Paid Search Tip: Use Intra-day Bidding to Optimize Results

James Varughese | March 24, 2015

Is intra-day bidding really necessary to optimize your paid search campaigns? Or is bidding once a day or less enough to get the results search engine marketers need?

Search engine marketers are constantly being asked to do more with less. It’s no wonder, then, that one of the questions most asked by SEM pros is:

“What can I do right now that will have the fastest positive impact on my search program?”

The answer: intra-day bidding.

Why? An analysis of real-world advertisers using intra-day keyword bidding shows an immediate 20%+ efficiency improvement in their campaigns.


Paid search bids can vary widely throughout the day, creating an SEM Efficiency Gap.

Think about it: The value of your keywords changes throughout the day, so why shouldn’t the price you’re paying change as well? Analyzing not just day of month or day of week trends, but hour of day (intra-day) trends provides critical insights advertisers can use to optimize bids. For example, you may want to bid more aggressively during periods when performance is high, and more conservatively when demand is lower.

So, how do you get started?

Step 1: Collect Keyword-level Data: Gather your cost, click, average position, max CPC, conversion, etc., data segmented by day and hour. Start with your top drivers of performance before culling lower trafficked keywords.

Step 2: Analyze Your Data: Don’t settle for average. Many times, the average performance across an entire day is used to set bids, but further segmentation will show when and where opportunities exist.

Step 3: Create a Plan: Set up a schedule to manage changes in bids based on their performance trends during the day.

Step 4: Start Changing Bids: You can even automate this process using a bidding engine to keep up with market changes throughout the day.

Step 5: Collect enough data to make new decisions and return to Step 1.

Using this approach, you should begin to see an immediate 10-20% uplift in your campaign performance. In fact, one of the most surprising outcomes advertisers report after adopting an intra-day bidding strategy are improvements in areas that were thought to be operating at peak efficiency among both brand and non-brand keywords.