Google Ads Bidding Options: Overwhelmed With Choices?

Back when I first started learning pay per click (PPC), there was only one bidding option for what was then called Google Adwords, manual cost per click (CPC). That was it. It certainly made the decision on which method to use simple. While the decision was simple, the method wasn’t. Sure you could use a simple formula: CPC * (how many clicks it takes to get a conversion) = your Target CPA. I always tended to bid by feel and still do in manual CPC campaigns too this day. Mostly because I always want to pay the lowest cost per click possible.

Manual CPC

Back then int was much more simple. Bid one penny more than your competitor and show up above them. There were even tools you could get that figured out what your competitors were bidding. You could use an automated bid management tool that would use that data to get the position you wanted. Then came quality score changing the bidding landscape on Google Ads to this day. The new formula became (max CPC * Quality Score) = Ad rank. The ad rank among your competitors is what determines your position on the search results page.

According to Google:

Your max. CPC bid is the most you'll be charged for a click, but you'll often be charged less - sometimes much less. That final amount you're charged for a click is called the actual CPC.

Actual CPC is often less than max. CPC because with the Google Ads auction, the most you'll pay is what's minimally required to hold your ad position and any extensions shown with your ad, such as sitelinks. For example, if your Ad Rank places you immediately above search results (Ex: in the fourth position) with location extensions and sitelinks, you’ll pay the minimum amount necessary to keep that position -- and meet the relevant thresholds tied to that position -- with those extensions.

Very rarely do you actually pay your maximum cost per click, but you’re telling Google that’s the most you’re willing to pay. The difference between your average CPC and maximum CPC is called headroom. Here’s an insiders tip: it’s a good idea to have your headroom be as low as possible. This will typically reduce your average cost per click from what we’ve seen over the years.

Manual CPC bidding is a bit of a lost art in today’s PPC landscape. Personally, it’s been by far the hardest thing to train anyone in PPC on doing. Most PPC managers that excel at it have been doing PPC management before there were any automated solutions to bidding.

When Should You Use Manual CPC bidding?

Manual CPC bidding is available for search, shopping & display campaigns. If you ask Google, they’ll likely tell you NEVER. In fact, when you change your bidding settings in the interface it actually says this:

google ads manual CPC.png

Now don’t get me wrong. This is a 100% accurate statement, but so is Setting bids manually (when done properly) may result in higher performance. Trust me when I say, don’t believe everything Google has to say. They have a way of almost forcing you to do what they believe is the right way. Since their entire business model is based on making money, that alone should at least make you question the recommendation.

The truth is there’s no exact science to this. For any given advertiser, campaign, ad group & keyword the results may differ. Personally, I start nearly every new campaign on manual bidding to create a baseline. When I have that baseline I start testing other bidding options. There is most likely many that feel the complete opposite and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Enhanced CPC

Enhanced CPC is a box you can check along with manual CPC bidding. It’s not applicable to any other bidding type. For Google, this was the beginning of any automated bidding. Here’s what it looks like:

google ads enhanced cpc.png

Enhanced CPC uses manual bidding with a smart bidding layer on top of it. According to Google:

This strategy raises your manual bids in situations that seem more likely to lead to a sale or other conversion on your website, and lowers your bid for situations that seem less likely to lead to a conversion.

The major difference to keep in mind when using enhanced CPC is that Google can raise your bid above your maximum cost per click if they believe it to be more likely to convert. Again, you’ll see various answers on the results from this. From what I’ve seen most PPC managers have had good results with this and tend to use it. I know many that feel the opposite though. What’s the answer? Test.

Smart Bidding

There are a variety of bidding options across different campaign types that use smart bidding. While Google recommends Smart Bidding in virtually any case it’s not always the ideal solution. Even when you decide to implement or test smart bidding, there are a variety of choices and depending on the advertiser one might work better than another.

There are many reasons why Smart Bidding has an advantage over manual bidding, but that doesn’t always mean it performs better. If you’re using manual CPC bidding you have the ability to adjust bids based on the following: time of day, day of week, device, audience, location & demographic. In the Google Ads interface we have access to see the performance on each of those data points and choose to bid up, down or exclude.

