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How and When To Use Portfolio Bid Strategies

Today, I want to talk about portfolio bid strategies in Google ads. 

Last week, Google made an announcement that you can now use a couple of different options with portfolio bid strategies.

And I don’t think I’ve talked about these at all yet. So I wanted to dig in a little today, talk about Google’s announcement, and also talk about portfolio bid strategies in general. 

What is a portfolio bid strategy?

A portfolio bid strategy is basically a strategy that you can set up at an account level and then you can assign different campaigns within that account to share that bid strategy. 

For example, if you’re setting up a target CPA campaign, and maybe you have multiple campaigns, and you want all of those campaigns to have the same target CPA, you can set up a portfolio bid strategy. You set the target CPA within the bid strategy, and then you assign that bid strategy to all of the campaigns. 

Let’s say you were bidding $40 per conversion, and you want to change that across all your campaigns, you can go into the portfolio bid strategy, edit the target in there, and then it would apply to all of the campaigns. That’s basically how they work. 

Now that’s not actually why I set up portfolio bid strategies. I don’t really have issues.

If I want to change the target CPA across multiple campaigns, I would just go to the list of all the ad groups, select the ones that I want to change, and I would change the bidding that way. I don’t think the portfolio bid strategy is really a big deal when it comes to adjusting bids. 

It can be interesting to look and see how that bid strategy is performing, especially if you have multiple bid strategies within an account. Because now (let’s say you have three campaigns with one target CPA, and three different campaigns with a different target CPA, and you’re using two different bid strategies for that), it’s easier to go look and see how each of those sets are performing, versus looking at your main dashboard and filtering out each of the campaigns you want to look at. So that is one advantage: looking at the combined reporting for all the campaigns that are sharing the portfolio bid strategy. 

The main reason that I use portfolio bid strategies though, is that it allows you to set a maximum cost per click. 

Let’s say I’m running a target CPA campaign, and I’m bidding $30 per lead, but I don’t want to pay more than $5 per click. Maybe I’ve already been running some cost per click campaigns. I’m getting leads for $30 over there, but I’m only paying $2 per click. Well, it is possible once I start running a target CPA campaign, that some of my clicks might end up being pretty high and a lot more than $2, maybe a lot more than $5 if I don’t put that limit on and tell Google “I don’t want you going over $5 per click.” The only way to put that limit ON when you’re using target CPA bidding is to actually do it through a portfolio bid strategy. 

So even if I only have one campaign, running target CPA bidding, if I’m using that strategy, then I’m using a portfolio bid strategy because that allows me to set the maximum cost per click. 

I should mention, this only applies to search and display campaigns. This does not apply to video campaigns, at least not as of right now. But that’s the main benefit as I see it,  you can set a maximum cost per click. That will keep Google in check even if you’re doing a target CPA, because otherwise (and I’ve seen it happen), the cost per click can get pretty out of hand if Google’s algorithm is doing some crazy things. 

So let’s talk about the announcement that Google made, which is:

You can now use “maximize conversions” and “maximize conversion value” with portfolio bid strategies. 

That means the bidding options now for portfolio bid strategies are target CPA (which I just talked about), target ROAS (which is target return on adspend), maximize conversions and maximize conversion value (the two new ones), and then maximize clicks and target impression share (which are both pretty horrible, I would not recommend using either of those whether you’re setting that at the campaign level or you’re using a portfolio strategy). 

I also wouldn’t recommend using these new ones: maximize conversions and maximize conversion value. There are rare instances where I see these working (in general) in campaigns. I don’t see any reason to add these as a portfolio strategy. You cannot set a maximum cost per click limit with either of these new strategies. 

So I don’t see any big impact of the announcement, but I did just want to address it, and then talk about how I’m actually utilizing these strategies, which is setting up a target CPA strategy, and then setting a maximum cost per click limit. 

Now, one other thing I’ll mention is that:

You don’t always want to change your target CPA for an entire campaign or an entire account. 

Even if you have a target CPA strategy in place, you can still go into specific ad groups and adjust the target CPA for those specific ad groups. So keep that in mind. If you have particular ad groups where you want to bid more or less, then you can still do that at the ad group level. But that means if you go in and change your bid at the portfolio level, it will not apply to those ad groups where you’ve changed the bid at the ad group level. 

But if you are running target CPA campaigns, I highly recommend setting up that bid strategy in the portfolio, setting a maximum cost per click, and then applying that to the target CPA campaigns.