Bid by Position Preference – Post AdWords Feature Removal

Ryan Moothart

Most of the time, I love Google. But sometimes they throw a curve ball at me and make my life more difficult. On Tuesday, Google announced it’s removing the preferred position bidding feature from AdWords starting in early May and accounts can no longer begin using the feature effective immediately. And I was having such a good morning when I read about this too (sigh).

If you manage your PPC accounts through a third party program (such as Click Equations) that allows you to utilize preferred position bidding, then your accounts won’t be affected. If you stick with the AdWords interface, however, then you’re going to have to get creative. It will be possible to bid by position preference once AdWords removes the feature; you will just have to use automated rules.

Let’s say you have select keywords in an ad group which you want to bid to the number 1 position. Here’s how you do it, step-by-step:

    1. Run a Keyword report for the past 30 days so you have a record of what you’re average position and average CPC is for each keyword in your account. You may want to use this as a reference to set your maximum CPC bids later.
    2. Select a campaign, go to the keywords tab, and select the keywords which you want to set a position preference for.
    3. Click the “Automate” dropdown box, and select the “Change max CPC bids when…” option.
AdWords CPC rules requirements
    1. Change the “Apply to” dropdown box to “Selected Keywords.”
    2. Ensure that the “Automatic action” dropdown box is selected to “Raise bid” and then type in a percentage you want to increase your maximum CPC bid by in the event a selected keyword starts falling below the number 1 position.
AdWords CPC rules requirements
    1. In the box with the “$” next to it, type in the amount you do not want to pay over in the event this rule is automatically enacted.
    2. Change the first “Requirements” dropdown box to “Avg. Position” and the second to the “worse than” option.
    1. Type in in a position number (can include one decimal point) that you do not want your average position to drop below. For example, if I want my selected keywords to stay in the number 1 position, but am ok with them appearing in the number 2 spot occasionally, I might type in “1.2” to help keep my avg. CPC a little bit lower than if I just typed in “1.”
    2. Set the first “Frequency” dropdown box to “Daily,” the second to the time every day at which you want this rule to check and go into effect if necessary, and the third to select the time range of data the rule compares current data to.
  1. Name the automated rule and set it to e-mail you alerts if you wish.
  2. Preview the results, adjust anything if necessary, and save.

Voila! You’re set. You can use this list as a template to set other position preference rules as well, such as keeping your ads below the second position but above the fifth. Furthermore, you can create up to ten automated rules.

If you use the position preference feature in AdWords currently, you have the rest of April to enjoy it. However, you should begin making the transition to automated rules in the next week or two before the feature disappears entirely.

Ryan Moothart
PPC Architect

Ryan is a PPC Architect and has been with Portent since 2010. He has over nine years of hands-on PPC experience including large-scale e-commerce, international B2B lead gen, and everything in between. Graduating from Willamette University with a BA in Rhetoric and Media Studies, he became a published author in 2016 with the release of his book, Towards Cascadia, which is a non-fiction exploration of Pacific Northwest identity, bioregionalism, and nationhood. He and his husband, Paul, enjoy traveling and are avid followers of Sounders FC, Seattle’s Major League Soccer club.

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