However, Smart Bidding has those plus additional factors: location intent, ad characteristics, interface language, browser, operating system, actual search query, and depending on the type of campaign you’re running a few others. Even if we had access to every one of those options with manual bidding, it can get far too complex to manage. This is where artificial intelligence comes in. When a search is completed on Google, artificial intelligence will look at all of those factors and decide what your optimal bid should be. This is done every single time a search is made.

While that all seems amazing, one of the challenges artificial intelligence is up against is it relies on the data coming into the algorithm. A good rule of thumb is the more data you’re feeding it, the better it can determine your bid. Now the opposite can also be true. The less data your feeding it, the harder time it has determining your optimal bid. Even Google recommends at least 30 conversions over a month or longer to let the algorithm learn. What happens if you don’t do that much volume in a month? The algorithm still tries to determine your bid, but the likelihood of accuracy can go down.

Does this mean that if you don’t get 30 conversions within a month you should always use manual bidding? Although a good rule of thumb, not exactly. In fact we have two cases just within the last 30 days where we tested Smart Bidding on low volume campaigns and in both cases the results beat our manual bidding. In both cases we went out on a limb with this test.

Here’s one example:

smart bidding test.png

This one has an almost identical cost per conversion and we’ll continue to run this experiment until we have statistically significant results. What’s most interesting here is when you look at the cost per click and conversion rate. Both are nearly double. When they algorithm used all the factors is had for certain keyword searches, it determined a bid significantly higher than our bid would have a high conversion rate. They were right.

Here’s another:

I have plenty of examples of the opposite on either low or high volume campaigns, but what impresses me the most on these is how good the smart bidding is doing on such low volume. Does this mean we switched all our low volume campaigns to smart bidding? Nope. However, we are now going to run more similar tests for lower budget clients.

Now we’ll get into the different types of smart bidding.

Target CPA

This is likely your most common. With Target CPA you (the advertiser) determines the most you would like to pay for a conversion and the algorithm will try to match or beat your target CPA. Keep in mind this does not mean it will. It only means it will try.

Target CPA is a good starting point for many advertisers to test assuming your tracking conversions. It can work well for both lead generation and eCommerce. The best way to start testing this is a campaign that has historical performance data that will give you a baseline target CPA to start with. Typically you’ll want to start with the recommended Target CPA and let the algorithm learn. From there you can start to bring it down. However, Google does claim you can start a campaign from scratch with this bidding type and it will learn on the go.

Maximize Conversions

Maximize conversions uses your budget to try and get you the most conversions while spending your full daily budget. This can be great for campaigns that are either hitting their daily budget or campaigns that aren’t hitting their daily budget, but you would like them to even if it means a higher CPA.

While target CPA focuses mostly on hitting your target CPA, maximize conversions focuses more on hitting your daily budget while getting you the most conversions.

We don’t use this one as much, but we do use it for most clients if the campaign consistently hits our daily budgets.

Target ROAS (Return on ad spend)

Target ROAS can be a great option for eCommerce clients. Often times with eCommerce, ROAS is far more important the your cost per purchase. This smart bidding type works virtually the same as Target CPA, but instead of focusing on your cost per conversion column, it focuses on your conversion value divided by cost (ROAS).

Maximize Clicks

Maximize clicks just like it says, focuses on clicks. Mostly intended for branding advertisers who are looking for click volume ahead of any other metric, there are other use cases as well. Like maximize conversions, the algorithm will focus on spending your budget in full while getting you the most clicks.

A great case for using this bid type is if you aren’t tracking any conversions. Another way that we actually use quite often is when starting out a new campaign. Sometimes we’ll start out with maximize clicks because it may help speed up the process of getting clicks and spending our budget quickly. When we start out with manual CPC we are typically starting as low as possible and increasing bids until we get enough volume. Maximize clicks can help do that for us.

We highly recommend setting a manual bid cap when using this because it can increase your cost per click more than you’d like. While you should always keep a close eye when testing a new bid strategy, keep an extra close eye when testing maximize clicks.

Target Impression Share

Last, but not least target impression share. This is replacing target search page location as Google Ads is getting rid of average position anyway. The algorithm will set your bids with the goal of showing your ad on the absolute top of the page, on the top of the page, or anywhere on the page depending which option you choose.

Here’s what it looks like:

target impression share.png

First you would choose where on the page you want to show and then you choose the percent impression share you would like in that location. You also can set a CPC bid cap.

This can be a great bidding type for any client focused on branding and also can be good to test for brand campaigns with sales or lead goals that want to own the search results for their brand.


