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:
- How low could I bid on a keyword while maintaining a good ad position?
- How much extra might it cost to significantly improve ad position?
- How can I increase website traffic without significantly raising my costs?
- For which keywords should I alter my ad spend?
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:
- Google Ads bid simulators (first, below)
- Bing’s Bid Landscape (second, below)
- Facebook’s Estimated Daily Results (third, below)
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:
- Number of impressions your ad could have shown
- How many clicks it could have received for those impressions
- How much those clicks could have cost
- Conversion rate
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:
- Click Campaigns, Ad groups, or Keywords
- 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:
- View bid changes in aggregate and model changes even when keywords or ad groups may not have enough data for this on their own
- Bid scaling allows you to see what might happen if you increased or decreased all your bids by a specific percentage
- Google alerts you if you should increase your budget — and, if so, what amount to change it to — since campaign-level bid changes can increase traffic significantly
- Preview what would happen if you changed all your bids in the campaign to a fixed value (if you choose to apply one of these campaign-wide bid changes, your ad group default bids will be changed to this fixed value, and your keyword-level bids will be erased)
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:
- Not enough data: Bid simulators use data from the last 7 days to provide estimates, so they might not be able to if a campaign, keyword, ad group, or product group was just added or didn’t receive many clicks in the last 7 days.
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.
- Shared budget: If your campaign uses shared budgets, the campaign bid simulator will not be available.
- Max daily budget: If your campaign has reached (or nearly reached) its daily budget at least once in the last 7 days, Google bid simulators may not be able to provide estimates.
- Certain bidding options: Bid simulators will not work with campaigns that use Manual CPC, Enhanced CPC, or Target CPA bid strategies.
- Running experiments: The Google Ads bid simulators do not work with campaigns that have running experiments, or experiments that have ended within the last 8 days.
- Shopping campaign product groups that use the Item ID attribute: The bid simulator is unavailable for product groups that use the Item ID attribute.
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.
To ensure your campaign’s ad clicks turn into conversions, create dedicated, fast-loading post-click pages for every offer. See how to provide all of your audiences with unique post-click landing pages by signing up for an Instapage Enterprise Demo today.
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