The Beginners Guide to Automated Bidding Strategies

Automating bidding strategies saves a ton of time and improves efficiencies when it’s done correctly. We’re able to delegate tactical work to robots while we focus more on strategy, ad creative, and analytics. Sounds fantastic right?

The problem is figuring out how to automate your bidding strategies so you consistently improve your performance. A lot of marketers and business owners like to automate for the sake of automating, which can lead to lackluster performance and even lost revenue.

This guide will give you practical guidance on how to automate your bidding strategies (in any platform) to save time while improving performance.

Prerequisites for Automating Your Bids

Pretty much every ad platform will try to motivate you to automate your bids. After all, why wouldn’t you want to bid specifically for leads or increase your ROAS. 

Before you press that button, there are a few things you should consider before you even get started with automated bidding.

Do you have enough data? If you get anything out of this guide, it should be the following….Automation is only as good as the underlying data you provide that automation with. The actual bid strategies that are in Google, Facebook, and so forth are quite sophisticated because they have been developed over several years amongst thousands of accounts. The only problem is that these algorithms need data to meaningfully predict whom to bid for to get you what you’re looking for. Without enough data, these algorithms are playing a guessing game which might work out or could be extremely costly. Furthermore, these same algorithms need to figure out how to use your data for your specific account to find customers for your products which can be a lot of trial and error.

Automation without data is like a chef without a recipe and ingredients. They may know how to cook, but without the right recipe and ingredients you might end up with gruel.

So you might be wondering….what is the right amount of data?

The answer varies a lot depending upon what bidding strategy you’re using. Here are some benchmarks we have used over the years. Before you read further, you should also consider what types of bidding strategies you could use.

  • Reach/Impressions/Clicks/Ad Engagement – you should be fine to start with any manual or automated bidding strategies that focus on getting your campaigns more impressions or clicks. 
  • Conversions/CPA – the conversion volume varies depending upon the platform and timeline. Here are a few good guidelines we use after working on hundreds of different ad accounts:
    • Have at least 15 conversions over a 30 day period. This is the bare minimum.
    • Ideally have 50 conversions. Facebook/Instagram have wanted you to generate at least 50 conversions over a 7 day period while Google/Bing tend to look at a 30 day period.
    • These first two rules can vary depending upon your industry and how robust automated bidding strategies become in the future. With more historical data we might not need as much account data. For now, it’s highly recommended you get this data first by using manual bidding or automated bidding for impressions or clicks.
    • The quality of your data matters, especially if you’re not able to see certain data points in your account. Unless you’re in ecommerce, some leads are better than others. Some leads turn into revenue while others may end being tire kickers.
    • You should try to add more conversion data into your account from your CRM to inform your bidding strategies. Otherwise you might be bidding for leads that might turn into sales or might just be tire kickers.
  • Revenue/ROAS – The benefit of bidding for revenue is that you’re directly impacting your bottom line and you focus on a specific return. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of this bidding strategy.
    • Start by bidding to maximize revenue/conversion value. After you ideally get 50 conversions or at least 2-4 weeks of data, you should be able to see what your ROAS average is. After that you could bid for ROAS to gradually improve your return.
    • What you want out of your campaign can be very different from what you’re getting. Everyone wants to spend a dollar and make a million dollars. If you set a goal that your campaign can’t achieve, you will either lose exposure because your ROAS is too high or spend too much without getting a meaningful return. 
  • Top of Page Bidding – this is a very niche strategy if you want to either be at the top of the page in the search results. Automated bidding after the first 30 days of running your campaign will allow you to bid against the competition to show above them or generally show in the top position on the page. This can be great for exposure or if you have a campaign that gets a great return that could benefit from more exposure. The higher you bid, the more costly it will be. So you should know what your desired return is before implementing this automated bidding strategy.

Getting Started with Automated Bidding Strategies

Here are the basic steps to getting started with automated bidding with a new campaign:

  1. Make sure your conversion tracking is set up correctly for the conversion event you want to optimize for. Otherwise your campaign won’t get any conversions or you will be optimizing for an inaccurate number of conversions which can lead to poor results.
  1. Create your campaign and optimize for impressions or clicks. You can use automated bidding, though we would recommend using manual bidding in Google/Bing to control your costs. Facebook/Instagram/Tik Tok and other social media platforms tend to perform very well with automated bidding for impressions or traffic.
  1. Let your campaign run for at least 2-4 weeks to start with. You could automate your bidding strategy from here by either changing your campaign’s settings or creating a new duplicate version of your campaign.Before you automate your bids, you should optimize your campaign to improve your cost efficiencies. If you need support with this, please feel free to schedule a consulting session with us. Otherwise, here are some general tips to start with:
    1. Adjust your bids relative to your CPA/ROAS to increase for top performers and decrease for lackluster performance.
    2. Refine your keyword groupings, audience targeting, demographic segmentation, and geographic targeting based upon efficiency.
    3. Try to lower your CPCs as much as possible.
    4. Segment your campaigns based upon performance so your automated bidding strategies can work off of better data.
  1. Try automating your bid strategy. Let your new bidding strategy run for another 2-8 weeks depending upon how much data your campaign gets. Then assess performance and consider next steps. Some campaigns are better off with manual bidding while others might get excellent results with automated bids right away.

Bonus tips – test out different strategies to see what gives you better results and consider switching back and forth between automation and manual bidding. The manual work you do to start with can better inform your automated bidding strategies.

Final Thoughts

Automation strategies still require TLC to work. Some accounts may see great results right away while others may just be better off with manual bidding. If you put in the work early on, you should be able to improve your chances of succeeding with automated bidding strategies.

If you need help with your campaign’s performance or with setting up automated bidding strategies, then you should book a free consultation with us today. We would be happy to help!

Centaur Consulting Group

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