All Your Bids Are Belong To Us

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These days you have many campaign bidding options for PPC search ads in Google, Bing, and Yahoo advertising platforms. New bidding models have graduated well beyond simply setting your max keyword bids. As of the past year or so, marketers have the option to relinquish control over keyword bids and let artificial intelligence look for cues on which search query is the best fit for a visit to your website, a conversion (however you define it), a threshold for cost-per-acquisition, or to reach a specific Return-On-Ad-Spend (ROAS) goal.

Enhanced Cost-Per-Click (eCPC) bidding has been around for a while but now we see an expansion of new smart bidding options geared towards adjusting bids in real-time – goal being to grab a desired share of search impressions by optimizing bids towards times and demographics that convert or drive website traffic the most, or even serving your ad over a specific competitor. This A.I. looks at various persona demographics and device statistics to determine the search queries that are more likely to convert, then adjusts bids to maximize the opportunity for successful. These search engines are unveiling more and more smart bidding options to meet various marketing objectives, but they all have one thing in common – giving up some control of your keyword bidding to search engine artificial intelligence.

Whether you’re an early adopter or an A.I. skeptic, we’re starting to find that these smart bidding options are changing the PPC game. Those who fail to adapt find that trying to stay competitive against those who are using smart bidding is like the Terminator trying to kill T-1000 – Both are strong, but the T-1000 has the ability to adapt to its environment to achieve its goals, while the Terminator uses more of a blunt force method. How can one get their ad out in front of the right audience at the right time if a competitor has enough variance over their keyword bids to be aggressive and edge you out in real-time? In the past, we had been able to dig into data and unearth these revelations. Now that legislation is underway to protect users’ personal data from 3rd parties, search engine companies have to find a way to provide demographic data to advertisers without sharing too much. A.I. is here to bridge the gap by absorbing these insights and applying them in search auctions in real-time. Personal data stays contained between the user and the search engine, and marketers can meet their goals.

For marketers this can be very exciting since putting bidding strategy on autopilot can help streamline K.P.I. goals and allow resources to shift focus to other areas of the account that need optimization. There is a bit of a learning process for these bidding strategies, which makes it very important to allow some leeway for the timeliness of your expected goals. The A.I. needs to gather data on who converts or visits your website in order to optimize for conversions or clicks.  In some rare cases, it seems there are some misinterpretations of the users’ search intents. For this reason it’s critical to keep a vigilant eye on campaign performance, especially for the first couple months.

There is a price to pay for some smart bidding models. For example, asking the search engine to gather a bigger slice of the impression share pie might result in a loss of ad position, or setting a desired cost-per-acquisition could result in a lower impressions share. Looking to 2019 will be an exciting time to see how these smart bidding models grow in both complexity and efficiency. I’m especially hopeful that we see a way to use smart bidding options without sacrificing other valuable metrics.

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