Perfect Ad Placement with AdWords Automated Bidding

Paid search managers are frequently tasked with managing large accounts that include thousands of keywords. While some choose to utilize third-party tools to automate bids in AdWords, there are many who manually update maximum cost-per-click (CPC) to more precisely position their ads. Achieving the right CPC balance can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but with the help of AdWords’ baked-in automation, we can be the victors.


When set up correctly, automated rules can be really helpful to maintain ads within a certain positioning range, but this method requires a bit of setup—and most importantly, patience—to get the balance just right. Let’s review how to start the process.

Patience is a Virtue

Before implementing automated rules in AdWords, it’s crucial to manually update all maximum CPC bids for every one of your keywords, a key step that needs to be repeated on a daily basis until you reach your desired position. Once you’re within your target range, it’s time to implement automated rules that will automagically (see what I did there?) increase or decrease maximum CPC based on predefined conditions you’ve set up.

While you can set automated rules for numerous metrics, from bounce rate and impressions to quality score and more, you will most often find the need to set automated rules based on achieving the perfect positioning at the best ROI.

Below, we’ll review setting up an automated rule based on your ads’ average position.

Automated Rules Setup
(must be in your AdWords account)

  1. Select the “Keywords” tab of a campaign, either all campaigns or at the Ad Group level.
  2. Click ‘Automate’
  3. In the dropdown under ‘Automate’, select ‘Change Max CPC Bids When’.
  4. Set which keywords the rule applies to.
  5. Set the action (either Increase bid or Decrease bid).
    Pro tip: Always remember to set up a minimum of two rules, one to decrease maximum CPC when you are over the range and one to increase maximum CPC when you are below your range.
  6. Example: Range is 1.9 – 2.9. Rule will increase bid when previous day avg. position is under 2.9 and second rule will decrease bid when previous day avg. position is over 1.9.
  7. Set the maximum bid (and avoid bad surprises!).
  8. Set the percentage by which you want to increase or decrease.
    Note: A rule of thumb is that you will use a lower percentage when you decrease than when you increase.
  9. Set ‘Requirements” for ‘Avg. Position’ (under ‘Performance’) and ‘better than’ or ‘worse than’.
  10. Set your desired frequency for running this rule.
    Note: A rule of thumb is to set the rule to run daily based on past day or 7 days. I set the time to run 1 hour before I get to work so that I the rule has been applied by the time I review my accounts.
  11. Name your rule.
  12. Set ‘Email results’ if you’d like to receive emails when there are changes or errors.
    Tip: Keep your inbox clean and set this to ‘only when there are errors’.

Preview the results before saving.

how to set up adwords automated bidding

Once implemented, you’ll still need to review positioning in order to assure that the percentage used within your rules adjusts your maximum CPC as you’d hoped. Every industry and market is different so this process is imperative until you feel you’ve got a firm grasp of the market mechanics.

Keep in mind as well that it’s very important to set your range objective first based on your goals and client requirements, market, and budget. Based on your ideal range, you’ll set your automated rules accordingly.

Can’t I just set the rules first and adjust it later?

I’ll keep this short: NO.

Of course you can set up automated rules first and then wait for them to position your ads within a certain range but you will definitely be either overspending or under-performing.

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Richard Antille