The Smart Guide to Google Ads Automated Bidding (Updated For 2019)

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There’s a lot of talk in the industry about manual bidding. It seems to be THE way to go for experts these days. 

But is it really? With the rise of machine learning and automation, you could save time by using smart bidding strategies.

This post will guide you through every automated bidding option available in Google Ads and give you some ideas of when to use them.

Let’s get started:

  1. Brief Introduction to Automated Bidding
  2. Should you do manual bidding?
  3. The 7 automated bidding strategies
    1. Maximize Clicks
    2. Target Search Page Location
    3. Target Outranking Share
    4. Target CPA
    5. Enhanced CPC
    6. Target ROAS
    7. Maximize Conversions
  4. Conclusion

Brief Introduction to Automated Bidding

When PPC marketing took off in the early 2000s, automated bidding options were not at the forefront. Google AdWords was set up to run on manual bids and required users to set maximum cost per click for their keywords. 

With time, this became even more complex with the addition of bid adjustments for location, time of day, device and more.

The advertiser though, wanted more control. 

They wanted to define their experience with strategies that they were familiar with. They needed better options for calculating a return on sales of products (or services) and generating leads. Advertisers needed to calculate cost of acquisition.

To avoid having to do the math themselves and convert these business goals into manual bids, automated strategies were eventually introduced by Google.

There was a need for an easier solution, an automated smart bidding strategy.

Google Ads Automated Bidding


Should you do manual bidding?

Manual bidding has always been the backbone of AdWords. We’ve all heard stories of experts outright refusing to use automated strategies provided by Google. Their main argument: we don’t trust Google to give us the best return on our investment.

Are they right? Should you attempt manual bidding?

This all depends on your level of knowledge with Google Ads. In my opinion, there isn’t any scenario that doesn’t at least warrant a test run on automated bidding.

To get things started, I typically set new campaigns on the Maximize Clicks strategy. 


Because it’s the easiest way to accumulate data FAST. The more data you have, the more informed decisions you can make. 

Once you have a nice idea of the average CPC and ad position, then it’s time to tweak those campaigns to align with the needs of the advertiser. Yes, this could mean switching back to manual bidding.

But switching to an automated (smart) bidding strategy isn’t as easy as pushing a button. As I mentioned, some strategies require lots of data to be effective.

Let’s have a look at them.

Google Ads Automated Bidding

The 7 automated bidding strategies

Google Ads has a total of 7 smart bidding strategies available:


Google Ads Automated Bid Strategies

➡ Maximize Clicks

Automatically sets your bids to help get as many clicks as possible within your budget.

The Good & The Bad

  • Good to start off new campaigns.
  • Good for researching average CPC and comparing them to ad position.
  • Good first step before switching to ECPC if you want to bid manually.
  • Good because you can still manage bid adjustments.
  • Good if competition is fierce and you want to try to “out click” rivals.
  • Bad for conversions goals

➡ Target Search Page Location

Automatically set your bids to help increase the chances of your ads appearing at the top of the page (above organic results) or on the first page of search results.

The Good & The Bad

  • Good for the ego (but not much else) if you’re looking to appear in the top 4 ads as much as possible.
  • Good if you think your business needs those clicks to get noticed.
  • Bad for your wallet. Your CPC could skyrocket.

➡ Target Outranking Share

You choose another advertiser’s domain you want to outrank in ad position and how often you want to outrank it, and automatically sets your bids to help meet that target.

The Good & The Bad

  • Good if your competitors are consistently outranking you.
  • Good if you think your business can benefit from more impressions than your competitors.
  • Bad for your wallet. Your CPC could skyrocket.

➡ Target CPA

Automatically sets your bids to help get as many conversions as possible at the target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) you set. Conversion CPAs averages around your target.

The Good & The Bad

  • Good, because this is the most advanced smart bidding strategy available.
  • Good to keep your CPA around a set goal.
  • You’ll need lots of past conversion data for Google Ads to use this method effectively. Look for at least 15-30 good conversions int he past month.
  • Bad because sometimes conversions can come in slowly.

➡ Enhanced CPC

Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC) give you control by allowing you to set your own maximum cost-per-click, while automatically adjusting your manual bids to help you get more conversions, while trying to achieve the same cost-per-conversion.

The Good & The Bad

  • Good if you’re a stickler for manual bidding.
  • Good because ECPC gives leeway to adjust your bids automatically if it thinks it can drive a conversion.
  • Bad if you’re looking to save time on managing bids manually.

➡ Target ROAS

Target ROAS automatically sets bids to help get as much conversion value as possible at the target return on ad spend (ROAS) you set. Some conversions may have a higher or lower return than your target.

The Good & The Bad

  • Good for shopping campaigns.
  • Good if you have set conversion values.


➡ Maximize Conversions

Automatically sets bids to help you get the most conversions for your campaign within your budget.

The Good & The Bad

  • Great if you’re looking to get as many conversions as possible.
  • Great if you’re looking to spend your full budget.
  • Bad if you’re looking to control your CPA


Don’t fear the machine. Google’s machine learning has come a long way and there really isn’t a reason why these “smart” strategies can’t work along side old methods.

Testing is the way to go. 

There’s really no better time than now to set your old ways aside and give one of these new methods a try.

But as great as these new options are, humans are still needed to manage common pitfalls of automated strategies.

I’ll try to explore these in one of my future posts.

Now It’s Your Turn

That’s pretty much it 🙂

I’d love to hear from you! 

Do you have any questions or cool tips not included here? 

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now:

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