Today we will talk about different bidding strategies and how to get the “best clicks” from your traffic source. Even if you’re not a media buyer, this article can be interesting for you in the near future.
Because Pushground is a RTB (real time bidding) platform, we’ll cover the strategies that are suitable for this type of traffic source. Please make sure not to use this guide for platforms such Google Ads or Bing, which use “quality score” metrics. In this guide we’re going to work with both CPC and CPM bids (excluding smart CPM).
But… What's the main problem from a media buyer point of view when using a DSP platform?
How to get the best traffic at the minimum cost - that’s it.
Unfortunately it’s not very likely that you will get the perfect traffic at the lowest bids. Actually, when bids are especially low, you’ll get bad quality or bot traffic.
On the other hand, when you bid high, you win the best traffic. Yet this can completely ruin your campaign in terms of ROI and CPA.
So your goal here will be to find the gold middle.
Here’s a simple scenario of how to do it:
- Start with a quite high bid: once you have a little bit of data (around 5000 impressions when buying CPC), stop the traffic. Analyze your data - clicks, CTR, bot traffic, conversions (if there are any). Please keep in mind that this system won’t work with smart CPM bidding!
- Reduce the bid by 30%. Again, wait until you have collected some data (you need the same amount of clicks/impressions than before, more or less). Check the results again - is there any significant drop in the traffic quality? Is there bot traffic? How have the conversions changed? Has the CTR changed?
- In the case there’s a significant drop in the traffic quality, it’s time to test a bid in between the 1st and 2nd bid. If the quality is still good, you can again decrease the bid by 30%.
- Continue repeating this three steps until you find the optimal bid for your campaign (the lowest bid where you can get the higher quality)
When doing this practice, be sure to do it in one-time intervals. For example, if you're testing a dating campaign, don’t run the first half of the test in the morning and the other half in the evening. Start the test at 22h and finish it at 01h, for example.
Besides, you need to keep a few things in mind
- The traffic quality is likely to change over time. Why?
a. A competitor can start bidding more than you (don’t forget we’re talking about real time bidding platforms)
b. banner blindness: network users can get tired of the creatives
c. your competitor’s creatives might have a greater CTR than yours and the network’s algorithm prefers to show them
- The bidding situation will change soon or later - because of this, review your bidding strategy from time to time, make sure to track all the data and be prepared to make changed when they’re needed
- Sometimes, even the network’s representatives don’t know exactly how their algorithm works, so you need to test and create your strategies.
I know that some of you are thinking right now: “I’ll always stay on the competitive bid and my campaign will continue being profitable”.
Sometimes, this strategy can be successful, but most times it won’t.
And here are the reasons why
- You don’t know who your competitor for the top bid is. It can be a brand media buyer who has more budget, for example, and therefore more economic margin.
- You don’t know the offers of your competitors and how long they’ve been running the campaigns you are competing against. Maybe their funnel is already very optimised and the payout is much higher than yours.
- In Tier 1 GEOs you will compete against the “big fishes” who have deep pockets, it’s quite difficult to beat them. Basically because they’ve got the budget and already know the game. That’s why it’s better to start with Tier 2 and Tier 3 GEOs.
Then, what can you do instead?
You can break your main campaign into different sub campaigns - you can split test them by targeting options. One for iOS, the other for Android, etc. You can even separate them on OS versions. This might seem like a lot of work but it pays off: it’s the way to make your campaign profitable, to scale it and to discover what works for it.
What can you do when your campaign is dying?
First of all - don’t panic. This is quite normal and it will surely happen sooner or later.
Second - when it happens, don’t increase the bid. You can stop / clone the campaign. Add new creatives with slightly different changes, make sure they look different than the previous ones to fight the banner blindness. Then start the process again.
Who will get the “better” traffic when both my competitor and mine’s bids are the same?
This is where the algorithms enter the game. They work like this:
- If the CTR from your ad creatives is higher, you’ll win.
- The daily budget is important: the higher the better.
- Your available funds are also important - when you’re running out of money, your spending speed is being decreased by the system. So better to stay safe and always have balance in your account.
- Gold and Platinum users will always have traffic priority on the same bid, compared to Bronze and Silver users.
How can you deal with the competition? - it’s a hard task but not impossible
Here you’ve got some strategies in order to do it, but please use them at your own risk and with caution - don’t forget the competitors have experience too!
- Scare the competition with a high bid: you desperately want the whole traffic from a particular zone or placement, and you don’t need a competitor there. Just clone your existing campaign, set the minimum daily budget for the duplicated campaign and put it on the higher bid, which will for sure scare
- Make them burn their daily budget - once you notice that someone is bidding a bit higher than what you want to pay, slowly start raising your bid until you figure out what they’ve entered as their maximum possible bid. There’s a good chance that this is way higher than you’d like to pay. Now, set your bid to just below that maximum.
This way you’ll force them to burn their daily budget as fast as possible. Keep an eye on the placement (either manually or with a bot) and soon or later you’ll see the daily budget drais, at which point you’ll have less competition and will be able to re-price the bid radically cheaper.
Warning: this cannot work with big agencies or brand media buyers!
Remember to lower your maximum bid at this point. You don’t want to fall victim for the same trick you used.
- Don’t use round numbers: most media buyers use round numbers such as 0.10, 0.20, 0.50, sometimes mixed with 0.15, 0.35, etc. Think outside the box and bid something like 0.11, 0.21, 0.38, etc. This will bring you more opportunities to find the optimal bid.
Before saying goodbye, as always I’m going to give you some Pro Tips:
- Always talk to your account manager before starting your campaigns. They are here to help you!
They will give you all the tips & insights you need to start. From which targeting options are the best, to which GEOs you could try, which verticals are working best at the moment, etc. You’ll be surprised to discover how many media buyers don’t contact their AMs at first. At the end, the users who have had a close relationship with their account manager since the beginning are the ones who succeed the most - we have each other’s back!
- Don’t change your bid too often - don’t play with it every hour: the algorithm needs time and sometimes it’s better to just change it once a day.
- Slowly increase your bid: by maximum 10%-15% from the previous one.
- Don’t be emotional: everyone wants to win here, but bid wars are not needed. Before making changes take a look at your data, analyse it and make the proper changes!
- If it’s not possible for you to win the bidding war, clone your campaigns multiple times and take the traffic from #2, #3, #4, #5 spots.
- Remember that your goal here is to not take the higher bid, but to take the optimal one. Your goal is To Make Money! If you see that there’s no chance to make a profit, stop your campaign and don’t be stubborn. Go for a new angle and test, test, test!
That’s all friends! Wish you luck and happy bidding :)