Everything You Need To Know About Value-Bidding in Google Ads (With Real Example)

Everything You Need To Know About Value-Bidding in Google Ads (With Real Example)

August 15, 2023
Marketing Two Cents

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Beyond Clicks: How Value Bidding Elevates Your Google Ads Campaigns

Welcome to the world of value-based bidding strategy in Google Ads, where maximising conversion value within your budget and optimising for your business goals takes centre stage. If you're unfamiliar with this strategy or looking to learn how to apply it effectively in real business cases, you've come to the right place. In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of value-based bidding strategy through frequently asked questions, providing you with clear explanations, actionable insights, and helpful resources to enhance your understanding. So, let's dive in!

Before we begin, thanks Ginny Marvin for providing useful definition in LinkedIn which helps me expand based on a good foundation (you can find the credit and reference links at the end of the article).

What is value-based bidding?

Value-based bidding (VBB) is a bidding strategy that aims to maximise conversion value while adhering to your budget and, if desired, a target return on ad spend (ROAS). By optimising for auctions predicted to deliver high conversion value, VBB ensures that you generate the highest total value of conversions within your constraints. Unlike maximising conversions or target cost-per-action (tCPA) bidding, VBB focuses on delivering more valuable conversions rather than solely increasing conversion volume.

Value-based Bidding Implementation Steps

Value-based Bidding Implementation Steps
Step Description Actual Step Stakeholder Tools
1 Create new conversion action in Google Ads Go to your Google Ads account, click on "Tools & Settings" in the top right corner, select "Conversions" under "Measurement," then click the "+ Conversion" button. Follow the prompts to set up a new conversion action, and choose "Value" as the conversion value type. Google Ads Platform Google Ads
2 Modify Lead Form Add a hidden field in your website's lead form that will pass the GCLID (Google Click Identifier) through to the CRM. This GCLID will act as a unique identifier for matching offline sales with the corresponding form submissions. CRM Administrator + Web Developer Active Campaign
3 Modify CRM Backend Ensure that the CRM is set up to store the GCLID received from the lead form. This step ensures that the CRM can process and link the GCLID data with the offline sales data. CRM Administrator Active Campaign
4 Implement JavaScript Implement JavaScript code on your website to capture and store the GCLID from the URL parameters, and populate it into the hidden form field for submission. This step enables the GCLID to be passed to the CRM along with the form data. Web Developer Google Tag Manager, Javascript
5 Match Offline Sales with First-Party Data Use the customer email address or your self-defined user ID as a unique identifier to connect the offline sale with the CRM form submission. This matching process ensures accurate attribution of conversions to specific leads or customers. CRM Administrator Excel
6 Upload Data to Google Ads Choose one of the following options to upload the offline conversion data to Google Ads: 1) CRM Integration, 2) API Upload via Google Ads API, 3) Scheduled Upload with selected frequency, 4) Manual Upload, or 5) Upload via Google Ads interface. These methods allow Google Ads to receive and process the offline conversion data. CRM Administrator Direct Import like Salesforce, Hubspot or Zapier
Google Ads API
Direct Manual Upload
7 Choose Conversion Action for Optimization In your Google Ads account, go to "Tools & Settings," select "Conversions" under "Measurement," and click on the conversion action you set up for offline conversions. Choose "Value" as the conversion value type, and then select this conversion action as the one to optimise towards in your value-based bidding strategy. Google Ads Platform Google Ads

Additional Notes:

  • Optimising towards long-term profits requires accurate projected customer values, starting with readily available values such as cost of sales and revenue.
  • The next level of value-based bidding strategy involves the Profit bidding strategy, where the dynamic value of Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) or costs of each sale is imported, and the profit value is used as the conversion value.
  • Tools that can help achieve this goal are Offline Conversion Upload and Google Tag Manager, enabling data tracking and reporting on profit data, though they may require some engineering effort.

Who should use value-based bidding? 

Value-based bidding is suitable for a wide range of businesses, including lead generation, online sales, and brick-and-mortar establishments of various sizes and conversion cycles. To leverage this strategy effectively, you need to define the value you want to maximise, such as sales revenue, profit margins, or lifetime value, and ensure you have accurate conversion data integrated into Google Ads.

Examples of Businesses Benefiting from Value-Based Bidding (VBB)
Business Type Challenging Blockers Reasons
Brick-and-mortar Business with an Online Store Difficulty attributing offline store sales to Google Ads Different products with varying Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) require dynamic profit value for accurate optimisation.
SAAS Company (Software as a Service) Challenges in attributing on-going monthly revenue to the same conversion action Use of Lifetime Value (LTV) and subscription models can benefit from accurate profit-based bidding.
E-commerce Platforms Multiple products with different profit margins Dynamic profit value optimisation helps maximise overall revenue while considering varying margins.
Lead Generation Companies Leads have different values based on the likelihood of conversion Value-based bidding allows prioritising higher-value leads to maximise return on investment.
Subscription Box Services Multiple subscription tiers with varying profit margins VBB enables optimising towards higher-profit subscription tiers for increased revenue.

