Keyword Bidding In 2014

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Keyword Bidding In 2014.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: In terms of overall management, where does keyword bidding fit into your scope and why?

  • Bidding still matters, but much less than it did a few years ago. Now it is only about 1/5th of the time and resources I invest. The other 4/5ths are focused on ad testing, targeting refinement, deep dive analysis, and query mining. – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
  • I would say bidding is lower on the priority scale, but still imperative to pay attention to and do right! – Matt Umbro
  • Bidding is important. There are many other things that are more imporant if not just as important as keyword bidding. – Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
    • Same here, but I manage over 400,000 active keywords. I can’t myself do all of. – Leo Sussan
  • I’ve automated most of our bidding processes via scripts, so it’s lower on the scale, but I still look daily at our CPCs. – Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
    • Most bidding can be automated, but its hard to find a system where monitoring automation is faster than doing it manually. – Chris Haleua
  • Not quite sure what you mean, but it’s obviously important as it controls cost & quality. – Nate Knox (@nateknox)
    • Agreed, more so how much bidding plays into your day to day management. – Matt Umbro
  • It’s vital when you know you have fixed conversion values and closing rates. Bidding will allow you to be pretty mathematical. Bidding comes into play more once leads are consistent. – Johnathan Dane (@JohnathanDane)
  • Keyword bidding is one of my main priorities for SEM. – Jonathan Levey (@jlevey)
  • I received a call from Google this week (I checked, they were actually Google!) He said auto-bidding can hurt ad score. – Danielle Forget (@dforget)
  • Seasonality plays a very important role for me. So automated bidding is out the window. No script/tool will beat me. – Andrew Bethel
  • We’re able to track pure profit at the keyword level, so bidding is a powerful component of our overall strategy. However, pricing in the ad, more so than ad position, seems to be the biggest factor in our particular industry. – Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
  • Bidding is still very important – still do it daily. But there are many other factors now that are just as important. – Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
  • I’ve always been of the opinion that daily bid changes are generally unnecessary. What can I test/learn in only a day? I go by week. – Nate Knox
  • Kind of like the search query report – need at least a few days worth of data to make any decisions. – Matt Umbro
  • Depends on the client & goals – if efficiency is the goal, more time is spent on bid adjustments. – Jennifer Vickery (@JennVick)
  • Also, ppc tools help takeaway day-to-day bid changes so we as ppc managers can focus on bigger ideas. – Nate Knox
  • Keyword bid management is an important gear in the well oiled machine of PPC management. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • Bidding becomes more important when trying to increase/decrease position & traffic volume, once cost-per-conversion is solid. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • My answers – always – it depends. In this case on the return on a conversion. Higher the return, less important is the bidding. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • Good amount of lower level, weekly changes based on past performance and potential. Keeps things moving but not too drastic. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Bidding becomes more impt for starting bids on launches, setting bid opt processes/targets, when cpc’s are really high. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
    • I always overbid to begin new campaigns and then lower bids once I start to get data/quality score. – Matt Umbro
    • First few days, I’m willing to overbid to get the love & exposure. After that, I start optimizing. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Totally forgot about explicit bidding for Bing Ads campaigns. This is a crucial part of their algo & thus our strategy as well. – Dave Rosborough

Q2: What are some bid automation rules you setup using AdWords native tools? Why?

  • Pause keywords w significant cost/impressions & no conversions increased bid based on conv rate/# of conversions to be significant/cost. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Have played with rules to target av position – but am less and less convinced by averages. – Steve Cameron
    • Especially since position 4 can be more prominent than position 1 when PLAs are on top of page. – Matt Umbro
      • And when top vs other shows the average to be meaningless. – Steve Cameron
      • And PLA positioning is really unpredictable. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
      • Fact. The reported ad position metrics for PLAs are bogus. – Dave Rosborough
        • Yes! and even if they are accurate, position isn’t as important with PLAs. – Matt Umbro
  • I’ll setup a rule to increase bids when I’ve seen a certain amount of conversions, low enough CPA, and position is 3 or worse. – Matt Umbro
  • Inc/dec bids based on historical cost/converted click metrics. – Jennifer Vickery
  • Mass changes based on poor quality or performance. If a key metric changes negatively, then set up rule to combat it for me. – Nate Knox
  • We bid to Avg Pos & factor in target CPC & CPA ranges to move up/down. Mostly automated rules & filters, testing flexible bids. – Andrew Miller (@AndrewCMiller)
    • But there in lies the point that cost per clicks tend to be high to begin with until you collect enough data. – Matt Umbro
  • Primarily use them to constrict lead volume and flow. Automation is seen w/ a healthy skepticism from here. – Johnathan Dane
  • CPA control rules, such as increasing bids on phrase & exact match keywords within CPA goal, and in positions greater than 3-4. – Dave Rosborough
  • Been moving away from native tools (I can set up contingencies and historical checks in scripts). – Leo Sussan
  • I play w/automation because it amuses me but most of my accts are faster manually. – Theresa Zook
  • I use bid automation to reduce bid headroom between my max CPC and average CPC. – Jonathan Levey
  • Automation frees up my hands, reduces the monotony of my morning adjusts. – Leo Sussan
  • Single purpose rules often fail. Successful rules handle conv efficiency, wasted cost, & clickless impressions in 1 logic flow. – Chris Haleua