Overwhelming isn’t it? That’s what we’re here for at RelayPM. We highly recommend using an agency to manage your Google Ads account for this very reason. We’ve run hundreds of campaigns using every single bidding option available. This allows us to know which is best for each client to start with. We always test other bidding types though, whether it’s manual CPC or any type of smart bidding.

So which bidding type is right for you? The answer is all of them or just one of them. The only way to figure that out is to test and then keep testing. We love that Smart Bidding allows us to take one thing off of our plate so we can focus on another piece of the pay per click puzzle, but it’s not always the most efficient type.

Google Ads Auto-Tagging: What Is It & Who Should Use It?

Google Ads Auto-tagging has been around for as long as I can remember (and I’ve been doing this since 2006). While it’s not new, many companies using Google Ads and even some PPC managers either have never heard of it or aren’t quite sure exactly what it is.

Google Ads Account Settings

The default setting in Google Ads is auto-tagging turned on. The way to find this has changed a few times. Currently, On the left side you’ll see a list that looks like this image below. It doesn’t matter where you are in the interface you can click there. When you get here you’ll want to make sure and click Account Settings on the top.

google ads account settings.png

Once you are here you’ll see a full list of account level settings. One of them you’ll see is Auto-tagging and if you click in you’ll likely see the box checked off.

google ads account settings list.png

What Is Auto-Tagging?

Auto-tagging is designed to be used with Google Analytics. What it does is automatically append special tagging to all of your ads so that they data can be parsed out inside of Google Analytics. If you’re familiar at all with Google Analytics tagging you might be thinking about UTM tags. If you didn’t know any better you might think that if you use auto-tagging, all Google does is automatically create UTM tags for your ads. That would make sense wouldn’t it?

Look what happens when I click an ad on Google for an account that has auto-tagging enabled (we know this because it’s one of our clients)


No UTM tags are to be found in this URL. What you see instead is a gclid tag followed by a bunch of letters, numbers and symbols. Why do they use a gclid and not UTM tags? After all, UTM tags were created for Google Analytics originally.

Why Does Google Use The GCLID?

A gclid is simply a Google click ID. There are a couple reasons Google uses a special click ID (which only Google Analytics can read) and not UTM tags. For starters, they want you to use Google Analytics for all your website tracking needs. Another reason is that UTM tagging only has 5 parameters that it can pass: source, medium, campaign name, campaign term, content. Google passes dozens of other data points from their click id into Google analytics that can only be passed this very way.

If you login to your Google Analytics account, under Acquisition you’ll see an entire Google Ads section:

google analytics google ads.png

You’ll see shopping data, hour of day, ad group and more. None of that would be possible without the gclid. If you’re Google analytics and Google Ads accounts are linked together you’ll also see cost data. If you have auto-tagging turned off and are manually UTM tagging you’ll still see data in here, but only for what you can pass which is limited to source, medium, campaign name, keyword and content.

Using auto-tagging and linking up your Google Ads and Google analytics accounts will provide you with all sorts of new data points that you can slice and dice up to get a deeper view of your advertising and how it integrates with your other website traffic.

Why Not Auto-tag?

The limitation of auto-tagging is when you are passing data into another place outside of Google analytics. This could be Omniture, Salesforce or any other type of CRM. Only Google analytics can parse the data in a gclid so you won’t see any of this passed to other tracking platforms.

If you are doing this already, make sure and double check your data. We’ve seen all sorts of funky things happen over the years when doing this.

Can I auto-tag and manually append UTM tags?

Technically it is possible, but I would advise against this. Even if you match up all the naming perfectly, we still will typically see data issues in Google analytics. To be safe and keep your data clean we would advise against this option. The better solution would be to create something outside of UTM tags that Google analytics wouldn’t read for your other tracking platform. In some cases this is farily simple, like with Salesforce and Omniture, but other cases it isn’t like if you’re using Unbounce and want the lead data passed.

If you must use UTM tags for your other tracking sources, you are better off missing out on the extra data passed from Google Ads to Google analytics, turn off auto-tagging and use only manually created UTM tagging.

If you have any other further questions on tracking your Google ads, please message, text or call and we’ll help you out.