What is the significance of setting a target ROAS? 

Setting a target return on ad spend (ROAS) provides an additional optimisation parameter for value-based bidding. By specifying a target ROAS, the bidding strategy will optimise towards achieving as much conversion value as possible at that target. This feature is available for individual campaigns or across multiple campaigns as part of a portfolio strategy.

Are there any conversion minimums to use value-based bidding? 

To use max conversion value bidding, you need to have conversion values tracked in your campaigns. However, if you prefer to use target ROAS bidding, different campaign types have specific conversion minimums. These requirements determine the eligibility of campaigns to utilise either the maximum conversion value bidding or the target return on ad spend (ROAS) bidding. Meeting these minimum conversion thresholds ensures that the bidding strategies can effectively optimise towards desired performance goals.

Minimum Conversion Requirements for Value-Based Bidding ,Source: Google Ads Help Center

Minimum Conversion Requirements for Value-Based Bidding (including tROAS)
Campaign Type Minimum Conversions Evaluation Timeframe
Display campaigns At least 15 conversions (with valid conversion values) in the past 30 days across all campaigns combined. New Display campaigns no longer require conversion history for Target ROAS bidding. 30 days
App campaigns At least 10 conversions every day (or 300 conversions in 30 days). Everyday or 30 days
Discovery campaigns At least 75 conversions in the past 30 days (10 of these conversions must have occurred in the past 7 days). Target ROAS is currently in beta for Discovery campaigns. 7 days and 30 days
Video Action Campaigns At least 30 conversions in the past 30 days. 30 days

What if I don't have enough bottom-funnel conversions?

If you lack sufficient bottom-funnel conversions, I recommend optimising for your lowest-funnel conversion action, such as a purchase. However, if value measurement poses a challenge, you can consider using a higher-funnel conversion action, like checkout. This is similar to my article How to Optimise Your Facebook Ad Structure. Additionally, simplifying campaign structures, utilising shared budgets, and implementing portfolio strategies can help mitigate this issue.

How long should you wait to measure tROAS performance? 

My article What's the Best PPC Bidding Strategy? gives a detailed run down on the best learning time for each bidding strategy. I typically recommend giving the bid strategy about 4 weeks or 15 conversion cycles before evaluating its performance. And please feed in your economic value as much as possible within 12 days of your significant edit. This timeframe allows the strategy enough time to learn and adapt to your campaign data. Keep in mind that it may take longer to gather sufficient conversion data for accurate evaluation.

Relevant Article: What's the Best PPC Bidding Strategy?

Doesn't Google know the meaning behind the values you pass for bidding? 

Machine Learning is different from how people extract information and make analogies. Unlike humans, Machine Learning models do not have a knowledge base and do not extract information about a specific thing. Instead, they make predictions based on the probability and patterns of the sequence of words/data/parameters. As a result, they may pick up on patterns in your input that you may not be aware of.

So no, Google doesn't have specific knowledge of the meanings behind the values you provide for bidding. In Instead, Google interprets these values as a scale to inform bidding decisions, helping you hit your desired targets. 

Relevant Article: An SEO's guide to understanding large language models (LLMs)

What are the best practices for using multiple conversion actions with different values? 

  1. Gauge the average value of stages in your sales funnel based on the data you currently have is my best advice (you can see my Linktree example below).
  2. Typically, I don't mix different types of conversion actions in one campaign. This means that if I'm looking at profit, revenue, or paid subscriptions, those are the actual numbers that represent the income earned. However, if I'm looking at the total cart value for actions like adding items to a cart or completing a checkout, those are just approximate numbers that represent the importance of those actions. It's important to keep these separate and not mix actual income with estimated values in one campaign.
  3. It's important to note that any conversion actions included in the "conversions" column (as primary action) are used to inform the maximum conversion value or tROAS bidding. If you mix up the conversion action value together, when they different meanings, it will not be good for the machine to find the pattern. Therefore, it's crucial to keep the actual income separate from the estimated values and not mix them in one campaign. This ensures that the machine can accurately identify patterns and make informed decisions for optimal results.

Why did your tROAS tests result in much lower traffic & conversions? 

Value-based bidding (VBB) may drive less volume than conventional conversion-based bidding. VBB prioritises maximising conversion value within your budget and ROAS constraints, so it may bid away from conversions that don't meet these parameters. Use bid simulators to understand the tradeoff between ROAS and traffic. Lowering your ROAS target will increase your reach, while raising it will likely decrease traffic but yield more valuable conversions. Make sure to evaluate via experiment and testing. 

