Adwords Auction Insights – NOT a Bid Tool

Don’t get me wrong.  I love data.  I’m all for publishers giving advertisers as much transparency and control as possible.  Adwords Auction Insights is a great new tool and has very compelling keyword level competitive data that previously were not available. Several PPC folks have written some really good blog posts on what data is now available with Auction Insights and how to use it.  Perhaps I’ve become slightly cynical and untrusting of new features, “opportunities” and “enhancements” over the course of my 7 years in paid search management.  But… is it just me, or is anyone else feeling…hmmm, what’s the word?…manipulated by this new data.  For some reason, I don’t quite trust the auctioneer telling me details about the parties I’m bidding against, when the total take goes to the auctioneer. Now why would they do that?…

Yes, you should definitely analyze this new competitive data to gain insights for your top keywords or what you want your top keywords to be and monitor/trend this data over time. If you are not using a third party competitive monitoring tool, this new data is sheer bliss for data junkies. Impression share data at keyword level is super exciting, the overlap rates = outstanding, position above rates= pure data awesomeness, and top of page rates = totally righteous. I have to confess I spent several hours the first day Auction Insights was available and scoured through data for many keywords, with an appetitite to learn even more about my competition and about the auction.  Oh right, the auction…back to reality.

Please, please, please do not use it to decide to increase bids just because you simply hate Company X, Y, and Z and want to crush them. That’s what Google wants you to do and we’re all smarter than that, aren’t we?!?

I know I’m probably singing to the choir, but if you are using conversion tracking and there is virtually no excuse not to, you should be optimizing kw bids based on your company’s performance and target goals, and not increasing bids to hopefully (fingers crossed) increase your ad rank to beat a certain competitor on the SERP.  If you are not beating that competitor already and you feel you offer a better value proposition and higher relevancy for that query, then you need to try something else and don’t touch your bids to compensate for a bad landing page, poor quality score, or poorly performing ad copy. PPC takes effort, it’s not recommended to try to buy your way to the top, at least for a long term strategy.

Yes, we all like to say we are #winning, pat ourselves on the back, and annihilate the competition, but don’t be stupid about it and just bankroll Big G.  Seriously, you might have to look directly into the eyes of strong competition and pressure from HiPPOs and not back down.   In my opinion, it’s a tempting quick “fix” which is most likely unsustainable. Consider this warning especially if you are in any of the below keyword categories (Most Expensive KW categories in 2011 according to WordStream).

  1. Insurance
  2. Loans
  3. Mortgage
  4. Attorney
  5. Credit
  6. Lawyer
  7. Donate
  8. Degree
  9. Hosting
  10. Claim

G: “That’ll be $50 per click please.  Thank you very much.”  (yes, CLICK, not CPA, total INSANITY.)   I’m actually surprised they didn’t design a bid change field into the UI on the Auction Insights page (you have to go “Back to Keywords” to do that). Perhaps they are waiting until November when holiday competition really kicks in.

Optimize bids based on performance and your goals, not to just “beat” the competition.  Vanity/Ego bidding has always been a pet peeve of mine, I’ve gotten into some pretty heated discussions about it over the years.  Just don’t do it.  It’s not pretty and you’ll regret it in the morning.

I do think if you are seeing high positions and low impression shares, you need to investigate what else could be going on before you change bids.  I have been in some situations where bidding for impression share can make sense if you are already meeting performance targets, but that has been the exception rather than the rule.

Agree or disagree?  I would love to hear what you think about Adwords Auction Insights tool thus far, and specifically, about bidding.

Lisa Sanner About the author
  • Jon Lisbin

    Great article. We’ve all heard about big G’s aggressive profit goals, so I’m with you on motives.

    June 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm
  • Lisa, I totally agree with you. I’ve done regular consultancy work with one SME who argued until he was blue in the face that he had to be #1 and nothing else would do… Until he tried lowering his bids and realised that he got just as many conversions for a top 3 ranking but at a much lower CPA! Mostly I’m looking at it as a way to discover overlap with other businesses to help build out negative keyword lists.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:36 am
    • Lisa Sanner

      Yes, I had several similar discussions with some who were so convinced top position was worth it, no matter what the cost. Took time and patience to show differently. Great idea on the negatives – overlap rates between different business units is very useful discovery. Thanks Katie!

      June 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

Leave a Comment: