Not that long ago, I was asked by the good folks at WordStream to contribute to their PPC article about Automated AdWords Bidding. I fully admit then when they first broached the question for me to answer, my first thought was:

automated adwords

Image credit: Steven Hodson



















I couldn’t get away with sending this answer, so I developed my feelings a bit for publication…

Todd Mintz wordstream

Strangely enough, I’m now using Automated AdWords bidding for the first time ever and it’s working for me. I’ll explain…

I have a client that I work with that has very strict CPA targets based upon signups. They have wonderful, high-converting landing pages but an “awful” (their word, not mine) mobile experience. If you were to look at their landing page on your phone, you would likely concur with me that any mobile campaign would be a waste.

However, we’re in their “slow” season, so I was looking for ways to make up for some of the seasonally lost volume. I turned on “brand” for mobile and realized that it converted at comparable rates to “brand” on Desktops/Tablets. Not entirely surprising, but it did enforce the notion that a poor landing-page experience won’t deter the customer if they already know the merchant.

Then, I decided to see how well I could do with their various verticals for mobile. Now, almost all the client campaigns have run on CPA bidding for a very long time, so I didn’t have recent non-mobile keyword bids to look at. Sure, I could look at keyword CPCs and try to base bids off of that, but that would be pure guesswork on my part, and I didn’t want to take that tack.

Furthermore, my initial foray into mobile wasn’t about trying to maximize mobile lead generation. Instead, my goal was just to generate as many cheap leads as possible from the campaign. I didn’t necessarily know where the leads would come from…but it really didn’t matter at this stage. Sure, as I got more data, I could then try to optimize the campaign better for performance, but until the client developed a quality mobile landing page experience, I couldn’t really work the mobile channel in the way I normally work my campaigns.

As I was formulating my strategy for them, I remembered how I “slagged” Automated AdWords bidding and realized that it ultimately was my best “plan of attack” for my client. I decided to let AdWords maximize the number of clicks for my budget. I would set my Max CPC at a really low number, which I would slowly raise until the CPA numbers for the campaign got close to my target CPA.

My strategy is working well. My client has a new source of “found” leads that they hadn’t been able to access before. Once I get a baseline for how many leads they might expect for this process, I can help project how many more leads they might get with an “ideal” mobile landing page. 2x? 3x? 4x? More?  Not sure, but it could be substantial.

Automated Bidding was one of several Google product features that I’ve viewed as totally useless. Perhaps I prejudged unfairly? Maybe I just needed to see them in the proper context.

But still, when thinking about AdWords Express, I say:

Image credit: AJ Kohn
















Todd Mintz, Senior SEM Manager


  1. Terry Whalen April 17th, 2012

    nice image from AJ, heh.

  2. Nonameman August 2nd, 2012

    Hahaha. I think everyone in the PPC game thinks that of Adwords Express. In my opinion it was created to overcharge small businesses that don’t know or can’t afford better. “So what you’re saying is that Google can’t create an algorithm that optimizes it’s own algorithm?!” Totally believable!

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Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz, who has been with 3Q Digital since March 2011, has worked in search engine marketing since 2000 and has used Google AdWords since it began. He also is very visible in the SEM social media space and is a curator/contributor at MarketingLand. He was one of the founding members of SEMpdx (Portland’s Search Engine Marketing Group), is a current board member, and writes regularly on their blog.