they’re sales, sign-ups, or another valuable action—Maximize Conversions can effectively use your budget to pursue this outcome without constant oversight.

Consideration of Available Time for Campaign Management

The amount of time and resources you can dedicate to campaign management is another crucial factor.

Manual Bidding requires a significant investment in time, both in initial setup and ongoing adjustments, to monitor the campaign’s performance and make data-driven decisions.

If your organization has a dedicated marketing team with the expertise to handle these demands, Manual Bidding might be the more suitable option.

However, if you’re operating with a lean team or your marketing resources are stretched thin, Maximize Conversions offers a more manageable solution by automating much of the bid management process.

Comfort with Automation and AI

Your comfort level with relying on automated systems also plays a critical role in this decision.

Maximize Conversions relies heavily on Google’s AI to make real-time bidding decisions.

This requires a certain level of trust in the algorithm’s ability to interpret complex data and make cost-effective decisions that align with your goals.

If you prefer having direct control over each decision, Manual Bidding might align better with your operational style.

Switching Strategies or Testing New Approaches

It’s often beneficial to test both strategies to see which performs better under specific conditions related to your market and objectives.

Google Ads allows for flexibility to switch strategies or run experiments comparing different bidding strategies on similar campaigns.

This can provide actionable insights and help determine which strategy optimizes performance towards your specific goals.

Tips for Implementation

When implementing your chosen strategy, consider the following tips:

  • For Manual Bidding: Regularly review performance data and adjust bids accordingly. Set clear metrics for success and ensure you have the tools and skills necessary to analyze data effectively.
  • For Maximize Conversions: Ensure that your conversion tracking is accurately set up. Give the algorithm enough data to learn from by allowing the campaign to run for a sufficient period without interference.


Manual Bidding offers advertisers direct control over their bids, allowing for nuanced management of campaigns according to specific insights and market conditions.

This strategy demands a hands-on approach and is suitable for those with the time and expertise to closely monitor and adjust bids.

On the other hand, Maximize Conversions utilizes advanced algorithms to automate the bidding process, aiming to secure the maximum number of conversions possible within a specified budget.

This approach is ideal for advertisers prioritizing efficiency and campaign scale over granular control of spending.

Choosing the right bidding strategy in Google Ads is not merely about preference but about aligning your approach with specific campaign goals, resource availability, and desired level of involvement in bid management.

So now you know how maximize conversions compares to manual bidding. But how about against maximize conversion value? Check out our guide and find out!

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.