Google Ads Tracking: Conversion Vs All Conversions

Whether you’ve been advertising with Google Ads for many years or just a few months you may be confused about the difference between the All Conversion columns and the Conversion columns. If you've seen a report from us or another agency you’re working with you may see All Conversions sometimes and Conversions sometimes without ever fully understanding the difference.

Google ads conversion tracking.png

If you’ve been using Google Ads for at least a couple years you’ve seen the removal of the Converted Clicks and the addition of the All Conversion columns. Those newer to Google ads have only seen Conversions and All Conversions. So what’s the difference?

Converted Clicks

Converted Clicks was the original Google conversion tracking column. Converted clicks was slightly different than any of the other conversion tracking columns because it was based on the click. It’s how many clicks converted versus how many conversions happened. What this meant was that one person convert multiple times, it would only count it as one. This was a favorite for most lead generation campaigns because if multiple lead forms were submitted by a single user, it would only show you one converted click. With lead generation campaigns having the same person submit their information multiple times in most cases is useless. Converted clicks gave you the true number of leads you received that were different.

Keep this in mind because depending on how your current conversion tracking is setup, because the converted clicks column was removed, you can see multiple conversions from the same person. This might not matter for eCommerce, but it certainly does for lead generation. Conversions can be adjusted to track similarly to Converted Clicks, but it was nice to have them both so you can see the difference as well.


After Converted Clicks was sunsetted in September 2016, Conversions became the default tracking column. The automatic addition when you switched over to using Conversions vs Converted Clicks was that cross-device conversions were automatically included. While there is a separate column for cross-device conversions, there’s no way to remove them from the Conversions column without manually doing the math. Keep in mind, Google only reports a cross-device conversions when they are absolutely certain it was the same person. Also, this is one of the many discrepancies when you compare to Google Analytics because Google Analytics will not track cross-device conversions. If you’re looking at the Conversions column and you also have the cross-device column showing, it’s important to remember those are already included.

Google still allows you to make the Conversions column report similarly to the Converted Clicks column, but you have to manually change the setting. If you go to the Conversions page (Tools > Measurement > Conversions) you will see a full list of conversion types. If you click into one of the website source ones (see source column) and click Edit Settings. You’ll see a section that says Count (see below).

Google ads conversion counting.png

The default setting for this is “every,” but if you change it to one it will be similar to Converted Clicks. The primary deciding factor here would be the type of business you have. Most likely if you’re tracking lead generation of any sort you want to count only One and most likely if you’re an eCommerce company you want to keep the default "every” setting. The “one” setting will remove any duplicates if the same person converts more than once. Typically on an eCommerce website, even if the same person converts twice you will want to see two separate conversions because there will be revenue attributed to both.

While we’re in the conversion actions settings area there’s one more section you’ll want to be aware of when considering which conversions columns you should be using. It’s called “Include in Conversions.”

Google ads include in conversions.png

In a case of having multiple conversion types in your account, which many do, this is where you’ll decide which you want to see in the Conversions column and which will only be in the All Conversions column that we’ll discuss later. Again, keep in mind the default here will be to include so make sure you uncheck this box if you don’t want it to be part of your Conversion column.

All Conversions

All Conversions is exactly how it sounds. This is every conversion action in your account as well as cross-device, store visits, local actions (if using business location extensions) and (if you don’t change your settings) view through conversions. The addition of view through conversions being added to the All Conversions column happened randomly I believe almost two years ago. If you’re running any display or YouTube campaigns and you don’t want view through conversions to be included in your All Conversions column, make sure and do the following:

  1. Tools > Measurement > Conversions

  2. On the left you’ll see Settings

  3. Uncheck the box you see below

Google view through conversions.png

Which Conversion Column Should You Use?

That entirely depends on the client, but in most cases the safe bet is using the Conversion column and picking the exact conversion actions in your account that you would typically like to report on. The All Conversion column can be ever changing. One day there could be something additional included in that column that you don’t realize. If you stick with the Conversion column you will always control exactly what your looking at and using to optimize your account.

Google ads conversion segement.png

If you want to see all your conversions, all you need to do is add the All Conversions column and segment by conversion type. (see image)

If you have any further questions about Google Ads conversion tracking, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll help you out.

Microsoft (Bing) Audience Ads, Not To Be Confused With Audiences

What Is The Audience Network?

