PPCAdvanced PPC Optimization Tips for adCenter: Bidding by Match Type

Advanced PPC Optimization Tips for adCenter: Bidding by Match Type

Thoughtful match type bidding can help you immediately realize performance gains by maximizing volume and lowering your costs per click. Here’s a guide to explicit vs. implicit bidding, common mistakes, and profitable match type best practices.

Yahoo Search Bing PPCWe all want to improve our performance on adCenter. Managing your negative keywords in adCenter is one effective strategy for making the most of your adCenter investment.

Another strategy that can help you immediately realize performance gains is thoughtful match type bidding. This can increase volume and lower costs per click (CPCs).

Before we dive in, let’s talk about the two different types of bidding available in adCenter.

Explicit vs. Implicit Bidding

Explicit bidding occurs when every active match type of each keyword – the exact, phrase and broad bid – have each been assigned a bid. When you’re employing explicit bidding, you’re bidding on one specific match type and telling adCenter that’s what you want; you are expressly telling adCenter that it cannot allow bids to be implied from other match types.

Implicit bidding, also known as bid inheritance, lets you set a bid on a phrase or broad match type, and then tells adCenter to allow bids for more restrictive match types to be inherited or implied from the bids you’ve already set. For example, if you place a $4.00 bid on a Broad phrase match, that would mean that the phrase bid and exact bid would also be $4.00 – because the phrase and exact bids are more restrictive match types than the broad bid, the broad bid amount would be implied or passed on to them.

In summary:

Implicit bidding BAD!

Explicit bidding GOOD!

What Mistakes Are Most Advertisers Making Now?

Currently, almost every adCenter user either uses implicit bidding or sets the same bid explicitly to every match type. By doing so, the advertiser feels like he or she has covered all of their bases, and technically, they have. But what they’ve also done is inadvertently created more competition for themselves and actually made it less likely that the Exact match ad group will actually garner all of the available exact impressions.

If triplicating your bids doesn’t sound like a profitable path forward for your campaigns, then you’re following my logic pretty well. Here are the best practices that I suggest instead.

1. Always Set Match Type Bids to the Following Ratios

AdCenter engineers gave me this tip and after implementing them, I can assure you it works as advertised! These ratios reflect the way the adCenter algorithms function and applying them increases the odds that your ads are not only qualified for the auction, but also that your ads are always competitive in every auction – hence you will get much more volume this way. This bid management strategy is really simple:

  • Phrase bids should always be set to 75 percent of exact bids.
  • Broad bids should always be set to 85 percent of exact bids.

See. Simple.

2. If All Match Types are in the Same Ad Group

For example, imagine you have an adGroup called “Boat” that has been running for a while. For the ‘Boat’ adGroup, you already have a $5.00 exact bid. Based on the bid ratios we provided earlier, you would then set a $3.65 phrase bid, and a $4.25 broad bid.


  • When setting bids on brand new keywords, always set your exact bid to at least $0.40 to make sure you pass the minimum bid threshold. Anything below that threshold is at a very high risk of not being eligible for auction.
  • You should always use {matchtype} URL parameter to track click performance by match type. There is a special report called “delivered match type keyword performance” where you can find out how different match types are performing.

3. If Match Types are in Separate Ad groups, Force Match Type by Explicitly Setting Unwanted Bids to $0.05

Another best practice is to force the decision on which match type to use by using explicit bids and setting the match types we wish to exclude from the auction to the lowest possible bid ($0.05 in the U.S.).

In this strategy, you’ll triplicate your keywords in the three distinct groups – one for each exact, phrase, and broad match. Once you’ve finished your grouping, you’ll set bids in the following manner:


  • In the “Exact” ad group, you’ll set the bid based on campaign and client objectives; in the example above, the bid is set at $5.00. Don’t activate phrase or broad match.
  • In the “Phrase” ad group, you’ll set the phrase bid to 75 percent of the exact bid, and then you’ll set the exact bid to $0.05. Don’t set a bid for broad.
  • In the “Broad” ad group, you’ll set the broad bid to 85 percent of the exact bid, and then you’ll set the phrase and exact bids to $0.05 each

Why are we going to the trouble of setting up $0.05 bids on certain exact and phrase matches? By reducing the bids of exact matches in the non-exact ad groups to $0.05, these instances are extremely likely to be filtered out and won’t participate in the auction.

What does this mean? Your exact matches are more likely to end up in the exact ad group than to inadvertently be delivered via the broad or phrase matches, keeping your volume high and prices as low as they should be.

Next Time

My series on adCenter PPC optimization continues next time, when we’ll discuss strategic keyword expansion methods to fill the match gaps. If you have no idea what this means, make sure to come back to Search Engine Watch to read it – because this one is absolutely key to your success in adCenter.

If you have any questions or comments on the material above, don’t hesitate to comment below. Also for those of you who actually go forward with these recommendations, would you mind sharing the results with the community?


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