WaterRower

Smart vs Manual Bidding Strategies

Bidding strategies that produce the best results for clients

Over the past few years, Google has undertaken a drive to encourage the implementation of Smart bidding strategies in campaigns. Widely expected to improve overall performance and meet specific targets, Smart bidding exemplifies what marketeers have been calling for to accompany the automation trend. However, Trafiki Ecommerce has conducted research into a range of bid strategies and found that Manual bidding consistently produces the best results for clients. Read on to find out more.

Whilst bid strategies have been around for years, both within Google and third-party bid management platforms, the new ‘Smart’ bidding looks at a greater range of signals and uses machine learning technology to optimise across every auction your ad is eligible for. 

Upon first glance, the case for choosing Smart bidding is more convincing than Manual; promising improved performance whilst saving time, why wouldn’t you want a smart machine to make relevant and informed bidding decisions for every eligible search? 

Well, in short, Google does not always make the best recommendations. Trafiki Ecommerce’s research has shown that whilst the manual optimisation process can take longer, its superior results make any extra time spent worthwhile. We believe individuals who are obtaining better results through Smart bidding may not be Manual bidding in an efficient way.  

Below are the results of four accounts where Trafiki Ecommerce has switched from Smart to Manual bidding. They each evidence significantly improved performance results. 

Account 1

Month Impr. Clicks CTR Avg. CPC  Cost  Conversions  CPL 
May 19 – Apr 20 1,133,378 12,755 1.13% £1.73  £22,074.34  765  £28.87 
May 20 – Apr 21 114,682 7,462 6.51% £3.52  £26,296.01  1,684  £15.61 
YOY -90% -41% 478% 104% 19% 120% -46%
May 21 – July 21 32,050 2,164 6.75% £3.08  £6,659.96  539 £12.36 

Account 2

Month Impr. Clicks CTR Avg. CPC  Cost  Conversions  CPL 
May 19 – Apr 20 2,279,462 27,313 1.20% £1.98  £54,205  2,247  £24.13 
May 20 – Apr 21 2,398,359 29,924 1.25% £2.24  £67,060  4,252  £15.77 
YOY 5% 10% 4% 13% 24% 89% -35%
May 21 – July 21 334,826 7,378 2.20% £2.46  £18,175  1,171 £15.52 

Account 3

Month Impr. Clicks CTR Avg. CPC  Cost  Conversions  CPA 
May 19 – Apr 20 2,500,320 28,971 1.16% £2.66  £76,956 1,349  £57.07 
May 20 – Apr 21 188,770 13,693 7.25% £3.71  £50,767 2,532  £20.05 
YOY -92% -53% 526% 40% -34% 88% -65%
May 21 – July 21 50,135 3,709 7.40% £3.50  £12,993.20  752 £17.29 

Account 4

Month Impr. Clicks CTR Avg. CPC  Cost  Conversions  CPA 
Mar – May 2021 9,955,230 137,475 1.38% £0.40  £54,860 872 £62.94 
June – Aug 2021 12,625,546 118,108 0.94% £0.56  £66,141 1,472 £44.92 
YOY 27% -14% -32% 40% 21% 69% -29%

To find out for yourselves, we urge you to test out different bid strategies on your campaigns. If the results from Smart bidding strategies emerge stronger than Manual, we encourage you to re-test Manual bidding over a certain amount of time. The more Google learns about which keywords perform better while you have Smart bidding running, the more they will increase bids and spend which will result in higher CPCs and CPAs. Unless Smart bidding clearly produces better results for clients, we strongly recommend you to favour Manual bidding.

Manual vs Smart bidding, what is your preferred strategy and why? We would love to hear your opinions on, and experiences of using bidding strategies.