Q3: How have bid automation solutions helped your PPC account management efforts?

  • As others have said, automation helps me focus on other areas such as account growth and conversion optimization. – Matt Umbro
  • Saves time (efficiency), one less thing to do, and they work on weekends and holidays. I don’t, if I can help it. – Lisa Sanner
    • I try not to but alas our industry seems to be 24/7 at times. – Matt Umbro
  • Not at all. Automation + Seasonality = Lost Opportunity. – Andrew Bethel
    • Also often takes a few days (volume dependent) for ads & keywords to accrue solid history and then performance improves. – James Svoboda
      • I stick to the 30 Rule when doing anything like automation/CPA bidding. Must have Clean Conversion Data! – Andrew Bethel
        • Yes. I meant more that CPCs and Avg. Positions are unstable to start campaigns, then get better. – James Svoboda
  • I’m not as automated as I’d like to be, particularly in reporting, but it’s helped keep a reign on cost efficiency greatly. – Nate Knox
  • Used Kenshoo’s CPA thres bid algos for both search and PLA campaigns. Lowered CPCs and CPAs but needed 1yr+ of good data. – Michael McEuen (@lonohead)
    • That level of historical data is the annoying part about tools. Some clients, like startups, don’t have it! – Nate Knox
    • Depends on volume, mainly. 3 months or a few thousand clicks, almost every time. – Andrew Miller
  • Auto-Bidding to maximize clicks is an easy win but hits diminishing returns after a short while. We pulse auto rules to verify. – Andrew Miller
  • In select accounts it has been a big help. Volume of keywords are big to manually optimize bids. Overall though I don’t use the automated bidding much. – Sean Evanko (@sevanko)
  • Automation frees up my hands – management is only one aspect of PPC. – Leo Sussan
  • I try not to automate too much through AWs, but it has freed up time for more strategic level efforts. – Jennifer Vickery
  • Display network placements. 2 many 2 manage manually. Automation adds them to managed & bids on em individually based on Goals. – Greg Young (@PPCJedi)
  • I’ve used the AdWords CPA bidding – saw good results but left traffic on the table. – Matt Umbro
    • Seeing that too. Have an acct getting good results w/CPA but that’s b/c it put all the budget behind half a dozen kw. – Theresa Zook
      • It’s useful, but have to give some leeway to your target CPA. – Matt Umbro
        • If I can get client to invest, want to move the unloved kw to a different campaign & work w/them manually. – Theresa Zook
  • I’m wary of automation. Just prefer to always be in control. When I do use automation, I end up reviewing the logs anyway. With automation, it’s can also be easy to set and forget, especially if the accounts are changing hands (agencies, etc). – Dave Rosborough

Q4: How do you determine what your location, device, and bid modifiers will be?

  • I tend to start with a baseline and then adjust incrementally moving forward. Only rarely do I set any of these apart at build. – Michelle Morgan
  • Pull the reports, get the data, do the math. – Robert Brady
  • Typically after a nice long session digging around in analytics! – Dave Rosborough
  • The Data (CPA usually) Determines the Bid Modifiers. – Greg Young
  • Internal tracking. I know what regions are most / least receptive to our brand. Google also provides us with zip code insights. – Leo Sussan
  • Device Bid Modifier = (Mobile RPC / Desktop RPC) -1 – Chris Haleua
  • For geo bids, we like to work w/ client to see if there are places based on their sales data where we should bid + or -. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • Too long for tweet,but tend to focus on outliers, both high and low, for maximum impact. – Robert Brady
  • Based on goal CPA. Pull the data and adjust. – Brady Roundy (@BradyRoundy)
  • I’ve been using PPCHero Pro’s Device Bid Adjuster and found it to be helpful.
  • Time of Day Modifiers = focus more on where the efficiency spikes are during the day instead of the volume spikes. – Chris Haleua
  • We’ve used formulas here & there, but nothing as successful as good old fashioned manual trial and error manual optimization. – Jennifer Vickery

Q5: How do your bids differ by match type? What is your rationale?

