Portfolio Bid Strategies

Running a successful Google Ads account can be complicated and risky, but one of the most stressful aspects is reaching your KPIs across all of your campaigns. Whether you are using a maximize conversion strategy or targeting a specific cost-per-action, you may want to consider using portfolio optimization utilizing portfolio bid strategies.

Similar to shared budgets, portfolio bid strategies are an automated, goal-driven bid strategy that is applied to multiple campaigns and will synchronize the overall bid strategy across all selected campaigns, ad groups, and keywords. Previously referred to as “flexible bid strategies,” portfolio bid strategies are best used across multiple campaigns that require similar goals or optimization targets. It is best practice to implement shared budgets alongside portfolio bidding strategies; some bid types require a shared budget. These bid strategies that require a shared budget are the three “maximize” strategies:

  • Maximize clicks
  • Maximize conversions 
  • Maximize conversion value

The nice thing about this approach is that when creating a portfolio bid strategy, you are given the option to also create a shared budget that will be applied to the selected campaigns, making the process much more efficient.

Bid Strategies

There are a total of six different types of bid strategies to choose from, but the campaign types that you apply these to may negate some of the options. The six strategies are as follows, as well as a quick breakdown of how they work and when to best utilize them:

1. Target CPA: Automatically sets bids to help get as many conversions as possible at the target cost-per-action (CPA) you set.

  • Example: You have multiple campaigns with different budgets, geo-targeting, etc., but your main goal is to get conversions at $100. Target CPA may be the best route for you to take.

2. Target ROAS: Automatically sets bids to help get as much conversion value as possible at the target return on ad spend (ROAS) you set.

  • Similar to Target CPA, if you need to reach a certain ROAS threshold for your campaigns to be profitable, this strategy is likely implemented more on e-commerce accounts, while Target CPA is more commonly used on lead-gen.

3. Maximize Clicks: Fairly self-explanatory, max clicks will automatically set your bids to help get as many clicks as possible within your budget.

  • If getting more traffic is the overall goal of the campaigns, then max clicks will be a good route to take.
  • I would recommend using this strategy on broad awareness campaigns such as display or YouTube, as they can drive a massive amount of traffic at a lower cost.

4. Maximize Conversions: Also self-explanatory, max conversions will optimize your bidding toward getting the most amount of conversions.

  • Something key to note about this bid strategy is that your campaigns will take into account all conversions you have set up, so if you have “calls from ads” and “purchase conversions,” the system will see these actions as the same value and attempt to produce the most of either conversion action.

5. Maximize Conversion Value: The alternative to maximizing conversions is to maximize conversion value, which takes into account the values associated with each conversion action and will aim to get the most conversion value for your campaign while spending your budget.

  • This is a good strategy for e-commerce accounts that don’t have a clear ROAS of CPA goal and are just looking to maximize the conversion value produced by said campaigns.

6. Target Impression Share: A unique bid strategy, Target Impression share, needs to be utilized in specific ways to be effective.

  • It will automatically set bids with the goal of showing your ad on the absolute top of the page, on the top of the page, or anywhere on the page of Google search results.
  • You can apply CPC bid limits to the settings, but Target Impression Share will be best utilized on campaigns in which you want control over your coverage of specific keywords.
  • This can only be applied to Search campaigns, and we have seen it work best for branded campaigns that look to show ads for every branded search on Google.

Each of these bid strategies works very differently, so having a clear understanding of how each works and the best way to apply them is prominent before creating portfolio bid strategies. You can find a larger breakdown of these bid strategies here

Also, please note that some portfolio bid strategies can only be applied to similar campaign types. For example, max clicks can’t be applied to Shopping and Search campaigns as one strategy due to Shopping campaigns not being optimized for max clicks. In this case, you may need to create multiple portfolio bid strategies for each campaign type.

Steps to Create a Portfolio Bid Strategy

Create a portfolio bid strategy in the Shared library “Bid strategies” page by following these steps:

  1. In the upper right corner of your Google Ads account, go to Tools & Settings, and then under “Shared library”, select Bid strategies.
  2. Click the Plus button, and choose the type of bid strategy you’d like to create.
  3. Enter the name of your new portfolio bid strategy.
  4. Select the campaigns you want to include (you can also add more campaigns after your portfolio bid strategy is created).
  5. Enter the bid strategy settings.
  6. Click Save.

There’s one additional setting that is worth talking about, and that is that you can cap your CPCs on four of the six strategies. This is especially useful if you’ve seen your CPCs go way up when using an automated bid strategy.

  • On Maximize Clicks, it’s a checkbox during setup.
  • On Target Impression share, it’s the last field during setup.
  • And if you are setting up tROAS or tCPA, it’s under ‘Advanced Settings’ just below where you enter your tCPA or tROAS goal. (You can also set a minimum bid limit on tCPA or tROAS.)
  • Maximize conversions and Maximize conversion value bid strategies do not have the option to cap your CPCs.

Portfolio bid strategies are a useful optimization strategy when you have comprehensive goals spanning multiple campaigns. Lumping campaigns together with shared budgets and bid strategies can help optimize your account overall to better fulfill your KPIs at a more efficient rate. Look into your options as you create the bid strategies, and test to see what works best for your campaigns. I’d recommend trying bid strategies out on campaigns individually prior to combining them into portfolio bid strategies in order to have a more accurate insight into how they will perform together.

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