Understanding Ad Group Bidding Options

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Managing your bids is crucial to running a successful AdWords campaign. The AdWords API offers developers control over all aspects of their bidding strategy, but the variety of options available can be daunting. To add to this, AdWords added support for mixed keyword and website criteria within the same ad group several months ago. In the interest of answering some common questions, here are a few ad group structures and the way to implement them using the AdWords API.

CPC bidding

Getting the right setup

The AdWords API can be used to manage both keyword and website criteria within the same ad group. However, you do need to make sure your ad groups are properly configured before they'll accept both those criteria types. In order for your ad group to accept keyword criteria, it must have its keywordMaxCpc and/or keywordContentMaxCpc attributes set to your maximum CPC bid. In order for your ad group to accept website criteria, the siteMaxCpc attribute needs to be set as well. Failing to have a value set for siteMaxCpc is a common cause of SOAP errors of type 74 while trying to add website criteria to an existing ad group. In fact, a misleading message may appear: "This criterion type is invalid. Acceptable values are 'Website' and 'Keyword'.  Websites and keywords may not be used in ad groups in the same campaign." Rest assured, the spelling of "Website" did not change overnight. You may just need to set your siteMaxCpc value.

Which bid gets triggered?

Although controlling both keywords and websites within the same ad group adds a new range of possibilities for campaign structure, it can be confusing as to which bid will be triggered under different situations. This
information is available in this article in the AdWords Help Center but it helps to visualize a few common scenarios.

For the following examples, let's suppose that we have added the keywords "Mars" and "rover" as well as the website "nasa.org" to our ad group. In our campaign we have set the bidding strategy to CPC and have enabled our ads to appear on
Google search, Search partners, and Relevant pages across the entire network.

  • A user searches for the phrase "Mars rover" within Google or on one of Google's search partners. AdWords will always use the keywordMaxCpc bid to determine if your ad should be placed.

  • A user visits NASA's new Mars rover website with nasa.org as the domain. In this case, because you have nasa.org as one of your Website criteria, the bid will be either be the siteMaxCpc value from the ad group or the maxCpc from the Website criteria. If there's a maxCpc value defined in the criteria, then it will take precedence. Even if this website would trigger the keywords in your ad group, the placement-related bidding values will always take precedence as they're considered more specific.

  • A user visits the Mars rover's manufacturer's website, which happens to be on the content network (i.e. it is an AdSense enabled website). The keyword criteria "Mars rover" is what ends up triggering the ad. In this case, AdWords will first check the maxCpc value set for the keyword that triggered the ad, if this is not set, the keywordContentMaxCpc value from the ad group will be used. If keywordContentMaxCpc is not set, it will use the keywordMaxCpc value. It will not under any circumstance use the siteMaxCpc value.

(By the way, if you're curious about which bid will get used if an ad is triggered by both a keyword and a website in the same ad group, it will always be the bid associated with your website.)

CPM bidding

If you've set up your campaign for CPM bidding (because you'll be running image or video ads on the Content network, and not text ads on the Search network), then the only relevant ad group bid setting to configure is siteMaxCpm. This simplifies setup considerably compared to the options available when you're using CPC bidding.

You can add both keyword and website criteria to the same ad group, and the siteMaxCpm bid will always be used when determining what you're willing to bid for each impression your ad receives.

Both keywords and website criteria will be able to trigger your ad in the Content network, with the caveat that your keyword criteria won't generate any impression or click-related statistics when used to trigger ads in the Content network.

--Adam Rogal and Jeffrey Posnick, AdWords API Team

AdWords Downtime: November 8, 10am-2pm PST

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

We'll be performing routine system maintenance on Saturday, November 8 from approximately 10:00am to 2:00pm PST. You won't be able to access AdWords or the API during this time frame, but your ads will continue to run as normal.

-Jeffrey Posnick, AdWords API Team

v13's New Keyword Search Volume Info

Monday, November 03, 2008

AdWords API v13 ushered in a number of great new features, like exposing keyword quality score information, new report types, and support for more geo-targeting options. There is an additional new feature that received somewhat less fanfare, though: starting with v13, the getKeywordVariations() method of the Keyword Tool Service returns information about the average and last month's search volume for each suggested keyword variation. Ever since this feature was rolled out in the standalone Keyword Tool web page in July we've been hearing requests from developers eager to get that sort of information from the AdWords API, so we thought it would be worthwhile to explain how you can now retrieve similar data from your own code.

Let's say you're considering adding the keyword new york to one of your ad groups, and you're curious about what kind of search volume that keyword normally receives. You're interested in data pertaining to English-language queries in the United States and Canada, and you want data about that exact keyword--not any of its synonyms. In order to retrieve that search volume data, the following SOAP request body would be appropriate:

        <text>new york</text>

If you make that SOAP request to the AdWords API v13, you'll get a (large) number of results back--around 200 potential variations on the keyword new york, like new york hotels or brooklyn new york. Each variations will have its own set of search volume data associated with it, and that data is all potentially useful. For the purposes of this example, though, what we're interested in is seeing the search volume data for our seed keyword of new york. Your original seed keyword(s) will always be included in the results you get back from getKeywordVariations(), so your code can loop through the results until it finds the one that matches your original request. In this case, the XML for the result entry looks like:

    <text>new york</text>

So now we know, that over the past twelve months, the average monthly search volume for the keyword new york was 68,000,000 queries, and last month the search volume made it all the way up to 83,100,000 queries. New York is a popular town!

Hopefully the additional data returned by the getKeywordVariations() method in AdWords API v13 will make it even easier to target and optimize your AdWords campaigns.

--Jeffrey Posnick, AdWords API Team