  • Routinely launch w/bids tiered by match type. Then watch performance. – Theresa Zook
  • Exact = 100% based on expected conversion rate & avg. CPC. BMM = 70-80% based on wasted Clicks from paying the AdWords Tax, – James Svoboda
    • I don’t “anticipate” what will convert most of the time. I launch equally & let the data decide. – Theresa Zook
      • Different products/services have different value/profit. Bids are estimates for different matching keyword segments. – James Svoboda
        • Ah. Yes, I agree, especially w/product sales. So many additional factors to consider. – Theresa Zook
  • Most specific match types generally have the highest bids, broader match types get lower bids. – Greg Young
  • That’s a big question with infinity answers. Generally, bid less for broader ideas and more for specific / higher ROAS keywords. – Nate Knox
  • Similar to many, more specific match types get higher bids and on down the line. – Matt Umbro
  • One of my scripts – Tiered Bidding. Broad always has a lower bid than Exact Match keywords. – Leo Sussan
  • Here’s the issue with tiered bidding, when you begin everything is in line, but as you optimize, inevitably some broader terms will end up with higher bids than more specific match type counterparts. – Matt Umbro
    • I see what you’re saying. To deal with that, we typically go in and recalibrate tiered bids every so often. – Dave Rosborough
      • In an ideal world, yes, but often times there is so much to review. – Matt Umbro
  • Usually bid a few cents higher for exact, then phrase, down broad. The goal is to show exact 1st if same kws in ad group. – Michael McEuen
  • Mostly E>P>BMM>B logic, but once stats come in I don’t hesitate to let BMM > E. Can check SQR to ensure queries are mapped OK. – Michelle Morgan
    • I’ve stopped using phrase all together, just exact and mod broad for me. And we don’t have to put 50 variations of a keyword together! – Matt Umbro
    • Often reserve Phrase Match for 1 and 2 word keywords to eliminate “fuzzy-ier” matching. – James Svoboda
      • The only time I use P is when word order matters. – Michelle Morgan
  • Does anyone have an opinion on where BMM falls into the mix? Ever above phrase? – Sam Mazaheri (@sammmer)
    • BMM are like crack for me. I use them everywhere and often before phrase. – Nate Knox
    • Always above phrase in my book. – Matt Umbro
    • I don’t even use Phrase Match keywords anymore – my accounts iare BMM – Exact. – Leo Sussan
  • Comes down to overall conversion rate and cost per conversion. What can you afford? – Johnathan Dane

Q6: How much stock do you put into the Google and Bing Ads bid simulator tools?

  • Grain of salt, of course, but a highly useful bit of input. – Theresa Zook
  • So little that I even forget they exist and give blank stares when asked about it/them. – Nate Knox
  • I never use them. Not so much to do with stock as I don’t make my decisions on clicks & est. impressions. – Michelle Morgan
  • Zero credibility. Never gets close to actual. – Andrew Miller
  • They’ve improved a bit in recent yrs. I still prefer to determine bids by my own careful testing vs. platform predictions. – Timothy Jensen
  • Honestly, probably more than I should. It’s one of several tools, but I always find myself taking a look, especially if impression share and average position are low. – Leo Sussan
  • If average position is low I’ll review them, but review all data before making any adjustments. And even with that logic average position isn’t always accurate. In essence, it’s replaced the traffic estimator tool from way back when. – Matt Umbro
  • Its a nice reference to guide bid decisions, but as always, let the data dictate and confirm those changes. – Greg Young
  • About as much as the estimated page one bid figures. – Julie Bacchini
  • As SearchCenter combined with Efficient Frontier to create Media Optimizer, my favorite upgrade was reliable bid simulations. – Chris Haleua
  • I do look at them in big launches, high spend scenarios. Just to see if a little more, might make a difference. – Lisa Sanner

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Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
• Andrew Miller (@AndrewCMiller)
• Brady Roundy (@BradyRoundy)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• Danielle Forget (@dforget)
• Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
• Greg Young (@PPCJedi)
• Jennifer Vickery (@JennVick)
• Johnathan Dane (@JohnathanDane)
• Jonathan Levey (@jlevey)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
• Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
• Michael McEuen (@lonohead)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Nate Knox (@nateknox)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Sam Mazaheri (@sammmer)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Streamcappin…wishin I was Streamnappin

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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