What Is an Advertising Bid Simulator & How Does It Help You Estimate Campaign Results?

Last updated on by Stephanie Mialki in Google Ads

Bidding on keywords lends itself to a certain amount of interpretation. Deciding on your starting bids, projecting a bid’s impact on ad performance, and figuring out how to adjust different bids over time involves a certain level of guesswork.

However, there are several PPC tools available now to help remove some of that guesswork, including advertising bid simulators.

What is an advertising bid simulator?

Simulator tools help advertisers discover useful information about their bids — the potential impact of their bid on advertising results, and how altering them could affect their campaigns.

They provide insight into questions such as:

In essence, simulation data can help you figure out the trade-off between click volume and cost. And since this information can be extremely useful, several platforms offer it:

Today we’re going to focus on Google’s bid simulator tools, since Google has the majority of the market share.

Google Ads bid simulators

Google’s bid simulators show advertisers the potential impact of their bid on advertising results like impressions, clicks, cost, etc.

They collect and analyze data (from the past 7 days) from ad auctions on the Search and Display Network — while considering other information such as Quality Score, keyword traffic, and competition in the ad auction — to show what could have happened with a different max CPC.

Specifically, they calculate:

So while bid simulator tools can’t predict future performance, you can still use the determined information to make the best campaign decisions going forward.

For instance, if you currently have a max CPC bid of $1 for a keyword phrase, but you’re interested in seeing what results you might see with a higher or lower bid of $1.50 or $0.75, Google’s bid simulators can show you estimates of the clicks, cost, impressions, conversions, and conversion value you may have seen with max CPC bids of $1.50 or $0.75 for your keyword phrase.

Similarly, to determine how much it’s going to cost to make a significant improvement in ad position, the simulator tool can help with that.

For example, if it costs $5.82 on average to stay in ad position 3, and you want to know the cost to jump up to position 2 or even number 1, the estimator will show lists of projected impressions at various price points.

You can also estimate your bid simulator results at scale by using the Google Ads API.

Note: Active bid adjustments for campaigns or ad groups are taken into account during simulations.

What campaign types are applicable?

Bid simulators work on Search, Display, and Search with Display opt-in campaigns (in a “Search and Display Select” campaign, only the search portion of the traffic is simulated).

To find the bid simulator in Google Ads:

  1. Click Campaigns, Ad groups, or Keywords
  2. Click the bid simulator icon
    • In Campaigns, the icon is in the “Daily budgets” column
    • In Ad groups or Keywords, the icon is in the “Default max. CPC” column

That said, here are the different campaign types you can use the Google Ads bid simulator:

Regular bid simulator

Demonstrates how changes to your max CPC bid could change the cost or the number of clicks, impressions, conversions, and conversion value your ads would’ve received for your keyword or ad group (found on the Ad groups and Keywords tabs).

Campaign bid simulator

Shows how changes to your campaign’s bids might affect that campaign’s performance (found on the Campaigns tab).

Shopping campaigns bid simulator

Indicates how certain changes to your bid could have impacted your product group’s clicks, cost, impressions, and conversions (found on the Product groups tab).

Video campaigns bid simulator

Estimates how changes to your max CPV might impact your typical weekly video traffic (found on the Campaigns tab).

Hotel campaigns bid simulator

Helps you know how changes to your max CPC or max CPC% bid may have impacted your hotel group’s recent clicks, cost, impressions, and conversions (found on the Hotel groups tab).

Target CPA simulator

Shows how changes to your target CPA might affect your number of conversions (found on the Campaigns tab or in the Shared library).

Note: This simulator is available for both standard target CPA bid strategies (a single campaign) and portfolio target CPA bid strategy (multiple campaigns and ad groups attached to a single bid strategy).

Device bid adjustment simulator

Used to compare the potential impact of setting a mobile, tablet, or desktop bid adjustment on clicks, cost, and impressions (this simulator does not provide information on estimated conversion).

Note: This simulator is only available for Search and Shopping campaigns that have served ads on mobile devices, and takes into account your existing campaign settings, including your existing max CPC bids, enhanced CPC bids, location bid adjustments, ad scheduling bid adjustments, and remarketing bid adjustments.

Call bid adjustment simulator

Demonstrates how changes to your call interaction bid might affect the performance of your Google Ad call extensions.

What are the benefits to using a bid simulator?

According to Google, there are multiple reasons advertisers should be using a bid simulator to enhance their campaigns:

Overall, the tool provides increased transparency into the Google Ads auction and gives you the insight to make more informed bidding decisions in your campaigns going forward.

Bid simulators may not always be available

If a simulator is unavailable, the bid simulator icon will be greyed out. Here are some common reasons why:

Note: If you recently added a new campaign, keyword, ad group, or product group, check back after more time has passed. If you don’t have many impressions, increasing your bids may help with more exposure.

Improve your conversion data with Google Ads bid simulators

Whether you’re running a shopping campaign, a hotel campaign, or any other PPC campaign, remove some of the guesswork involved with keyword bidding (and adjusting those bids) by using Google’s bid simulators. These helpful tools enable you to discover the potential impact of your bid on advertising results, and assist you in deciding how to alter them going forward for the best campaign results.

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