Google Display campaigns are compatible with a variety of manual and automated bidding strategies that enable advertisers to customize campaigns based on their goals. Bidding strategies can be selected to prioritize volume or efficiency metrics, in addition to meeting the needs of advertisers for more hands-on or hands-off account management.

Bidding Types for Google Display Campaigns

There are several different bidding types available on the GDN:

  • Manual CPC
  • Enhanced CPC
  • Viewable CPM
  • Target CPA
  • Target ROAS
  • Maximize Clicks
  • Maximize Conversions

When using Manual CPC, Enhanced CPC or Viewable CPM bidding, you can assign bid adjustments for increased control over when and where your ad appears. These adjustments can be set for device, time of day, day of week, and location. Additionally, adjustments can be used to modify bids for specific targeting methods like keywords, audiences, demographics, topics, or placements.

Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Clicks and Maximize Conversions are fully automated bidding strategies that use algorithms and machine learning to assign unique bids for every ad auction based on a wide range of contextual signals. The most common signals Google takes into consideration are:

  • Demographics
  • Device
  • Geographic location
  • Browsing history
  • Account performance
  • Audience membership
  • User/site history

Within each approach to bidding, whether manual or automated, there are additional features specific to each type. Advertisers should consider the following historical campaign performance and unique business goals when deciding on a bidding strategy.

Manual & Enhanced CPC (eCPC)

These bidding strategies give the most control to the advertiser, with manual bids set across targeting within campaigns and ad groups. Both Manual CPC & eCPC bidding let advertisers control maximum CPC bids, but eCPC has a semi-automated component geared toward capturing more conversions. With eCPC, Google will automatically adjust manual bids for clicks that seem more or less likely to lead to a conversion, with the constraint of a manually-set maximum CPC. This is a good option for situations where you plan to be really hands-on and are looking for maximum control over bids and budget allocation within campaigns. In situations where you’ve found specific placements to drive consistent sales or quality leads, this is a great way to maximize those opportunities.

Viewable CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions)

With viewable CPM, you bid on 1,000 viewable impressions, but only pay for impressions that are measured as viewable. An ad is counted as “viewable” when 50 percent of your ad shows on screen for 1 second or longer. Viewable CPM bids are optimized to favor ad slots that are more likely to become viewable, facilitating higher value for each impression. This is a good approach for situations where you’re more concerned with maximizing visibility and brand awareness than driving immediate site traffic. If you have an educated hunch that your ideal customer profile frequents a particular site in the Google Display Network, or that associating your brand with specific content is a good long-term proposition, then this is a great bidding strategy. You might also test it against the manual bidding scenarios above to see which one leads to the maximal outcome.

Target CPA

Target CPA enables advertisers to maximize conversion volume within a target CPA threshold by utilizing flexible bids. By using insights from historical campaign performance in addition to contextual signals present in each auction, tCPA bidding automatically optimizes bids. Some conversions may cost more or less than the set targets, but overall Google will aim to keep cost per conversion equal to the set tCPA. As a result, it’s recommended to have at least 30 conversions in the last 30 days in order to prove enough data for the algorithm to work off. This strategy is a good approach for advertisers hoping to maintain certain CPA targets without losing conversion volume. If you’ve found some success with Google’s core audience targeting using a broader placement strategy, testing this bidding method can lead to getting your ads in front of a conversion-ready audience more often for your budget.

If lead quality is a concern, make sure to keep an eye on your back-end data; Target CPA can at times bring in “cheaper” leads that fit your target front-end CPA, but are actually poor quality leads.

Target ROAS

Target ROAS (tROAS) leverages the same historical insights and real-time auction signals as tCPA bidding, but works off of a ROAS target. As a result, campaigns optimize toward maximizing the volume of conversions most likely to generate higher revenue. Campaigns must have a minimum of 20 conversions in the past 45 days to be eligible, but it is recommended to have at least 50 conversions in the last 30 days for optimal performance. This strategy is a good approach for advertisers with high conversion volume hoping to optimize investment towards top revenue-driving conversions.

Maximize Clicks

Maximize Clicks is a bidding strategy that automatically manages bids to maximize clicks within a set daily budget. Advertisers can increase control over this bidding strategy by setting a maximum CPC bid limit. This strategy is a good approach for advertisers looking to increase traffic to their site without CPA or ROAS limitations. Worried about traffic quality? By restricting this bid type to higher quality placements and audiences, you can control the negative visit quality incentives associated with maximizing for just click-throughs on ads.

Maximize Conversions

Similar to maximize clicks, maximize conversions is geared toward maximizing volume within a set daily budget without limitations of CPA or ROAS thresholds. However, the maximize conversions strategy is geared toward generating clicks most likely to complete a desired conversion action. This approach enables advertisers with low conversion volume to take advantage of the auction-time bidding capabilities available with automated bidding. Additionally, this strategy can be a good approach for campaigns limited by budget.

Both maximize clicks and maximize conversions bidding strategies can help advertisers struggling to scale volume within a campaign as both strategies will scale volume to consistently reach their budget.

In Conclusion…

Bidding strategy choices often vary between advertisers across different accounts, but the real power is in varying your choices between campaigns within one account. Consider the audience targeting of each campaign and the different value to be gained. For example, when getting in front of new audiences to drive growth, achieving maximum visibility through impressions and clicks can be valued over achieving a target CPA or ROAS. When focused on getting in front of past site visitors, goals may be lower funnel, aiming to re-engage audiences and drive them back to the site to convert.

If you’re looking to dive deeper into utilizing the best bidding strategies for your campaigns, our team is here to help.