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The Uncertain Future of Manual CPC Bidding in Google Ads

I had a discussion with the head of AdTech at EDEE, a recent PPC Live sponsor, and it raised an interesting question about the longevity of a core Google Ads functionality – manual CPC bidding.

As automated bidding strategies become more sophisticated and widely adopted, is manual bidding’s time running out?
I also put a poll up on LinkedIn to open up the discussion and as you can see, a lot of the PPC community on LinkedIn had something to say about it.

The Declining Need for Manual Bidding

According to insights from the EDEE AdTech lead, an increasing number of advertisers are shifting away from manually setting keyword bids in favor of Google’s automated “Maximum Clicks” bid strategy. This aligns with Google’s heavy push towards automation and AI-driven campaign management in recent years.

Automated bidding promises to optimize campaigns more efficiently at scale using machine learning models. As the technology advances, the need for manual bidding and human intervention diminishes.

Velizara Tellayan is liking the direction that automated bidding is going in:

But Manual Bidding Still Has Its Advocates

However, manual CPC bidding still has its passionate user base. In researching strategies that go against Google’s best practices, a few PPC experts cited continued success with manual bidding as their preferred approach.
This divergence in strategies highlights the nuances and complexities of search advertising. While Google touts automation as the future, experienced practitioners often find value in maintaining manual control, at least for certain use cases.

Justin Golden on stubbornly using manual CPC for branded campaigns:

The Potential Sunset of Manual CPC Bidding

So could 2024 mark the end of manual CPC bidding as an option within Google Ads? It’s certainly a possibility, given Google’s clear direction toward fully automated campaign management driven by machine learning.

As one AdTech leader points out, the declining usage of manual bidding may embolden Google to eventually retire the functionality altogether as it doubles down on AI-optimization. Legacy manual controls could be pegged as “holding back” the platform’s performance

Several experts are agree with this notion.

Only Time Will Tell

For now, manual bidding remains an option for those who prefer hands-on control and precise adjustments. But throughout 2023, we’ll get a better sense of whether this long-standing functionality is truly living on borrowed time within Google’s increasingly automated advertising ecosystem.

Marketers accustomed to manual bidding may need to start exploring automated bid strategy options and getting familiar with the latest AI/ML advances in preparation. Disruption could be on the horizon for one of the most fundamental paid search practices.

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