Do I have to use Max Clicks first, then Max Conversions bidding for my Google Ads campaigns? Why did performance get worse when I increased budget?

July 8, 2024

I’m not a regular doctor… I’m a cool PPC doctor.

From budget management to keyword strategy, our team of experts can diagnose any paid media problem. Submit your ad woes here and let us work our magic. Now for this weeks' Qs and As.

Q: I just launched a new campaign, and Google Ads Says I have to use Maximize Clicks first to get data before switching to Maximize Conversions. Does the ad really need to "learn" about my conversions first? I’m afraid Google wants me to pay for clicks for no good reason.

A: Many patients come to me with questions like this. While I understand that it can be hard to trust Google, their diagnosis is correct in this case. Your PPC doctor recommends starting new campaigns on a maximize clicks bid strategy and then moving to maximize conversions once your campaign has generated some conversion data. New campaigns don’t have any associated conversion data, so the algorithm doesn’t have data to inform what keywords and audiences do and do not convert. It cannot optimize your campaign for maximum conversions until it collects data on what does and does not convert.

With Maximize Clicks, Google’s algorithm will serve your ads to people based on your keywords, targeting settings, and other real-time auction signals. It will then acquire data on who does and does not convert. Make sure your conversion tracking and goals are set up correctly while on Maximize Clicks so that Google can learn what types of people do and do not convert for your business. Set a CPC bid limit so your campaign doesn’t burn too much money while on Max Clicks. A $2-$3 bid limit usually does the trick, but this doctor recommends a more analytical approach. Look at the average CPC for all the keywords in your campaign and choose a bid cap close to the most expensive average CPC so you don’t lose out on traffic. Then, keep an eye on spend and decrease your bid cap if needed. Google can spend up to twice your daily budget, so maintain a watchful eye.

After 3-4 weeks on Maximize Clicks, you should see a decent number of conversions generated. I’d say the algorithm needs at least 30 conversions before you should switch to Max Conversions. After a few months on Max Conversions, I recommend adding a target CPA at the campaign or ad group level. Review CPA for each ad group over the past 30-60 days. Does actual CPA vary significantly from group to group? If so, you’ll want to set a separate CPA target for each ad group.

If you want to achieve more efficient CPAs, set a target 10-20% lower than your historical CPA. The CPA target you set should be no more than 20% more efficient than your historical CPA, as setting too tight of a target will suffocate spend. If/when the ad group’s actual CPA hits the target, you can decrease the target by another 20% to get even more efficient. Continue this stair-stepping approach until you hit your desired CPA. If you experience any strange or unexpected symptoms during the process, just contact your PPC doctors. We’re here to help!

Q: I’m running paid media for an in-house brand and seeking help with my paid search campaigns. Thanks to good performance, I got some additional budget from management, but when I increased the budgets for my campaigns, my ROAS got worse. Why did this happen and how can I fix it?

This could be a symptom of many different conditions. Here are some of the most common diagnoses: 

Over Saturation: One of the golden rules of paid media is the cost vs. efficiency tradeoff. The basic concept here is that the more you spend, the less efficient your CPA or ROAS will become. If the campaign was already effectively reaching most of its target audience, increasing the budget might lead to diminishing returns. This can happen if the ads start reaching less relevant segments of the audience or if the frequency becomes too high, causing ad fatigue.

Although your ROAS/CPA may not be as good as it was before raising your budgets, you should still see an increase in conversion volume. It’s up to you to determine the minimum ROAS or maximum CPA you’re willing to hit to gain additional conversions. You can also try expanding your keyword or audience targeting to reach different types of potential customers.

Bid Strategy and Competition: Increasing the budget may have altered how your bids compete in the auction environment, especially if you use automated bidding. This can inadvertently raise your cost-per-click (CPC) without necessarily improving the quality of the traffic, as the system may bid more aggressively to use up the increased budget. Try tightening your ROAS or CPA target to mitigate this.

Quality of Ad Creative and Landing Page: If the increase in budget wasn't accompanied by a review and optimization of the ad creatives and landing pages, the additional traffic might not be well-served. Ensuring that ads and the user experience on the landing page are optimized is crucial for converting increased traffic into actual results.

Q: Why is the logo getting 90% of the clicks for my Demand Gen campaign?

A: The logo is displayed alongside your assets, so this just means people are clicking on your logo instead of other elements of your ad. This is fine, clicks are clicks! But if you want to increase engagement with your ads’ other creative elements, consider using more compelling calls to action.

We'll be back next week to answer more of the internet's burning paid media questions. Looking for your own diagnosis? Submit your question here.

Lauren Neels

Marin Software
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