About a year ago this month Bing Ads announced a new 'Audience Network.' The network replaced their native ads offering they have had for a few years. The new 'Audience Network' is their AI powered solution to compete with the Google Display Network and extend the reach of the ads you run on Microsoft/Bing. The Audience Network is powered by AI using the Microsoft Graph which tracks anonymized user data across the web to optimize performance while extending advertiser reach. According to Microsoft:

Ad placements across premium sites like MSN, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Edge, as well as other partner sites, blend naturally into your consumers' experiences. That way, you can put the right ad message in front of your customers at the right time in their decision-making process.

There are two ways to run your ads across the Microsoft Audience Network:

1. Search Campaigns

2. Audience Campaigns

Although Audience Campaigns were announced over a year ago, they are still in a closed beta. For more information on how to set these up (as our agency doesn’t currently have access to them) see Microsoft’s guide here. Below is a summary of the placements.

Audience Network For Search Campaigns

Extending the reach of your search campaigns through the Audience Network has been active since May of last year . Every search & shopping campaign as of right now has automatically opted into this. If you're currently managing ads on Microsoft/Bing and this is the first time you're hearing about the audience network, you are running on it without realizing it.

microsoft ads network.png

In order to view the audience network performance data on any tab within the Microsoft Ads interface you can segment by network. The settings for the audience network are different than ad distribution. Ad distribution is chosen at the ad group level and you are either choosing certain networks or you are not. Audience ads can be adjusted at either the campaign level or the ad group level. On a positive note you have more control than within the ad distribution options. With audience ads you choose a bid modifier. If you don’t want to run at all on the audience network you choose -100%.

Under Settings within the campaign or ad group you’ll see Audience Ads towards the button (see image below).

How Do Audience Ads For Search Work?

Microsoft automatically creates the ads using the creative elements and your existing text ads. If you have image extensions running those images will be used as well to create a more visual native placement. According to Microsoft if you don’t have image extensions they will use licensed stock images to increase the number of placements your ads are eligible for.

Next Steps

You should immediately log into your Microsoft ads account and review the segmented audience network data. From there choose to continue running or adjust your bid modifiers accordingly. If you’re going to continue running or at least testing the Audience Network, be sure and add in image extensions (which you should have anyway).

To continue reading about Microsoft (Bing) ads check out our other blog articles:

Bing Ads Custom Audiences: Worth The Effort For Some

The Time Has Come: Bing Ads Has Taken Over Yahoo Search

Bing Ads: Are They Worth the Trouble?

Google Express: Is This Just Google's Version Of Amazon?

Launched initially 6 years ago Google Express has gone relatively unnoticed. Few have used it, and even less have heard of it. At first glance, it appears to be a lot like Amazon, but there are some distinct differences.

Is Google Trying To Compete With Amazon?

Yes and no. While at first glance Google Express appears to look a lot like Amazon, it is different. For close comparison, it’s more like eBay. With Google Express you can buy products from multiple retailers in one checkout (like Amazon), but once the order is completed the individual retailers you bought from take over the order. The vast majority of items purchased on Amazon ship directly from an Amazon warehouse and are delivery by Amazon. With Google Express, if you are buying an item from Target, you pay Google, but Target packages and ships the item to you.

What is Google Express?

When Google Express launched 6 years ago the eCommerce landscape was completely different than today. Amazon was growing rapidly, and most major brick and mortar stores had not even begun to know how to compete. Google Express initially launched in the San Francisco Bay area only on a free trial basis with plans to become a yearly membership program (like Amazon Prime). Products were picked up directly from stores like Target, Home Depot & Walmart and delivered to your home by Google.

Over the next 4 years, Google Express tested different methods and programs. At this point, more than 90% of the United States could use the program. Google partnered with local retailers and with a $95 membership fee you would get free delivery. At this time Walmart joined forces with Google significantly increasing the number of products you could purchase with Google Express. At the time Walmart was after the voice purchase part of Google Express using Google home devices. Fast forward two years Walmart has finally become someone to compete in eCommerce, and they pulled out of Google Express to focus on their own program.

Today anyone in the United States can order off Google Express, and the program has opened up to more local retailers. See the full list here.

Why Use Google Express?

Google Express offers a clean, simple checkout where you can purchase directly from the retail partners, but in one purchase. No need to place multiple orders at once or create multiple accounts with the various retailers. What’s great for the retailers, unlike Amazon, is that they continue to own the customer once the purchase is completed.