Check out the image below to see why you should shift your bidding strategy to value/profit-based bidding. If you're using a tCPA (target CPA) strategy, Google won't adjust bids for opportunities that could bring you higher conversion value. It sticks to a fixed bid as long as the auction threshold is higher than your target CPA. But, if you opt for a value bidding strategy like maximum conversion value or target return on ad spend, Google will dynamically work towards your ROAS goal without sacrificing potential conversion opportunities. So, mate, it's time to consider value-based bidding to get the most out of your ad campaigns and boost those ROAS figures! Give it a go and see the results for yourself! 🚀

Google tends to set a hard stop if the auction threshold is higher than your tCPA, source: voyantis.ai

Can you set negative conversion values for leads you don't want to optimise for? 

Currently, it's not possible to set negative conversion values directly. But I use the value below 1 to offset the true value that action should represent. And you can utilise conversion retractions. 

Are there different options in SA360 & Google Ads for VBB? 

Yes, there are some VBB features unique to SA360 that might interest you:

  • Bid to proxy or predictive values using unified management & bid strategy optimisation across accounts & engines. While Googld Ads claims that they use account-level data for smart bidding, SA360 is able to use Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads data if you get all connected in SA360.
  • GMP stack integration to combine data sets, attribute & model across media channels & devices.
  • Budget bid strategies to automatically optimise spend toward your target during a plan.
  • SA360 Conversion value rules for Google Ads store sales/store visits, in addition to device, location, audience. These can be applied at the campaign & sub-manager level.
  • Custom variable adjustments using Custom Floodlight Variables to adjust conversion value for bidding using advertiser shared data.

Finally, Here is a step-by-step guide to bidding like a pro, with clear and structured instructions:

The logic is simple:

Three principles to create a Google Ads bidding powerhouse, source: Google

1. Define your profit formula and design your bidding stages:

Start by having a clear definition of the formula you’re trying to optimise. For example, for a retailer, it could be the sum of the product margin generated by Google Ads minus its Google Ads investment. For an insurance company, it could be the sum of the 3 year forecasted CLV of all the policies generated by Google Ads minus its Google Ads investment. For a retailer, it could be the the value of revenue minus costs of good sold (COGS).

Five stages of bidding sophistication for a insurance company, source: Google

2. Create a live dashboard:

Work with your Google team to create a live profit dashboard, updated daily, and share it with Google, your agency, your company’s C-suite, and your marketing team. This dashboard should become your main optimisation criteria. If you don’t want to share profit data & prediction with third parties, you can create the same dashboard by indexing your results.

3. Use Smart Bidding:

If you’re not using Smart Bidding, start by testing Maximum Conversion Value (MCV) if available. The equivalent strategy in SA360 is called Budget Bid Strategy. MCV is built to maximise the sum of your forecasted profits for a given marketing budget. You can then find the marketing budget that maximises your profits. Use MCV at the portfolio level across your entire account and turn on Data Driven Attribution (DDA). If you’re using another Smart Bidding strategy, test it against MCV if it makes sense. If MCV is not appropriate, use Target ROAS.

Bidding for value: How to elevate your brand - Think with Google
Bidding For Value instead of Bidding For Cost, Source: Google

4. Pass back the best conversion signal(s) possible:

Ideally, you should share with Google all the important steps of the first 14 days of the customer journey. For example, an education company should share when a prospective student requested information, started an application, finished an application, answered a call from the education company... You should also share data about your entire business, not only your online business.

Possible Ecommerce Customer Touch Points in The Website. These are good conversion signals where you can pass on your economic value, source: prisync.com

5. Pass back the Economic Value created by each conversion:

Pass back to Google a single number for each conversion, the “Economic Value” of that conversion. This Economic Value represents your best estimate of how much money the conversion has (or will) create for your business. It could be the immediate profits, the forecasted CLV profits, profits based on a lead scoring algorithm...

6. Share your attribution model:

This only works for the company that has its own attribution model & attribution credits for each touchpoint. If your attribution model is different from the one Google uses for Smart Bidding, make sure you share the results from your model. You can do this by changing the number you pass back to Google to include your attribution model. For example, if your attribution model only credit 40% for Google Ads touchpoint then you should apply that 40% to the conversion value.

You Can Combine Forecasted Economic Value of the conversion and your aribution model
Conversion (pseudo) Economic Value of conversion Aribution credit given to Google Final value sent to Google
Checkout $500 0.8 $400
Purchase $1,000 1 $1,000
Leads $1,200 0.7 $840

9. Improve the Economic Value forecast over the next 12 days:

If, at any time over the next 12 days, you can significantly improve your estimate of the Economic Value of a conversion, upload that data back to Google.

