Automatic Bidding vs. Manual Bidding: What’s Best for Your Business?
“What’s best for my account, automatic bidding or manual bidding?”
I’m Michael Shore, the SEM manager at Bruce Clay, Inc., and it’s a question our PPC team hears all the time. The answer? It depends!
Most people do not like hearing that answer. Trust me, I wish I had a more definitive answer, but it really does depend on many factors. Before I continue, we all must accept one of the universal truths of PPC management — every client is unique. What works for one client may not work for another. This applies to almost every aspect of a PPC campaign, especially bid and budget management.
What I can provide is a detailed explanation of automatic bidding and manual bidding, and a detailed look at the pros and cons of each. This guide can help you make a more informed decision when it comes to deciding which is the right option for your business.
What is Automatic Bidding?
Automatic bidding is the process of allowing a rule or algorithm to control ad group and/or keyword-level bids based on performance and goals.
Automatic Bidding Pros
- Automatic bidding can save you a lot of time by taking over the bulk of bid and budget control.
- It’s usually ideal for large, complex accounts.
- If utilized correctly, it can be very effective in managing campaign budgets in addition to bids.
- It can adjust for the ad marketplace’s high frequency of change. For example, BCI’s CPA Optimizer bid and budget management tool makes adjustments every 30 minutes throughout the day, 24/7 — something a human cannot easily do.
- The more data, the better. Automated tools love data, as they are able to make more absolute and efficient changes.
Automatic Bidding Cons
- Automatic bidding is not truly “automatic.” It still requires an experienced human to oversee everything and make sure nothing goes haywire. A tool is only as good as the person controlling it.
- There’s a lack of flexibility at times. Depending on the tool you’re using, it could take some time and effort to onboard new campaigns, change budget allocations or goals.
- The more data, the better. Wait, isn’t this also listed under “Pros”? If you are managing a small account with very low volume (say, less than one conversion per day on average), automatic bidding may not be the best option for you. (See manual bidding.)
Keep in mind that not all automatic bidding tools are created equal. Each have their own intricacies. For example, some tools make rule-based decisions, while others utilize algorithms. Some automated tools update bids and budgets once per day, others (like our CPA Optimizer) do it 48 times per day.
What is Manual Bidding?
Are you starting to see a pattern here? As the name suggests, manual bidding is the process of adjusting bids and budgets the good ole’ fashioned way – by hand!
Manual Bidding Pros
- You maintain complete control over bids and budgets.
- Changes can be made on the fly.
- It’s typically sufficient for smaller accounts (smaller keyword sets, budgets, etc.).
- There’s no extra investment needed for a third-party tool.
Manual Bidding Cons
- It may not be the best option for larger, complex accounts with large keyword lists and budgets.
- It takes time away from other important account management tasks.
What’s Best for Your Business?
So what’s the best choice for your business? It depends. You must take into account client goals, resources available, account size, competition and other factors in order to determine the right bidding strategy. Regardless of whether you choose automatic or manual bidding, you must have a process in place that is tailored to either one, ensuring you are in the best position to achieve your campaign goals.
Have a question about automatic bidding and manual bidding? Talk about it with our PPC specialists in the comments.