For lesser known retailers, Google is there to back the purchase. Retailers have to adhere to the minimum return policy required by Google Express and shipping times are monitored.

How Does Google Express Integrate With Google Home?

Here’s the answer to Google’s current long term plan with Google Express. As voice purchasing picks up momentum, Amazon can fulfill ,on the Amazon Alexa device, but Google didn’t have an answer for Google Home. As Google Home continues to grow, it will give Alexa real competition in voice search and product purchasing. Last month Walmart even joined forces back with Google to support Google Home voice purchasing.

Can Anyone List Products On Google Express?

In recent months Google has begun to open Google Express up to more retailers with Google Shopping integrations. Through a platform called Shopping Actions you can apply to be a retailer on Google Express. There are more minimum requirements than Google Shopping as Google plans to keep Google Express a separate program.

If you’re interested in joining Google Express, let us know, and we’ll walk you through the application process.

Take Action! With The New Bing Ads Action Extension

Bing Ads has a new ad extension and there’s something special about it. It’s exclusive to Bing ads. They didn’t just copy Google Ad extensions.

According to Bing Ads:

This extension allows you to highlight a clear call-to-action on your text ads to entice customers to immediately click and drive them to your website.

The new Action Extensions is now available across all Bing ads markets and can run on both desktop and mobile ads. To be sure you will find a match for your company, Bing has added 70 different predetermined Action buttons.

Action Extensions List


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What Do They Look Like?

Here’s an example on desktop:

bing action extensions.jpg

Here’s an example on mobile:

mobile bing action extensions.jpg

Details About Action Extensions

  • A click on an Action Extension has the same cost per clicks as a sitelink or your ad

  • Action Extensions will show with other ad extensions, like sitelinks.

  • They can be setup at the account, campaign or ad group level

  • There is a URL field where you can use a separate URL from the ad text, but if you leave the field blank it will use the ad text URL

How To Setup Bing Ads Action Extensions

  1. Login to your Bing Ads account

  2. Click the campaigns tab

  3. Click the ad extensions tab

  4. In the ad extension drop down click and find Action Extensions

  5. Click the create ad extension button

  6. Click +add new ad extension

  7. From here you choose

    1. Language

    2. Action Text

    3. Final URL (optional)

    4. Mobile URL (optional)

    5. Tracking Template (optional)

    6. Ad scheduling (optional)

What Next?

It’s time to set yours up and test. Be sure and follow up to see if you’re seeing an improved click through and conversion rates. Let us know what you find. Don’t forget to test different buttons. There might be more than one that work for your business and call to action.

For more information on Bing ads read our other content:

The Time Has Come: Bing Ads Has Taken Over Yahoo Search

Bing Ads Custom Audiences: Worth The Effort For Some

Bing Ads: Are They Worth The Trouble?

The Time Has Come: Bing Ads Has Taken Over Yahoo Search

As of April 1, 2019 Bing search ads took over all advertisements on Yahoo Search. For further details on the transition read our blog post from January Yahoo Search Ads: Where Are They Now? If you were of the small percentage of advertisers manager ads directly through the Oath Ads Manager (Verizon’s name for Yahoo Search Ads), this is a relief as you now have one less platform to manage. Not to mention Bing Ads is a far more advanced platform than Oath was.

The most recent data according to Statista is that Bing handled just under 25% of all search queries in the United States and Oath (formerly Yahoo) handled just under 12%. This now gives Bing a boost to handling search ads for roughly 35% of all searches in the United States. In International markets Yahoo is a bigger search engine than Bing. If you have run Bing Ads for countries outside the United States you know how small their market share was internationally. This should help give them a boost.

What Are Your Next Steps?

  1. If you were running search ads through Oath you should have already transferred everything over to Bing before March 31st with your account rep

  2. If you are still only running search ads on Google, this change will give Bing Ads more traffic and increase the value of taking the time to manage another platform. Read our blog about Bing ads if you are unsure.

  3. Look for both a potential dip in your Google search ad impressions and an increase in your Bing search ad impressions. Be ready for a potential 10-15% budget increase. Remember, Yahoo was using both Bing and Google prior to April 1, 2019 for their advertisements.

  4. If you run campaigns outside the United States on Google, but not on Bing because their international search volume was insignificant, it may be worth testing this out again.

In Bing Ads you can segment by network, but they combine Bing & Yahoo search together. Maybe now that they are taking over all of Yahoo search they will change this to allow for further segmentation and management across the two networks.

