A key facet of a paid media analyst’s job is to optimise accounts to ensure they’re performing at their best while maximising efficiencies. As part of the fast-paced and everchanging landscape of the industry, we need to consider a larger number of variables when optimising bids, budgets, landing pages and ad copy towards a wide range of KPIs. At the same time keeping on top of all these tasks and KPIs across evolving and growing accounts is becoming increasingly challenging and time-consuming.
One of the key tools to help combat this is bidding. While it’s a basic point, this determines how much we pay for the traffic we drive. Historically, bidding has been one of the main tasks in an analyst’s day, however, there’s so much other work that needs to be done, so help was needed. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) driven optimisation tools, such as bid strategies, offer the opportunity to automate some of the manual dayto- day bid changes beyond basic keyword level, giving analysts the time they need to focus on driving strategy and growth.
What are bid strategies?
Bid strategies automate processes involved in optimising accounts, such as adjusting keyword bids and location, device and audience bid modifiers. They take learnings from previous campaign and keyword data within the bid strategy and factor in many influences that we can’t always see or consider when making manual optimisations.
They reprocess and modify keyword bids and demographic bid modifiers up to four times a day to ensure performance is maximised and efficiencies are met. Considering the number of keywords which can be processed, the number of data points considered and the frequency of the bid changes, it’s nearly impossible for an analyst to do this manually every day.
When the algorithm has gone through its learning phase (approximately 10 days), it will learn which times of day or week are more likely to drive conversions and will adjust bids during these times to maximise performance.
When the learning phase is complete, the strategies can be left to run and manage the daily optimisations of the account with minimal changes required by analysts. Changes shouldn’t be made more than once a week though, as the algorithm will need to relearn following changes to ensure it can work towards the new goal.
The more data within a bid strategy, the quicker the algorithm can learn and optimisations can be made with more efficiency and accuracy. Likewise, the more conversions which come through the bid strategy, the more accurately the algorithm can predict when a conversion will happen and bids can be adjusted accordingly.
With bid strategies automating optimisations, analysts have more time to grow their accounts by developing the overall strategy and researching and implementing new features.
There are several different targeting options available through bid strategies; the option you use depends on the overall KPI of an account or the set of campaigns and keywords.
- Ad position: This strategy will adjust bids on your keyword sets so that ads appear in the specific position you wish to target. This is a good goal to have for brand campaigns where top position and high visibility are a priority.
- Number of clicks: This strategy will find the optimum bids for driving the most traffic to site. It doesn’t take into account what actions are taken once a user has clicked on the ad, and instead only focuses on driving traffic through to site.
- ROI bid strategies :These strategies find the optimal bids for maximising the number of conversions or revenue generated on-site while maintaining a target cost per ad (CPA), effective revenue share (ERS) or return on ad spend (ROAS).
- Monthly spend strategies :These will spend a specified amount within a month; the algorithm adjusts to spend your budget evenly and exactly throughout the month while maximising conversions or revenue. This works best when monthly budgets are fixed and don’t vary considerably month-to-month.
The capabilities of bid strategies are constantly growing and evolving, with the learnings becoming increasingly accurate. Once you have bid strategies working correctly and are happy with their performance, you can then look to expand them to consider different attribution models as part of the optimisations.
What’s important to note is that you can’t just ‘set and forget’. We all use the automations at our disposal to improve performance and speed in our accounts, however it’s important to intervene when needed. Ensure you keep a close eye on your campaigns and manually adjust when necessary, rather than completely relying on the algorithms.
While bid strategies are key to optimising accounts, they’re not the only tool at our disposal. There are plenty of other tools available to ensure the success of our accounts, including:
- Search Query Reports (SQRs), which allow us to identify search terms which are wasting spend and exclude them from the account, as well as picking up new, relevant search terms to add as keywords.
- Budget management, which allows us to control where and when we focus our investment; this can be done on an individual campaign level, or shared across multiple campaigns as you see fit for your activity.
- Breaking out highperforming keywords into their own campaign can help focus budgets.
- Adjusting and optimising various campaign settings and rotations.
- Using modifiers to adjust bids based on device, audience, demographic, and geolocation.
With all this in mind, it’s clear that optimising on a daily basis is vital for campaign health, efficiency, and efficacy. From bid strategies to SQRs, we have the tools and techniques to not only meet our business objectives, but also exceed them, and what’s key is to strike that balance between technology and human intervention, ensuring that you’re always maximising the potential of your account. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some optimising to do...
Natasha Hole, paid media analyst, Greenlight Digital