How to Prepare for Artificial Intelligence in Advertising with Google Smart Bidding

How to prepare for AI in advertising with Google Smart bidding

How to Prepare for AI in Advertising – Part Two

This is part two of our two-part series discussing how to prepare for artificial intelligence in advertising. Keep reading or go back to part one and learn about Google Smart Creatives now.

Now that we’ve learnt about Google Smart Creatives it’s time to take a look at the other main artificial intelligence offering from Google Ads – Smart Bidding.

Bidding is something which a lot of us digital marketers spend a lot of time doing. Sure it’s important, but is it always worth it? Does every micro-bid adjustment we do pay-off?

As a big believer in the law of diminishing returns, I often ask myself this question.

With Smart Bidding, Google is offering to take this manual labour out of our hands, not only saving us time better spent on strategy, but also improving results. Can it be true?

Well, let’s take a look at what they’re offering before we decide. And remember, even if you tried Smart Bidding a year ago and were disappointed it’s a lot different, and some would say a lot better, today. So, hold your judgement and keeping reading.


Smart Bidding Strategies

Before you start using Google Smart Bidding you need to decide on the right automated bidding strategy for your business. Here are the current options:

Maximize Conversions & Maximize Conversion Value

‘Maximise Conversions’ will get as many conversions as possible within a specified budget. It’s available for search or display campaigns with a low or no conversion history.

You should be careful of selecting this strategy if you’re not regularly using your daily budget as it’s designed to use your entire budget so you may get an unwelcome surprise.

‘Maximise Conversion Value’ is a variation of this strategy allowing you to not only focus on the number of conversions but also maximise the value of those conversions. This is a good choice if you have conversions of different values within one campaign.

To select this strategy you need values set for your conversions. Though you may be better off separating out campaigns which are targeting different value conversions.

Choose Maximise Conversions when . . . your campaigns have a high impression share, are constantly hitting their daily budget and you can’t afford to increase the budget.

Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

‘Target Cost Per Acquisition’ is designed to get as many conversions as possible at the cost which you’re willing to pay per conversion. CPA is available for search, display and video campaigns with little or no conversion history.

With CPA sometimes you pay more for a conversion and sometimes you pay less but it should average out at the bid you have set. Having said that you will need to set a realistic CPA for it to work – take a look at the Google recommended CPA.

These campaigns allow you to choose to pay either by the click or the conversion. There are various adjustments which you can add to CPA campaigns such as bid limits and device bid adjustments but for best results, you’re probably best leaving it to Google AI.

Choose Target CPA when . . . your goal is to get conversions, especially if those conversions aren’t value-based, such as lead form completion or newsletter sign-up.

Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

‘Target Return on Ad Spend’ allows you to set how much you want in return for your advertising spend. Target ROAS is available for search, display and video campaigns.

As with ‘Maximize Conversion Value’, for ROAS you need to first set conversion values.

In addition, ROAS requires search, display and video campaigns to have at least 15 conversions within the last month. Shopping campaigns should have 20 within 45 days.

However, double these numbers are recommended for the AI to be most effective.

Choose Target ROAS for . . . e-commerce businesses with large volumes of conversions who are looking for specific returns on investment.

Other Automated Bidding Strategies

The below four bidding strategies are not quite as exciting as those previously mentioned and are primarily designed for the time-poor advertiser.

‘Maximize Clicks’ is available for search and display campaigns. It uses Google AI to set your bids and help get as many clicks as possible within your daily budget.

‘Target Impression Share’ is only available on the search network. With this strategy, you decide what percentage of the time your ad appears at the top of the search results.

‘Target Outranking Share’ and ‘Target Search Page Location’ bidding are strategies available only for portfolio bidding which group a range of campaigns together.

Learn more about Google automated bidding strategies.

Conversion Tracking

The number one thing you need to do to ensure your Smart Bidding campaigns succeed is to make your conversion tracking bullet-proof. Even if you don’t go with Smart Bidding you’ll find that comprehensive conversion tracking will vastly improve your performance.


If you’re importing conversions from Google Analytics replace inaccurate destination-based conversion tracking with event tracking. Make sure you set values for your conversion, either automatically (online sales) or manually (lead generation forms).

Don’t stop there. Import sales and conversion data to give Google AI as much data as possible to work with. The more information you feed the machine the stronger it will be.

For businesses with long sales journeys, make sure to set conversions to the maximum conversion window and keep your audience engaged to keep their tracking cookies live.

Now, for the most exciting news (for us ;-).

Google now supports campaign-level conversion actions – rather than account-level. For Smart Bidding campaigns that don’t use the conversion value metric, this is big news. Smart Bidding has just got a lot more effective for businesses with multiple conversions.

So, if you have a business with lead and sales-based conversions you can now separately measure the leads for regular campaigns and the sales for your remarketing campaigns.

Whatever you do, don’t forget about your conversion tracking. If you don’t know what success looks like how do you expect Google to?



To experience the power of AI in advertising Smart Bidding is a strong choice. With power, of course, comes risk – primarily the risk of spending too much money.

To make Smart Bidding work for you make sure your conversion tracking is accurate and you have selected the right bidding strategy for the right campaign. After that is is all about experimentations. Don’t simply switch all your campaigns from CPC manual bidding to Smart Bidding. Set up experiments and test what is rights for you.

Even when you’re certain that automated bidding is doing its job don’t walk away. Keep monitoring your campaigns, look out for anomalies, adjust for seasonality – improve.

Google Smart Creatives and Smart Bidding is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Artificial Intelligence in advertising but they are a good place to start learning about AI.

In conclusion, AI when correctly applied has the power to vastly improve your advertising. Get started with artificial intelligence today so you won’t get left behind tomorrow.

How to Prepare for AI in Advertising:   Smart Creatives | Smart Bidding

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