There was a blog post that circulated around this week about the default bids for the content network changing and Google not letting anyone know about it.
It’s not true. Nothing has changed.
While I don’t think the author meant to imply that Google turned on auto-bidding, that was the interpretation of the 40+ requests for clarification I received about the post.
If you use conversion optimizer or auto-bidding as your campaign bidding strategies, then Google sets bids based around those targets.
If you use enhanced CPC or default bidding then Google uses a hierarchy for choosing the starting bid (and then bid modifiers such as enhanced CPC, demographic, ad scheduling, etc are applied after the default is chosen).
Google looks for the most specific bid, and uses that one if possible, if it doesn’t exist – then they move down the chain:
- Ad group placement bid (only older accts might see this)
- Campaign placement bid (only older accts might see this)
- Ad group display network bid
- Campaign content bid (only older accts might see this)
- Default bid
The ‘Auto’ that’s used is not auto-bidding. Google does an average of all the keyword CPCs in that ad group.
If you don’t have keyword level bids, then they use the default bid for the ad group.
So the ‘auto’ is an old naming convention that Google used for this scenario well before auto-bidding was even a feature.
Just to make sure this wasn’t new; I looked at my first AdWords Seminar for Success presentation from October of 2006, and the notes from the presentation are the same as today (except audiences didn’t exist then).
You cannot have keyword level bids on the content network. As the content network is based around themes – not keywords – there’s no bid at that level.
The real takeaway: Set bids at the most granular level. Placements or audiences if you have them; and then always place a display network bid at the ad group level.
As a side note: I reinstalled some software yesterday, and the software published a ‘thank you page’ as a blog post so it went out in the RSS feed. Don’t worry – you will not receive any notifications about the seminars unless you opt-in to receiving them.