The 3 Times When Smart Bidding Makes Sense

When i first drafted the course module on Smart Bidding – a few months before recording it – I jotted down that we were right at the tipping point of whether Smart Bidding for search campaigns was as good as a (very) well-managed account on manual bidding.

Now (late 2020, and this is a fast-moving topic…) I think we’re passed that tipping point.

I now believe smart bidding should usually be either

  • in place in your account already


  • something you’re working towards

There are three situations where I believe Smart Bidding is the right choice…

1) You don’t have the time, knowledge or inclination to bid manually

This is the obvious one.

If you don’t trust yourself to bid manually – or just don’t want to put in the time required – then Smart Bidding starts to look like the better option.

Where this is the case – follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you have conversion tracking in place, comprehensive and accurate, and ideally with goal values set
  2. Set your campaign/s on a ‘Maximise’ strategy – Maximise Clicks being the best choice while you gather your initial conversion data
  3. Move to a Target CPA/ROAS strategy once the data is available.

2) You're not getting the performance you want with manual bidding

If this is your reason for switching (a retreat rather than an advance) then try other ways of improving performance first.

Shifting bid strategy is a relatively big deal… You’ll want to explore all your options before handing the keys over to the algorithm.

But somewhere near the end of the list of methods to try, is a change of bid strategy.

In these cases, the best candidate is likely to be Maximise Conversions/Conversion Value.

3) Your campaign is already performing well, driving a high volume of conversions*, consistently

Here, you can skip the Maximise strategies and test out the more reliable Target CPA or Target ROAS – but test them with a campaign experiment before committing.

Scenario 3 is where moving from Manual to Smart can take you to the top of the bid optimisation ladder.

And this is what I mean when I say that Smart Bidding is usually an outcome worth working towards… as this scenario itself is usually desirable.

You usually want to be driving a steady, high-volume stream of conversions, setting you up for the trial, which you can then finalise if it proves to be (even) more successful than your manual efforts.

*Google usually recommends a minimum of 30 conversions per month – or 50 for the Target ROAS strategy. I make a slight tweak to that recommendation, as I explain in the Smart Bidding course module.

Extract from the smart bidding module of Google Ads Level Up – the complete paid search optimisation course.

For the rest of the module – plus….

– 40+ more videos showing how to get the most out of your Google Ads campaigns
– Ongoing support in the members-only Facebook group
– Live Q&As
– Actionable cheatsheets and resources
– 30% off one-to-one strategy sessions

Join Google Ads Level Up

Share this post

Lastest Posts

Google Ads Updates - Q1 2024 Roundup

No slowdown in the pace of change with Google Ads updates in Q1 2024… Here’s…

Aggregation vs Articulation: Competing Virtues of PPC Management

Three ‘A’s Two concepts have been central to the recent evolution of Google Ads: aggregation…