Manual vs Automated Bidding

Is Manual or Automated Bidding Better for Your PPC Campaign?

Should you use manual bidding or automated bidding for your Google Ads?

This is a question that many advertisers ask themselves when it comes to getting started in their PPC campaigns.

There are pros and cons for each type of bidding, so in this article, I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of manual and automated bidding to help you decide which one is best for your needs.

Manual Bidding

Manual bidding is when the advertiser picks the specific bid price for each keyword manually.

It gives you the ability to manually set the maximum cost-per-click (CPC) amount that you could pay for each click on your ads.

Manual bidding offers a unique set of benefits.

One advantage to manual bidding is flexibility, as your adjustments can be dependant upon the industry and company goals.

A disadvantage of manual bidding is that it takes a lot more time to set up manual bidding than automated bids.

You’ll need to monitor your campaigns closely and adjust the bids accordingly for things to run smoothly.

So Manual Bidding Pros (+) and Cons (-) are:

+ Greater control

+ Maximize your budget

– Time-consuming to learn and manage

– Limited by personal knowledge; no use of Google’s data

Automated Bidding

This is when you let Google automatically set the bids for your ads based on that ad’s likelihood to result in a conversion.

Think of automated bidding as a “set it and forget it” strategy.

Automated bidding is designed to help achieve a specific goal for your organization and you do not need to manually update bids for specific ad groups or keywords.

Different types of automated bid strategies can help you increase clicks, visibility in search results, conversions, or conversion value.

A conversion-based automated bid strategy sets various bids based on available information such as time of day, account setup, ad type, or demographic.

These types of strategies can be manually changed to adjust what the optimizer thinks is best for maximizing conversions.

So Automated Bidding Pros (+) and Cons (-) are:

+ Save you time

+ Takes advantage of Google’s in-depth data

– Less efficient use of your budget

– Less control

Which One Is Better?

You will find several opinions on which one is better.

This WordStream post outlines five reasons to never use Google’s automated bidding.

Those reasons are lost impression share, the ability to achieve a higher page position, the ability to implement advanced bidding strategies, reduce wasteful spending, and overall greater control.

That being said, there is an investment of time to learn and manage a manual PPC campaign.

Automated bid adjustments can be set a campaign to save you time, and it can take advantage of Google’s in-depth levels of data that are not available to those using manual bidding.

You will need to determine what the best trade-off is.

The smaller and busier you are, the more likely you will want to let Google do the work for you.

The more money you spend on a campaign, the more likely you will want to invest in the education and training to ensure you are maximizing the dollars spent.

What Are Some Additional Resources?

You can start with Google Ads as they have a fairly easy-to-understand overview.

Here is an article on WordStream that talks about the Pros and Cons of an automated bidding strategy.

You can also try the SEMRush blog.


This post may contain affiliate links. Click here for my disclaimer.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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