Add3 – Digital Marketing Agency with offices in Seattle & Portland

Here at Add3 we typically like to stay away from anything automated when it comes to account changes. We’ve heard story after story of things going awry when relying on automation, from keyword bids being decreased to zero to an unexpected jump in CPA because there was a glitch in conversion tracking.

However, recently we tested out an automated bid strategy, target outranking share, in one of our accounts and saw great results. With close monitoring and strategic planning, this bid strategy was used to get ahead of a competitor and ensure top position on certain keywords. We were able to rely on Google’s algorithm to increase bids on keywords when the time was right.

For this client, a competitor started to increase impression share on their branded terms; however, the client was still in position one in the search results. Eventually, the competitor started to show up above our client, which is definitely not what we wanted. Rather than just increasing our max CPCs bid to get ahead, we wanted something more controlled. Alas, the target outranking share bid strategy was the solution.


This bid strategy was ideal for us when we wanted to show up ahead of a competitor in the search results 100% of the time with a disregard for a potential jump in CPCs. This bid strategy can be set at the campaign, ad group, or keyword level. In this example, the client wanted to be ahead of a competitor on specific keywords, so the bid strategy was set at the keyword level. Implementing this strategy was done very easily in Adwords.

First, we chose the domain that we wanted to outrank in the search results. In some cases, Google will suggest domains that have been bidding on the same terms as shown in the auction insights, but in our case, we manually entered the domain. We also knew we wanted to outrank this specific competitor 100% of the time, but we also had the option of selecting a different percentage if we wanted to run a test.

The bid automation selection was also set to automatic and we did not have a bid limit since showing above the competitor was more important than CPCs. In our case, this strategy was used on a branded term that had a 10/10 quality score, so there was no need to select otherwise on the “low-quality keywords” section. This is a section that could increase CPCs drastically if not thoroughly thought out. If you select to raise bids on keywords with a low-quality score, it could get very costly and CPCs could potentially be raised exponentially if a max bid limit is not also set.


Soon after implementation, we were seeing results. We were consistently showing up in position one with only a slight increase in CPCs. Soon after that, we started to see the competitor nearly drop out of all auctions entirely. While there is not a way to figure out exactly why, our guess is that CPCs simply became too expensive for that competitor that they stopped bidding on those branded terms.


It’s important to note that while this bid strategy attempts to achieve the desired outranking share, the final ad placement is still determined by the outcome of the ad auction taking into account quality score. There is still a chance that the quality score difference between you and a competitor is too large that a bid increase is simply not enough.

As you can see, without careful set-up and monitoring, costs could have increased quickly. In the end, implementing this bid strategy was a positive move for us and we got the results we needed to achieve the client’s goals.

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Rachel Blakeman

About Rachel Blakeman

Rachel is an SEM Account Coordinator at Add3. As a Seattle newbie, she enjoys spending as much time as possible exploring the outdoors in the PNW and enjoying all it has to offer. While stuck indoors, you'll find her baking, playing board games, and spending time with family & friends.

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