Smart Bidding: A 2020 Digital Marketing Essential

27th Apr 2020

Digital marketing has undergone somewhat of a revolution in the last two or so years, with increased competition to capture target audiences who are growing evermore sceptical making the race to win their attention a heated one, to say the least.

In particular, organic reach and engagement are harder and harder to achieve on social media channels – a glut of ‘influencers’, a raft of marketing-speak content and too many outlandish attempts to ‘be unique’ have created a cacophony of digital noise in which it’s difficult to make oneself heard.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – Google’s Automated Bidding has played a huge part in helping digital marketers simplify their campaign both from a strategy and execution perspective, with automation tools such as Maximise Clicks, Target Impression Share, Tarte Cost per Acquisition (CPA), Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), Maximise Conversions and Conversion Value guiding marketers through simple steps to achieve their goals.

The next step in the evolution: Smart Bidding

Whilst automated bidding strategies- those in the list above- will help you define, set up and manage campaigns more effectively, a fair bit of the process remains at your discretion.

For example, you will still choose how, where and when to spend your budget, within the campaign goals and parameters you choose.

And generally, this means taking a somewhat ‘shotgun’ approach – allocating budget and hoping that the majority of the money is spent more or less on the goal at hand. In truth, achieving a level of granularity that optimises the results takes a lot of experience, trial and error and time.

Smart Bidding solves this exact set of problems by adding the power of advanced machine learning to tailor your bids (the maximum amount you’re prepared to pay to win your desired goal) to each and every auction (user) you’re trying to win over.

Gone with the shotgun, enter the sniper rifle!

As Google puts it, “Machine learning algorithms train on data at a vast scale to help you make more accurate predictions across your account about how different bid amounts might impact conversions or conversion value.”

This means, in effect, that marketers are able to set up their campaigns, but instead of manually managing budgets and allocations, Smart Bidding takes over to optimise spend at a completely granular level by using historical search and contextual data to predict the likelihood of a conversion and increasing your bid at that precise point.

Smart Bidding has been available since the middle of 2019, but it’s really now, in 2020, with the increased ‘noise’ in the digital marketing space, that the tool is truly coming into its own.

There are five key strategies that Smart Bidding impacts, including:

  • Optimising bids to maximise conversions
  • Optimising bids to ensure you achieve your Target ROAS
  • Optimising bid spend to maintain your Target CPA
  • Sets bids to maximise your ad at the top of the page, and therefore your Target Impression Share.
  • Optimises your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) spend to maximise conversions.

Weighing up the pros & cons

There are some significant advantages to using Smart Bidding, but also some things you ought to be aware of, as follows:


  • Time efficiency
  • Lightens the maintenance of campaigns
  • Accesses huge amounts of data and can make decisions in a fraction of the time a human would take, with far greater accuracy.
  • Affordable digital automation


  • You’re not able to view or control the data used to make the decisions
  • It will take time for Google’s machine learning algorithms to learn how to optimist for your specific business
  • You have less control over the spend of your budget (although you maintain control of the overall amounts spent)

Should you consider using Smart Bidding?

If you’re a small or mid-sized business with a limited budget and experience with digital marketing, then any tools that simplify the setup, management and efficiency of your marketing campaigns make sense.

Digital marketing has simple aims: increase Awareness, Traffic, Engagement and Conversions. These should be at the core of any good marketing strategy, and if Smart Bidding helps you achieve better results and a bigger bang for your buck, then this really is a great starting point.

To find out more about how to plan, set-up and manage digital marketing campaigns that really add value to your bottom line,contact our friendly staff today or email

Realnet is an established Cambridge digital agency, we have been helping all sorts of organisations with their online presence since 1998. From website design and ecommerce to digital marketing and PPC campaigns.

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