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Top of Page bid strategy - no clear explanations

Follower ✭ ✭ ☆
# 1
Follower ✭ ✭ ☆

I've always used manual bidding for everything but recently started exploring bid strategies, in particular "Top of Page". The support docs seem to explain things clearly, but in actual practice I don't think the explanations are thorough enough. Moreover, I've called support twice; first time with some initial questions, the help person was able to answer, but the second time, when I had more specific questions, the person knew even less and was clearly just reading a script.

 

Here's my situation. with Top of Page bid strategy enabled, I see a few kw's with Max bids much lower than what the first page bid is. Most of the kw's in this particular campaign are in the $40-45 range. From what I can tell, the first place ads are biding well over $50. So for these few kw's the "bid strategy" seems to have set the max bids to around $15-20 for these kw's. The other kw's have bids that look reasonable. Makes no sense to me and support gave me no good answer. I think the strategy has been in "not limited" mode for a couple weeks at least, so I'm assuming this is some kind of bug.

 

The more important question for me is, how does using this bid strategy differ from just setting a really high max bid? Let's say, for example, competitors were bidding up to $60 for these kw's. If I set my max bid to $60 or even $65, why wouldn't that achieve the same thing as using  the "bid strategy"? Obviously I would need to monitor this closely to make sure I'm getting worthwhile clicks, but I really don't see what's the difference between manually setting this and using the "bid strategy" to accomplish it. Can anyone give me a good explanation? And yes, I understand the "top of page" is not guaranteed and that final bids and placement is dependent on QS, etc. Thank you for any help

2 Expert replyverified_user

Top of Page bid strategy - no clear explanations

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

(1) generally, not-limited is the steady-state and indicates the machine has
learned enough and accumulated enough data to begin the strategy, and

the algorithm is free to bid/spend as it sees fit -- the strategy is active.

(2) the machine-learning algorithms are inexact and
google typically will not divulge any related details.

(3) if advertisers can do better than google's machine-learning algorithms,
and have the time, effort, and expertise to achieve the same similar goals,
on their own, then there is less or little need to use automated-bidding.

Top of Page bid strategy - no clear explanations

Follower ✭ ✭ ☆
# 3
Follower ✭ ✭ ☆

Thanks for your response. I understand that I can do better than any automated options Google offers (that probably goes for any options, not just bid strategy).

 

I think what I really want to know is why shouldn't I just bid really high if I want the best chance at ranking on the top of the page? Is there any downside (other than cost) to bidding way more than what I think others are bidding?

Top of Page bid strategy - no clear explanations

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

>>"I think what I really want to know is why shouldn't I just bid really high if I want the best chance at ranking on the top of the page?

Because AdWords is not only  bid  based  auction  system, but a "multi variable" auction system is which several parameters  are factored into the  ad-rank algorithm. So bidding high, though a parameter / factor for a high rank, is not the only parameter which plays a role.

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Top of Page bid strategy - no clear explanations

Follower ✭ ✭ ☆
# 5
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Yes, I understand there are other factors that determine which ad gets ranked high. My question is, "why not bid really high?" Is there any downside to this?

Top of Page bid strategy - no clear explanations

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

You could, but this is a risky move: for that you'll need also to increase the budget (because  the system calculates the number of impressions based on bids, among other factors). And if you  bid higher and the competitor bids higher, actual CPC will likely increase.

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Top of Page bid strategy - no clear explanations

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hey Tony! I think it really goes back to your goal. Is this a branded campaign where impression share matters and you need visibility at the top? Then I would recommend bidding high and increasing your budgets--but monitoring spend very closely and adjusting accordingly. If your goal is conversion or CPA focused I wouldn't recommend this strategy. 

 

However, going back to your first post. I have also seen where that bidding strategy bids too low and the keywords can't rank on the first page. I don't have a lot of faith in the position based bidding strategies from AdWords, but wonder if the bid is changing more often than we're able to look at it and there's reasons (i.e. time of day) that affect this.  

Top of Page bid strategy - no clear explanations

Badged Google Partner
# 8
Badged Google Partner

Is "top of page" still an option? With the target search page location automated bidding option, the official explanation is:

 

"With target search page location, AdWords automatically sets your bids to increase the chances that your ads appear at the top of the page or on the first page of search results."

 

I think the "or" part of the automated strategy may explain what you are seeing. Google is still trying to get you more bang for your buck, and if your impression share is limited by budget, Google could be reducing the bids of some terms to try and achieve your overall goal. If you can get to the "top" of the page with more terms/impressions, some of your terms may be bid down because they are less likely to generate a top of the page impression within your budget.

 

If you want to be in total control, then manual max CPC bidding is the only way to go. If you use any kind of automated bidding then you have to adapt to the limitations of that auto bidding strategy. If you want to use any type of auto bidding, then your campaign structure may have to be changed to best utilize that bidding strategy. Adgroups that work with max CPC may not work as well with automated bidding, so you will have to optimize your structure for that bidding strategy.

Tom

Top of Page bid strategy - no clear explanations

Follower ✭ ✭ ☆
# 9
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Yes, "top of page" seems to be an option, the other being "anywhere on first page"

 

Anyway, thanks to everyone for their input. I don't know that I can accept any one answer as the solution to my question, but everyone gave acceptable input. I think the reason is because no one actually knows much about this automated bid strategy, including Google reps, as I mentioned.

 

Overall, as most of you noted, manual bidding is the way to go, which I have always used. I was just trying to figure out why this option is there, what it really does, and is it effective. After letting it run for a few weeks my conclusion is that it's not very smart. Some bids seem to adjust fine, others are way off. If the machine needs this long to get it right, there's no reason to trust it, at least in any industry where things may fluctuate.

 

So to answer my own question, it's a poorly implemented plan to automate bids. If you really want to just "set it and forget it" you'll either make Google rich, or not get yourself good results. Probably both.