To choose the right bid management settings, it's important that you define your business's success: how much you are ready to pay for conversions, the ideal profitability for each category and the margins you are aiming for. This information will help you choose your settings for manual and automatic strategies for your campaigns.
Who get the most from manual bid management
Specialists in contextual advertising often recommend manual bid management. If you are just learning to use Yandex.Direct, take such recommendations with a grain of salt.
Manual strategies are a good choice provided that you are ready and willing to regularly update your bids (yourself) in reaction to changes in factors as varied as each keyword's effectiveness, your business's indicators and even the current weather. Due to this complexity, many businesses that talk about manual bid management are in fact managing their bids with the help of external bidding systems connected to the Yandex.Direct API.
To ensure your ads' effectiveness when managing your bids manually, you will need an equation that takes the following factors into account (at a minimum):
- Your optimal bid, calculated for each keyword based on the statistics you have gathered in Report Wizard.
- The keyword's effectiveness, the query length.
- Audience characteristics (age, gender, region, behavioral traits).
- Time (seasonality, day of the week).
- The type of host site, device and the user's operating system.
Common mistakes and how to avoid them
Analyzing advertisers' experience and feedback, we were able to gather some of the most common mistakes related to manual bid management.
- "You should adjust your daily budget if you want to keep it at a certain level."
Spending can exceed the set daily budget on some days, but the average weekly budget will still be maintained. Some advertisers make regular changes to their daily budget in order to maintain the daily budget for a specific day at a specific level. Why is this a bad idea? Every time you make changes, the system has to recalculate the budget for the remaining days of that week, ignoring previous expenditures. This can lead to failing to maintain your weekly budget as a result, and with it losing control over your expenditures.
- "Changing bids is something you can and should do constantly."
As mentioned in the service offer, changes to bids in Yandex.Direct come into effect every 30 minutes. Changing your bids more frequently will make it more difficult to understand which bids your ads appeared for.
- "The lower the bid, the lower the CPA."
Bids in ad networks can automatically decrease for clicks with low probability of conversion, or increase for clicks with high probability. The algorithm uses your campaign's priority goals and conversion prices as a guideline. On search, where competition for more precise keywords can be higher, you can expect CPA to also be different. In any case, it makes sense to aim for a realistic CPA.
Manual bid management is complicated. Those experts that talk about it offering greater "control" most likely resort to getting help from robots anyway. So if you don't have a lot of experience with Yandex.Direct, aren't sure how to calculate or take all these factors into account, or if you simply don't have enough time to constantly check the situation with your competitors and make changes to your campaign, then it's better to use an automatic strategy.
Using automatic strategies correctly
Automatic strategies take a wide range of factors into account when managing your bids. They perform routine operations for you, and do so more effectively than even the most experienced human. Here are a few tips for working with automatic strategies.
- Install a Yandex.Metrica tag, set goals, and choose a specific goal for optimization in the strategy settings. This increases automatic strategies' effectiveness: the system understands which impressions will be most beneficial for your campaign and which — less so. All goals and e-commerce events for the campaign's Yandex.Metrica tag are available in the strategy settings.
Yandex.Metrica helps track the behavior of different user groups: new and return customers, men and women, various age groups, regions, and different times of day when they are active. Analyzing audience behavior, you can set your ad campaign more flexibly: increasing your bids for promising users and lowering them for those users who don't interest you.
- Check your campaign settings before you start. Automatic strategies manage bids and help you reach your goals for your business, maintaining indicators at the level you set, without affecting other important campaign settings. When selecting keywords, composing your ad texts, adding any needed extensions and choosing the most relevant landing page — A/B testing can help figure out which ones work best.
- Make changes to your campaign as rarely as possible: this leads any strategy to restart and recalculate all indicators. In other words, you lose control, and analyzing your campaign becomes all the more difficult.
- Make sure that your target CPA is realistic for your specific campaign. This point is just as relevant for manual strategies and external bid management systems as well. When setting a limit for ROI or CPA, take the campaign's current performance into account. If you have a similar campaign with manual bid management, use its CPA as a guideline. In any case, setting limits that are too strict, whether too high an ROI or too low a CPA (that the campaign has never reached on its own) will significantly lower the number of impressions and conversions they get: it's possible that there will be no leads at that cost.
Sometimes automatic strategies can significantly lower the current CPA, but their main task is to bring you as many conversions at the current CPA or for the same budget.
- If you don't yet have statistics accumulated, and you don't know what average CPA you can get, launch the Conversion optimization strategy with a weekly budget and a goal, but don't set the CPA. After two weeks, the algorithm will have found the average market value.
Case. An advertiser in the "hair clipper" category was already using automatic strategies, but wanted to check how they could effectively gather statistics — starting with manual bid management or immediately launching an automated strategy.
As part of the A/B experiment, they had two segments. The "Cold Start" segment was launched immediately, with a conversion optimization strategy and an average CPA of 1500 RUB. The "Manual Warmup" segment, on the other hand, showed for one week with a manual strategy and then switched to conversion optimization with the same CPA.
The weekly budget limits were identical, CPC limits were not applied to the automatic strategy.
The results were such: with equal budgets, the automatic strategy brought more conversions at the "Cold Start" step than the manual strategy.
- Don't forget that different products and services will have different average ROI and CPA. Determine the acceptable values for each category based on their profitability. Take the average values for the category in the overall market into account as well.
Case. An advertiser was using an automatic strategy, but their CPA level remained higher than they wanted. They decided to use A / B testing to check a hypothesis: that combining campaigns falling short of their targets would help gather statistics faster and reach the target CPA. Before the merger, all campaigns used the same strategy with the same target values without CPC limits, and optimized for the "Order placed" goal.
After the experiment was launched, the target CPA was reached and conversions increased. The merged campaigns, however, meant that the advertiser had sacrificed the ability to manage the share of expenses for specific product categories. With a shared campaign, impressions could go primarily to the one category that would allow the minimum CPA to be achieved.
- Track the effect of the automatic strategy of the performance of your business performance. You should test your campaigns in Yandex.Direct to determine the right strategy for you. Remember that you should compare different strategies at the campaign level. Or test ad campaigns with different settings, e.g. with and without an Average CPA limit.
Testing does require time in the short term, but ultimately saves you time and money in the long term by improving the performance of your campaigns.
By defining your goals, the key metrics for your business, and applying these recommendations, you can be sure that you are choosing the most effective bid management strategy, giving you the ability to control your advertising investments, analyze them, and improve their performance.