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Google Helps Advertisers Improve AdWords Bid Strategies

Are you an AdWords advertiser? Were your sales down compared to last year’s Black Friday shopping period? With time running out on the 2015 holiday season, Google brings some extra information to help boost your automated bid performance.

Google revealed three new reporting features for automated AdWords bid performance. Ecommerce pros who found their ad campaigns returning less than stellar Black Friday results may find a needed edge among those.

“It’s still important to keep an eye on your bid strategies and know when they need steering,” Jonathan Wang wrote at Inside AdWords. One feature, status annotations, provides some suggestions. One status tells how much longer a given ad campaign needs to “learn” before an advertiser should consider making changes to their keywords or ad groups.

This may be counter-intuitive to a mindset where someone makes continual ongoing tweaks to a campaign. The learning annotation might urge patience while one’s instinct and experience says otherwise.

Another piece of interesting status annotation information tells the advertiser if, in Google’s opinion, a bid strategy limits itself. A strategy showing up for a marketer as “Limited (bid limits)” suggests how one’s impressions and keywords might be held back by a campaign’s maximum bid limit.

Naturally, the way to fix this is to give Google more money. Depending on the size of a given advertiser’s business and ad budget, that may not be the best course of action. Noted online advertising authority Larry Kim, founder of WordStream, discussed this with EcommerceBytes.

“Suppose the new bid management reporting tool said that a small advertiser’s bid strategy was in “Limited (bid limits)” status for 72% of keywords due to a maximum bid constraint – implying you should raise the keyword bids. But this might not even matter for an SMB if their ad budget was say, $250/month or less – since the remaining 28% of keywords that weren’t limited due to keyword bids might be more than enough to soak up a relatively small budget,” said Kim.

While in Kim’s opinion the new insights may not be applicable to an SMB, he did credit the new status annotations, saying they “unquestionably provide far greater insight into how Google’s Automated Bid algorithms actually work.” He thinks such “granular bid management insight is more targeted towards advanced users of AdWords with larger monthly budgets.”

Google’s other reporting features, status over time reporting and target over time reporting, provide reference points for advertisers. Both features deliver historical views that should help an AdWords user understand where they did or didn’t respond effectively to their campaign performances.

Those online sellers who found their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales performance disheartening likely have a lot of company. Data cited by researchers at Ipsos claims shoppers spent much less during the Thanksgiving holiday period. This could represent an opportunity to reach some impulse shoppers later in the shopping season with some tweaks to their ad campaigns.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.