On the few test searches we’ve done on Yahoo since the transition this month, Bing is showing 5 ads above the organic results on many queries. Even when Bing shows 3-4 results they are showing 5 on Yahoo. We’ll continue to keep an eye on this as they will likely be testing.

If you have any questions or would like us to manage Google or Bing ads for your company, feel free to call or send us a message.

Bing Ads Custom Audiences: Worth The Effort For Some

Bing Ads recently rolled out custom audiences across all advertisers is most markets after nearly 2 years in beta. According to Bing:

Custom Audiences can help you anticipate your customers’ needs and reach them with the right message. You can bid more aggressively for those high-value customers, whether you’re helping them complete a purchase or you’re upselling or cross-selling. The more you know about your customers, the better you can target — and more precise targeting can help you achieve a greater return on ad spend (ROAS). Our pilot participants saw up to 18 percent higher click-through rates (CTR).1 The sky is the limit for how you can manage your own customers’ activity, purchases and behavior via CRM tools.

Bing took a different approach than Google Ads Customer Match significantly limiting the number of advertisers that can utilize their custom audiences. Where in Google Ads you can upload a list directly into your account, with Bing Ads you can only integrate through a DMP partner. Currently, there are direct integrations with Adobe Audience Manager, LiveRamp and Oracle BlueKai. What if you don’t now work with one of these three data providers? Well, you can’t use Bing Ads Custom Audiences unless you choose to start working with one of the DMP’s.

Why Would Bing Ads Take This Approach?

Forcing you to work with one of Bing’s DMP partners likely removes at least 75% of their advertisers from being able to use their custom audiences. The vast majority of changes Bing has made to their search advertising program in recent years has been to simplify the process to increase the number of direct advertisers that are on Bing.

The hot topic in the past year has been around data privacy. Facebook especially has been under a microscope when it comes to this subject. Unfortunately, this has caused them to make many changes to their platform to continue to be a trusted platform for their customers. With so much focus being on Facebook, Google and Bing have been escaping much of the scrutiny… for now. Bing most likely is approaching custom audiences in this way to avoid any data privacy questioning. Google and Facebook allow you to upload a list of contact information that in reality, you can get from anywhere. There is no verification that it’s actually your data to use. We can make a reasonable assumption that eventually Facebook and Google will have to tighten up their custom audience program to be more secure like Bing Ads is.

Custom Audiences Across Bing Ads & Google Ads Isn’t For Most Advertisers

Facebook has done an impressive job making advertising towards custom audiences work well for large and small audiences. Google and Bing custom audiences are mostly designed for businesses with tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of customers. Where Facebook can easily matchup 90%+ of your customer profiles and the only requirement for those customers to see your ads is they need to be on Facebook or Instagram, that covers a much larger pool of people. Google and Bing have much lower match up rates when you target a specific customer list. Not only that, once there is a match up, that person has to search for a keyword you are actively bidding on.

With Bing having a much smaller part of the search market than Google, you need an even larger customer base to capture those actively searching on Bing.

What Are The Next Steps?

If you’re currently working with one of the DMP’s mentioned above there are instructions for setting up the custom audiences in Bing Ads here. If you’re not now working with one of those DMP’s most likely it isn’t worth your time and effort to enter into this program. If you would to check it out the links above will take you to each of the partner DMP’s to get more information on the program.

Otherwise, feel free to send us a message for more information.

Bing Ads: Are They Worth the Trouble?

While Google is the most popular search engine on the web, believe it or not, a pretty good amount of people use other search engines as well. One of these is Bing.

If you're advertising your goods or services online using paid search marketing, also known as pay per click (PPC) advertising, then you may want to consider using Bing Ads for some of your efforts. Despite a lower user base, there are enough people using Bing to make it worth your while.

Bing also offers some advantages for advertisers compared to Google.

Below we'll tell you about some of the advantages of advertising with Bing and why it may just be worth the trouble after all.

1. Cheaper and Less Competitive

One of the best things about using Bing Ads is that not many other marketers are. This means that there will be less competition for you and it also means that Bing offers lower costs per click (CPC).

If you're a business that is advertising on a budget, then you'll likely find it much easier to manage your costs with Bing than you would with Google AdWords, which can sometimes be pretty pricey.

