Google Ads’ Manual CPC Bidding: Advantages & Disadvantages

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Google Ads’ Manual CPC Bidding: Advantages & Disadvantages


I have often noted that many Google Ads campaign managers don’t stick to one bidding strategy and tend to perform several experiments simultaneously if things don’t go their way. Based on my personal experience of running several Google Ads campaigns, SEM Managers should use only a couple of bidding strategies at any given time to generate better ROI for their clients. In this article, I’ll review the advantages and disadvantages of using ‘Manual CPC bidding’ -i.e. where the SEM campaign manager manually sets and adjusts the Cost Per Click (CPC) bids- and the situations where this bidding strategy should or should not be adopted.


As Google Ads advertisers have the option to use various smart bidding strategies, many SEM campaign managers switch from Manual CPC bidding to automated ones. In many instances, advertisers discover that campaigns using automated bidding strategies such as Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) do outperform those using manually-optimised bids.

Choose the right Google Ads’ bidding Strategies


However, there are SEM campaigns– based on campaign size and perhaps even industry/niche- in which Manual CPC bidding is not only essential but more effective. For example, in one of the Google Ads campaigns for a fast-growing business in the education sector in India, we have consistently seen that Manual CPC bidding yielded far better conversion rate and ROI with lead generation.


While we have seen a similar trend with a few other small SEM campaigns too, I feel that the fairly reasonable size of the aforementioned education-sector lead generation campaign makes this particularly significant and worth highlighting.


Of course, it is equally important to remember that every bidding strategy comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Manual CPC Bidding and its advantages

Here are some guidelines/ suggestions that I recommend based on our learnings on when to opt for a manual CPC bidding strategy.

New SEM campaigns on Google Ads that do not have historical performance data cannot take advantage of smart bidding strategies. Automated bidding strategies such as “maximize conversions/ target CPA” require campaigns to have at least 30 conversions within the last 30 days for them to work effectively.

In such circumstances, manual CPC bidding gives the advertiser the ability to optimise their bids without having to wait for a certain volume of conversions and one can directly use this strategy for new campaigns

There are instances where automated bid strategies are not able to meet the campaign’s objectives. Test the effectiveness of smart bidding strategies versus manual bids by comparing the key campaign metrics for the different bidding approaches.

If you think smart bidding strategies are not going your way—- belying your expectations—it is time to optimise bids the old-fashioned way.

Manual CPC bidding is the only bidding strategy that gives advertisers full control over their bidding. Note that even if you are using manual CPC bidding but have enabled the “Enhanced CPC” option, you will no longer be able to completely control the bid.

For advertisers with small-ish budgets and high sensitivity to cost per click or cost per acquisition at all times, manual CPC bidding definitely seems to be the way to go.

Automated/ smart bidding strategies work well if your campaigns are really big – in terms of budgets or keywords- and you are willing to give the Google Ads platform the time required to “learn” what works.

Manual CPC Bidding and its disadvantages

There are some obvious disadvantages of using manual bidding too. Let’s review some of the common cons of relying on a SEM manager to make bid adjustments to your Google Ads campaign.

Managing keywords effectively and optimising those requires a certain level of experience. This can also make setting manual bids difficult for those who are not proficient in sunning Google ads.

Account managers will be required to log in on a regular basis to check the performance and adjust the bids accordingly. This includes lot of bid adjustments like device, schedule, location, demographics and keywords, to name a few

Every time your ads are not performing i.e not delivering the expected results, you need to check the campaigns at keyword level and on multiple fronts. The time spent in doing this continues to add up,

With manual CPC bidding, we are expecting the individual campaign manager to diagnose and fix the problems, which becomes more challenging as the number of variables increase. On the other hand, we are relying on the significantly more powerful computational capabilities of Google’s algorithms to learn and respond to meet campaign objectives in the case of automated bidding.

As mentioned above, it is immensely challenging – and beyond a point, even impossible—to manually manage campaigns that may involve thousands of keywords or tens of thousands of sites in the display network.

Google’s smart bidding strategies are able to tap into a wealth of data on the behaviour of users in order to help drive calculations for bids. Taking this into consideration it is no surprise that many advertisers are seeing improved performance when transitioning from manual CPC to a smart bidding strategy such as target CPA, maximize conversion, etc.

Learn and adapt

Despite the allure of automated bid management approaches with Google Ads campaigns, we think Manual CPC bidding still has an important role to play, especially in campaigns with a few hundred keywords at most.


Always test out both Manual CPC and automated bidding strategies depending on the objectives and targets of the campaign, monitor the results and then stick to what works best in your own case


Know more about Manual CPC and Automated Bidding strategies.

- By Abhishek Savekar


Abhishek Savekar is a Digital Marketing Manager with On Target Marketing Solutions, our India affiliate. He manages Google Ads and Facebook advertising campaigns for advertisers in multiple industries.


Interested in running a Google Ads SEM campaign for your business in Singapore? Let On Target Media be your SEM agency in Singapore to run both local and international SEM campaigns.


See more articles on SEM & Google Ads.


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