Which bidding strategy should I use?.

Chris Winn


This is one of the biggest questions around Google Ads right now, and has been ever since Google indicated its intention to move away from manual bidding. Rumour has it that 2022 will see the end of manual bidding altogether, which will force advertisers who haven’t done so already to embrace the black box that is Google’s Smart Bidding. However, there are so many options available that a lot of advertisers don’t know which one to pick! But don’t worry – we’re here to guide you through each of the options so you can work out which one’s best for your business. Here’s a quick run-down of the available options:

  • Maximise Clicks
  • Target Impression Share
  • Maximise Conversions
  • Target CPA
  • Maximise Conversion Value
  • Target ROAS

Maximise Clicks

Maximise clicks is pretty self explanatory – Google will bring us the most clicks it can within the budget that we set. Sounds great right? But wait, let’s think about this for a minute. We know that not all clicks are of equal value. A click on a generic keyword, for example, is not as valuable as a click on a highly qualified keyword. Clicks on desktop devices tend (yes, tend) to be more valuable than clicks on mobile and tablet devices, etc, etc. So if we tell Google to maximise clicks, what’s it going to do? It’s going to bring us the low quality, low cost traffic that no one else wants, right? Yes indeed. For this reason, we don’t see maximise clicks as a legitimate long term strategy for business growth. Next!

Target Impression Share

We’ve always found Target Impression Share to be a bit of an odd bidding strategy. Here, we give Google a percentage, and tell them to get our ad to appear X% of the time. As with maximise clicks, the way they do this must be to get our ads showing on the less competitive searches, which are most likely not the ones that are going to be most valuable to us. So, unless we have a specific reason for wanting to reach a certain percentage of our audience (for example, 100%), then we can’t see this being a useful strategy at all.

Maximise Conversions

Now we’re getting into the good stuff. Maximise conversions – this is what most advertisers want to do, right? Most companies have a budget in mind, and our job as an agency is to get them the most leads (or other conversion types) that we can from the budget, and with this bidding strategy, Google is helping us to do just that. If you have a fixed budget, and a conversion action (such as a lead) which are essentially of equal value, then this works great!

Target CPA

What about if you don’t have a set budget? If you know how much a lead is worth to your business, and your business has the capacity to serve more clients, then you can tell Google to keep bringing in leads as long as the CPA stays below a set level. This is great for companies that are looking to scale, and a strategy that we’ve seen work very well for some high growth brands. Big thumbs up for this one!

Maximise Conversion Value

For businesses whose conversions are not of equal value (for example an e-commerce website), it makes more sense to focus on conversion value (ie revenue) rather than the number of conversions (sales). Again, if you have a maximum budget, and you want to maximise the revenue generated from your budget, then Google can help you do that using Maximise Conversion Value, and, in our experience, it does this very well.

Target ROAS

OK, so you’re an e-commerce business, you’re looking to grow, and your happy to spend more money as long as you can get the returns…you are a perfect candidate for Target ROAS! Similar to Target CPA, you tell Google what your ROAS target is, and they will optimise your bids to ensure that you achieve this – then you can incrementally increase your budget and watch your revenue rise! OK, it’s not always that simple, but that’s the idea behind this strategy, and in our experience, it’s a very effective one.

So there you have it. That’s our take on Google’s bidding strategies. We’ve tested these over hundreds of campaigns over the years and have a very good sense of how and when to use each one, so if you need any hep with this, please feel free to get in touch for a chat!


Chris Winn


Chris has worked in PPC for nearly 10 years and has worked across hundreds of Paid Search and Paid Social accounts. He is also a chartered accountant and has spent time living in Spain and Australia before settling back in the UK. Outside of work, Chris can be found marathon training, cycling in the Surrey Hills and listening to old school Ibiza anthems.