Thoughts on Bid Management Tools

    January 10, 2007

J. wrote me to ask what I think of bid management software, as the large agency he now works for in a search marketing capacity has asked him for his views on it.

He asked for an email reply “or by blogging.” I emailed back, but here’s a copy. :)

This isn’t exactly a “rant,” but it sounds a bit ranty. There is still time to edit before ebook release. :)


You caught me at a good time!

I’m working on a section for my forthcoming ebook. My take is that we forget what we need the tools for when we are constantly studying what particular vendors have to say, or what they offer.

If we study reasons for using these services, the picture becomes clearer.

Examples of what the tools do:

– help you avoid bid gaps (not needed, now obsolete)

– help you daypart (useful sometimes; available within Google)

– help you organize ad creative (not sure if most do a good job “helping”)

– helps you with exotic strategies like bid shadowing, and “punish settings” (oh please! don’t waste time playing games!)

– help you bid to ROI objectives (definitely useful but you don’t always need an automated solution to assist with this)

– in light of the above point, help you deal with large, complex accounts (true, but not all accounts are as big as they seem)

– help you coordinate functions and reporting across multiple platforms (would be nice, but can they achieve this in practice given frequent changes to the features of the platforms? this would be great if it truly saved time and created consistency but does it? and finally if Google is 70% of spend, and you had better not be wasting funds on nonconverting 2nd-tiers like Kanoodle and so on, then this coordination function isn’t quite as vital)

So, those are some considerations. Price is a big part of the mix. I have yet to see an unbiased review of all the available vendor offerings, and don’t really expect to see one for some time! In examining the above list it becomes clear that bid management may be absolutely necessary for large, fast-moving retail accounts, and few outside of that. Campaign management (building and maintaining even large accounts) can be achieved by logging into the interfaces separately and making periodic (not 10 times a day!) bid adjustments, and by delegating routine tasks. The human analyst has much to do, and while intelligent automation is always a way to improve the workflow, not everyone can afford the time and money it takes to rock with these bid management services (they can be counterproductive).

Best regards,



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Andrew Goodman is Principal of Page Zero Media, a marketing consultancy which focuses on maximizing clients’ paid search marketing campaigns.

In 1999 Andrew co-founded, an acclaimed “guide to portals” which foresaw the rise of trends such as paid search and semantic analysis.