2. Higher Conversion Rates

Perhaps because Bing users are less computer savvy, higher conversion rates are common with Bing Ad campaigns as well. Users are more likely to click and convert on Bing Ads than with Google AdWords campaigns. Because of this, if you're serious about trying to optimize your conversion rates, then you may want to consider using Bing instead

This is a big benefit because even though there may not be as much traffic overall with Bing, the traffic that does see your ad will be more likely to convert or become a customer in the end.

3. Better Targeting Features

While Google AdWords does have quite a bit of targeting features and options for optimizing and tweaking campaigns there are places where Google could improve. Luckily, Bing picks up the slack exactly where many of the Google AdWords issues are.

For example, with Bing, you'll have much more control at both the campaign level and at the ad group level. You'll be able to target location, scheduling, language and network settings in both areas.

Additionally, with Bing, you'll also have more extensive options for choosing what devices to target and what search demographics you want your ads to be shown to. 

4. More Search Partner Control

With Bing, you'll also have more control over search partner settings. While Google gives you the option to show ads on search engine results pages (SERPs) only or on SERPS and search partners, Bing offers you the option to choose one or the other, or both.

This can be a huge plus for businesses who find that their ads fare well on search partner pages but not so well in search engine results.

5. A New Traffic Source

Another reason you may want to consider using Bing Ads in addition to Google AdWords is simply that it opens up new options for who you can target with your advertising campaigns.

Typically, the average internet user chooses a search engine and sticks with it. This means that if you've been running your ads on Google for a long time, many people will have likely seen your ad multiple times before. If you want to reach completely fresh faces, using Bing is a great way to do it since the audiences will overlap very little.

Deciding If Bing Ads Are Right For Your Business

While many businesses will want to use Google AdWords, there are cases where Bing Ads can make a good choice as well, particularly when used in conjunction with Google ads.

You'll want to consider the advantages listed above carefully when deciding if Bing is right for you. Make sure you do some testing and experimenting with both ad networks before you make the final call.

Looking for help with your eCommerce marketing strategy? Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

Google Ads Parallel Tracking: Does This Affect You?

What is Google Ads parallel tracking and does it affect your Adwords account?

Google has been sending out an email this week about the upcoming parallel tracking change to make sure everyone is prepared.  Since I've had multiple clients forward this email to me and ask about it, I wanted to explain what this is and which clients it affects.

Here is the email Google sent out:

Back in May this was first announced on the Google Ads blog.  A significant focus of Google in the past year is increasing page load time on mobile devices.  As web searches continue to shift towards mobile where internet speeds are lower Google has been focusing on doing what they can to increase page load times.  Accelerate Mobile Pages (AMP) is one way they have been working on this.  They have put together various data showing the impact each second of page load time has on conversion rate.  If you are interested in learning more Google built a mobile site speed tool that also estimates the revenue impact.

Beyond AMP another way they are increasing mobile page load time is parallel tracking.  This is strictly for advertisers that use a click measurement system.  This feature has been available for a few months, but as of October 30th all accounts will be automatically opted in.  The vast majority of Google ads advertisers are not using a click measurement system.  Most advertisers are using Google Analytics with Adwords auto-tagging where there is no tracking added manually.  Many use custom tracking for lead forms with Google's tracking template, but those are not affected by this either.  

If you are using a click measurement partner like a Sizmek, what happens when someone clicks your ad is that the there is a redirect which takes place.  This happens so fast in the background you will not actually see it.  When a user clicks the URL a page will load and redirect the user to your landing page.  The middle page that loads (which no one ever sees) records click information, but also can slow down the time it takes for the landing page to load.  Parallel tracking solves that issue by still allowing click trackers to work, but it loads the click tracking page at the exact same time the landing page loads instead of loading it before.

To get a better idea here are some visuals:

Most advertisers look like this:

Google ads parallel tracking view.png

If you're using a third-party click measurement system it might look like this:

With the upgraded parallel tracking, this then changes to this:

Google ads parallel tracking view 3.png

Check out the Adwords developer section here for more information if you are interested https://developers.google.com/adwords/api/docs/guides/click-tracking

For our clients that are using a click measurement partner, we have already reached out to you about this separately.  For those that have not heard from us, you are not affected by this.

If you are not a client of ours and would like to know if this affects you, send us a message with an existing Google Ads URL and we will tell you and can assist with next steps.