27th August 2020

How to maximise your Google smart bidding strategy

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Eleanor Hourston
Search Manager
Read time: 7min
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Automation is now an integral part of running digital marketing campaigns and with the development of sophisticated AI technology, smart bidding should be a fundamental part of everyone's paid search strategy, but it's complicated, right?

We’re a sharing and caring lot at equimedia so we thought we’d share our top tips and hints on how to get the best out of the technology, but each account is different so to get the best tailored strategy and set up, please get in touch today. We’d love to hear from you!

We’ll give you some invaluable insights on the following but this information is really just the tip of our expertise iceberg so if you’d like to know more we’re here to help:

  • Portfolio bid strategies
  • Bid strategy reports
  • Audience best practises with smart bidding
  • Smart creative solutions
  • Recommendations page
  • Smart bidding with Microsoft Advertising

Portfolio smart bidding strategies

Portfolio bidding allows you, as an advertiser, to group several campaigns together that have the same goal and set one overall bid strategy target. The algorithm will then consolidate the data and adjust the bidding across all these campaigns to achieve the goal you set.

You may find that some of the campaigns in the strategy will not necessarily be hitting the goal as a single entity. However, the strategy will aim to achieve your goal as a collective across the selected campaigns.

Portfolio bidding works best when you are using shared budgets, you have a similar goal across multiple campaigns, and you want to efficiently share the budgets to maximise performance. In fact, when using a shared budget, for some bid strategies such as maximise conversions, it is only possible to use a portfolio bid strategy. They are also useful when you have a number of low volume campaigns with a shared goal as these can be consolidated under the same strategy which allows a larger pool of data for the strategy to learn from and set the correct bids.

Top Tip: Whenever you are analysing results of a bidding strategy, remember to look at the correct metrics and bear in mind what success looks like. The table below gives a quick overview of what to look for when evaluating a conversion-based strategy:

Bid strategy report

The Google ads bid strategy report is a great place to check in on how your smart bidding strategies are performing. It is a little hidden so the best way to navigate to it is by bringing the “bid strategy type” column in the Google Ads UI and clicking on the name of the bid strategy you want to analyse. This works for individual strategies as well as portfolios.

The bid strategy report allows you to view how your campaign or portfolio of campaigns are performing against the target. This can be seen in the overall stats as in the example below, or in the chart.

The report also allows you to view the status of your strategy including the length of the initial learning period, when the strategy may have gone back into learning due to any changes that were made, any issues with your strategy (such as being limited by budget) as well as if there is a potential delay in your conversions being reported (called a conversion lag) which could affect the results reported in that date range.

Top tip: If you are using a Target strategy such as TCPA or TROAS, it is best to view your results over a 30-day window (excluding your conversion lag) as this is the length of time that the strategies use to evaluate the performance.


Utilising audiences for your paid search campaigns is just as important as it is in display and social campaigns to ensure you are showing your ads to the right user at the right time. When utilising smart bidding in your campaigns, signals from Google-hosted audiences such as in-market segments, affinity audiences and detailed demographics are automatically considered when applying bids.

However, it is important that you also give smart bidding insight into users who fall into first party audiences. To do this you will need to associate audiences such as customer match lists, website visitors and GA-hosted RLSAs with all your search campaigns (including DSA and Shopping) on “observation” at campaign level. The smart bidding strategies will then have all the data it needs to aim for the right audiences to achieve your marketing goal.

Top tips: Whilst the bidding strategies will automatically consider users in Google-hosted audiences, if you want to specifically report on results for these audiences you will still need to associate them with the relevant campaigns.

Smart creative solutions

Alongside your smart bidding strategies, making good use of smart creatives is a great way to get the best out of your paid search investment. Here is a brief overview of some of the best automated creative solutions:

  • Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs)

This type of ad uses a crawl of your website to identify searches that your current keywords may not be matching to and dynamically generating the most relevant headlines and landing page based on the content from the site.

Results: Compared to generic activity when testing this on a client we drove a 30% lower CPA, +52% stronger CTR and +45% higher ROI


  • Responsive Ads

RSAs and RDAs (Responsive Search Ads and Responsive Display Ads) are automated ad solutions which dynamically test combinations of your headlines, descriptions and images to show on the Google Search and Display networks respectively. These ads are particularly useful to drive incremental traffic and conversions.

Results: Responsive Search Ads (RSAs): Up to +10% more clicks and conversions when using with Expanded Text Ads (Google data)

Results: Responsive Display Ads (RDAs): +50% more conversions when used alongside HTML5/Image Ads (Google data)

Smart shopping campaigns use your product feed and assets along with Google’s machine learning to test different combinations to show the most relevant product ads across networks including Google Search Network, the Google Display Network, YouTube and Gmail. Results: When testing it for a retail client, we use smart shopping to drive an +80% growth in sales. See the full case study here.

The recommendations page is a fantastic way to get top level Google best practise advice with an easy “one-click” implementation option. Your account is valued using the optimisation score and each recommendation comes with an estimate of how it can improve this score. Recommendations can be found at account and campaign level and have been recently added to editor making it easier than ever to implement the changes.

Top Tip: Dismissing recommendations that are not applicable to your account and business is just as important as accepting changes as this allows the automated system to show more tailored recommendations in the future.

Microsoft Advertising smart bidding

Whilst smart bidding strategies are primarily thought to be used for Google Ads, they are also available for MSA, too. The strategies available are similar to Google and are as follows:

  • Enhanced CPC: aimed to adjust the bid to get more conversions
  • Maximise clicks: automatically set bids to get the most clicks for the budget
  • Maximise conversions: automatically set bids to get the most conversions
  • Target CPA: automatically set bids to get conversions at a specific CPA.

Whilst they work in a similar way to Google’s algorithm, the products are still relatively new and there are still conversion volume requirements for the maximise conversions and Target CPA strategies, which is no longer the case with Google.

To read more about the different AI technologies that are available as well as a deep dive into the smart bidding strategies, best practise tips and a guide to identify which strategy is right for you then you can take a look at our previous blog series for more information:






If you would like help getting started with Google Smart Bidding or want to improve your current strategy then please get in touch below: