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Use AdWords automations to beef up your bidding strategy

Published: June 5, 2013

Author: Jay Stampfl

In my last post, I talked about some of the logic and criteria you should use for your bidding strategy. Once you have a good sense of your goals and time frame, you’re ready to create automations.
automations in adwords
There are a number of different ways to use automations: pausing ads, changing daily budget, or even just sending email notifications. For today, we are just going to focus on bidding strategies – basic set-up steps and examples of automations based on performance.
Let’s start on the campaign tab and hover over the automate tab. There we are going to see the different automation options, including create rules for keyword.
Here are some basic steps for creating automations:
1. Identify if you would like the rules to apply to all keyword or just a campaign (unfortunately there is no way to choose a subsection of campaigns, though you can address this with labels).
2. Decide how big a change you want to make to your bid. Usually I would not recommend anything higher than 10 percent change. These automations are going to be running in the background of the account – if you have high bid changes, you can overshoot the correct point of optimization.
3. Determine maximum bids. Best practice is to set a max bid and periodically check to see what percentage of KWs is hitting the ceiling. I would not worry about minimum bid as we are going to create a rule to address low-volume/high-average-rank keywords.
4. Set your requirements. This is where you set the list of metrics you want to see to have a specific action taken.  Different rules are going to have different logic – the most important thing is that you create a logic that correlates one-to-one automation. (It might be helpful to manually draw a tree to show this.) At this point you can get very create in choosing what attribute you set.
The most important criteria are going to be CPA/ROAS and Avg. Rank,  but you do have the option to use many different metrics like bounce rate, match type, Quality Score, or even pages per visit (if you are importing GA data into your account).
5. Be smart with frequency and time length. Be wary of how often you make changes. Depending on the account, any single day of data may not be statistically significant; you want to look at a long enough period of time to let the data accumulate before making any big changes.
My most-used automations are based on performance metrics. Here’s what those might look like:
examples of automation
And here’s a quick breakdown of the buckets I like to use:
Winners – On keywords that exceed ROAS goals, we will bid up. (I recommend using a bid cap to mediate the risk of overbidding.) We are also going to be set an average rank qualification in order to assess how much room there is to push for volume.  If your average position is already high, changing the bid won’t do much besides raise your CPC. In certain situations, though, the numbers will tell you it’s well worth trying to move from the side positions to the top of the page.
Losers – These are KWs that are not performing and have exceeded cost or click requirements.  We are going to use the same ROAS target – in this case, losers are anything lower than the ROAS number we chose for the winner automation. For the losers, of course, we lower bids…and I use criteria that allow me to move faster on clicks accruing the most cost.
automation ui
Ghosts – KWs that are not getting any impressions. In general, we want to avoid any bidding automation that is ultimately directional. That is why we use a rank cap for our winners and bid up on KWs that do not receive any data. The market changes, and any given auction is going to have moving points of optimization, so we build in a logic that will reassess  any KW that has been bid down to the point of zero volume.
How are you using automations? Leave a comment!

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