Manual Bidding vs. Automated Bidding For Google Ads Campaigns

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In our most recent article, How to Choose the Right Bidding Strategies for Your Google Ads Campaigns, we discussed the various bidding strategies that Google has to offer. We explored how each approach comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks, influencing the overall success of your campaigns. In this article, we focus on the intricacies of manual and automated bidding to help you make an informed decision for your advertising strategy.


But first, let’s do a quick recap of what each of these methods mean and how they work.


Manual Bidding:

Manual bidding and automated bidding are two distinct approaches to managing bids within Google Ads. Manual bidding involves the advertiser manually setting bid amounts for individual keywords or ad groups. This hands-on approach allows for precise control over bid strategy, enabling adjustments based on specific goals, market conditions, or performance metrics. Advertisers using manual bidding have the flexibility to allocate budgets strategically and make real-time adjustments to optimize campaign performance.


Automated Bidding:

On the other hand, automated bidding relies on machine learning algorithms to determine bid amounts dynamically. These algorithms analyze vast datasets, considering various factors such as user behavior, device type, and demographics to make informed bid decisions. Automated bidding aims to optimize for specific goals, such as maximizing conversions or achieving a target return on ad spend. While it offers efficiency and scalability, automated bidding requires a learning phase as the algorithms adapt to campaign nuances, and advertisers may have limited control over individual bid adjustments.


Smart Bidding:

As we previously discussed, smart bidding is a type of automated bidding that works a little differently than traditional automated bidding. The main difference between smart bidding and automated bidding is that smart bidding utilizes a feature called “auction-time bidding,” which uses Google’s AI to optimize for conversions or conversion value at each and every auction. While there are differences between smart bidding and automated bidding, smart bidding is considered to be under the same umbrella as automated bidding. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the term “automated bidding”; however, just note that smart bidding will be included within that term.


Now that we have a foundational understanding of what manual and automated bidding are, let’s delve into the pros and cons of each.


Manual Bidding:



  • Precision and Control:

    Manual bidding empowers advertisers with precise control over the bid amount for each keyword or ad group. This hands-on approach allows for meticulous fine-tuning based on campaign objectives and performance metrics.


  • Flexibility:

    Advertisers can quickly respond to market changes, competitor actions, or specific promotional events by adjusting bids in real-time. This flexibility is crucial for maximizing returns during critical periods.


  • Strategic Targeting:

    With manual bidding, advertisers can strategically allocate budgets to high-performing keywords or focus on specific audience segments. This strategic targeting ensures resources are utilized efficiently to reach the desired audience.



  • Time-Consuming:

    The granular control offered by manual bidding comes at the cost of time investment. Advertisers need to constantly monitor and adjust bids, which can be challenging for large-scale campaigns.


  • Limited Scalability:

    Manual bidding may become impractical for expansive campaigns due to its time-consuming nature. Scaling efforts while maintaining precision can be a daunting task.


Automated Bidding:



  • Efficiency and Time-Saving:

    Automated bidding leverages machine learning algorithms to analyze vast amounts of data and make bid adjustments in real-time. This efficiency allows advertisers to save time and focus on broader strategic aspects.


  • Optimized for Conversions:

    Automated bidding strategies, such as Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) or Target ROAS (Return on Ad Spend), are designed to optimize for specific conversion goals. This can lead to improved overall campaign performance.


  • Data-Driven Insights:

    Automated bidding algorithms process large datasets to identify patterns and trends, providing advertisers with valuable insights for refining their overall strategy.




  • Limited Control:

    While automation streamlines bid management, it might not cater to the nuanced strategies some advertisers prefer. Those seeking hands-on control may find the automation limitations restrictive.


  • Learning Curve:

    Implementing automated bidding requires a learning curve as algorithms adapt to campaign nuances. During this phase, performance may fluctuate before stabilizing.


The decision between manual and automated bidding hinges on the specific needs and goals of your advertising campaigns. Manual bidding provides control and flexibility, ideal for those who prefer a hands-on approach. On the other hand, automated bidding offers efficiency, scalability, and data-driven optimization, catering to advertisers looking to streamline their processes.


Ultimately, the key lies in finding the right balance. Many successful campaigns often employ a hybrid approach, combining the precision of manual bidding with the efficiency of automated strategies. Regular monitoring, testing, and adaptation are crucial for staying ahead in the ever-evolving landscape of online advertising.

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