PPC Bidding Strategies

Since launching AdWords (now Ads) in 2002, Google have developed the platform to offer a wide range of PPC bidding strategies to meet the marketing objectives of a wide variety of advertisers. Here we look at a number of current strategies offered.


Google segments the bidding strategy options into four groups:

  • Conversion strategies
  • Traffic strategies
  • Brand Awareness strategies
  • Video Advertising strategies

Conversion Strategies

Google offers a number of conversion focused strategies called Smart bidding. These use conversion data to optimise the maximum CPC. This works well for e-commerce marketers looking to track cost-per-sale and compare to other channels. Conversions could be sales, sign-ups or completion of any given call to action. Automated bidding and machine learning is used to provide 4 smart bidding strategies:

  • CPA – select a tolerable maximum acquisition cost then let Ads determine the CPC to generate the required number of clicks for a conversion based on your cost-per-acquisition threshold. For example you could set a conversion limit of £8 per conversion and bidding would be automatically varied to drive sufficient clicks based on your historic click to conversion ratios
  • ROAS – will vary bidding price in order to meet a defined conversion value based on a ratio of ad spend to the conversion metric. For example you could require a £40 conversion value from £5 in ad spend. Google Ads will then monitor conversion values against the requested percentage threshold
  • Maximum Conversions – this strategy doesn’t limit the cost of a conversion like the CPA model, instead it varies bidding to generate as many conversions for the available budget
  • Enhanced CPC – an optional feature to regular CPC bidding to increase for conversions automatically

Traffic Strategies

For those advertisers that don’t need to optimise for conversions, but still need to drive clicks, Ads offers 2 bidding traffic focused strategies:

  • Maximise Clicks – your daily budget will be exhausted to drive as many clicks as possible with Ads determining the CPC
  • Manual CPC Bidding – sets a maximum cost-per-click at ad group and keyword level for maximum control. We would typically begin with this strategy to set baselines for click and conversion tolerance before looking to move to an automated strategy later in the campaign

Brand Awareness Strategies

For advertisers that don’t need to focus on either clicks or conversions, Google offers 4 impression based strategies for maximising brand visibility:

  • Search Page Location – providing visibility in a prominent position on each page for that keyword phrase
  • Outrank Share – an automated strategy to buy a position above a competitor ad or to trigger your ad when the competitor ad doesn’t appear
  • CPM – a cost per thousand impression model for ads shown on either the Content Network or YouTube
  • vCPM – good for awareness raising on the Content Network, set a ceiling price for CPM

Video Advertising

Advertisers can pay for video views using Google’s CPV strategy:

  • CPV – cost per view is a model based on payment when a video is viewed or a link within a video is clicked, a maximum CPV is set although it could be charged less based on the auction, Quality Score and Ad Rank

In all cases a clear understanding of your advertising goals is essential to choose the right PPC bidding strategies for your business. We have worked with Google Ad since 2002 and can help you meet your paid search marketing goals.