10 . Find the profit-maximising budget or we call it - Diminishing Returns Point:

MCV will maximise your profits automatically for a given daily marketing budget. The trick is then to find the marketing budget to invest every day with MCV that maximises overall profits. In order to find the profit-maximising budget:

  • - Make sure all campaigns are under one portfolio with a shared budget if the conversions are low.
  • - Use Google’s Campaign Budget Simulator tool, which forecasts the number of future conversions at different budgets, to help you set a starting point for your daily budget.
  • - Use that starting point and then increase your daily budget until you find the budget that maximises your profits. This is what we call diminishing returns point. The point of diminishing returns refers to a point after the optimal level of capacity is reached, where every added unit of production results in a smaller increase in output. It is a concept used in the field of microeconomics
  • - Then adjust your daily budget based on historical seasonality to find the optimal budget every day.
  • - Repeat this process often to continue to optimise budgets.
Example of Finding Your Diminishing Return Point
Day Budget Total prots
1 $10K $100K
2 $11K $110K
3 $12K $115K
4 $13K $117K
5 $14K $114K

Let's Wrap This Boring Part Up

Value-based bidding strategy in Google Ads is a powerful tool that enables advertisers to optimise for conversion value, aligning their campaigns with business goals and budget constraints. By understanding the concept of value-based bidding and applying it correctly, you can maximise the impact of your ad campaigns and achieve greater success. Remember to set your conversion values accurately, track the right metrics, and continuously monitor and evaluate your bidding strategy's performance. With the insights provided in this article and the resources linked below, you're now equipped to embrace value-based bidding and drive exceptional results in your advertising endeavours.

Value Bidding Real Example - Apply Bidding For Profit in Company A

Due to the confidentiality, I will call this company as Company A. Company A is a SASS company aims to get leads, sign up users, paid users and more. Similar to Linkr.io or Linkin.bio from Later.com. If you don't know what they are. You prob should read one of my link in bio articles here first to learn about the product, hence user journey:

My first goal starts simple - assign a proper value to every meaningful step(conversion action). In order to achieve that in A, I need to map the user journey before they make a purchase:

Landing on the website ---> View Pricing Page ---> Register For A Free Account ---> View Upgrade Page ---> Convert from Free User to Paid Users.

Customer Journey in The Website: Landing on the website ---> View Pricing Page ---> Register For A Free Account ---> View Upgrade Page ---> Convert from Free User to Paid Users.

I was thinking about applying the following steps to achieve a bid-for-profit strategy in our account.

  1. Stage 1 - Paid Revenue only - Standard conversion value tracking.
  2. Stage 2 - Assign a proper value to free signup with country differences (based on conversion rate, LTV:CAC ratio)
  3. Stage 3 - Import email verified signups conversion, calculate CPVL & CPVA, and assign a positive value to verified users on country-level. (using value rules)
  4. Stage 4 - Set target ROAS for each country in order to make LTV:CAC above 2
  5. Stage 5 - Introducing server cost & other business cost into conversion value tracking and only deliver net profit into every conversion action in Google Ads

Challenges I was facing:

Record cancelled Order ID & GCLID, Conversion Name after the free trial. If the account is deleted, turn the conversion value into the total value the user has paid, if downgraded to free, turn to that country's free signup value. We have to record these action within 30 days since Google Ads click attribution window is 30 days max.

Step-by-Step Guide to Implement Value-Based Bidding with Proper Value Rules

Step 1: Calculate Base Values for Each Conversion

To start with value-based bidding, we need to calculate the base values for each conversion action in our sales funnel. Here are the formulas for each conversion type:

  • Paid Subscribers:
  1. Value: The actual amount the customer pays when they subscribe (X). If the customer doesn't subscribe, the value (X) will be set to the lowest plan value available which was 7 USD.
  • Upgrade Billing Page:
  1. Value: 35.75% of X (the amount paid by the subscriber).
  • Free Users:
  1. Value: 0.45% of X (the amount paid by the subscriber).
  • Your Information Page:
  1. Value: (1.215% + 78.05% * 0.45%) of X (the amount paid by the subscriber).

Step 2: Incorporate Country-Specific Values

To reflect the differences in customer value across countries, we need to consider the "Core 4" countries (US, CA, UK, AU, and DE) where customers tend to pay more or subscribe for longer durations. We will apply a "deviation" logic to account for these variations.

Step 3: Calculate LTV Mean Average and Deviation

The logic is "deviation" logic. With all the LTV exists, there should be a mean average. We use all the LTV values combined / the total number of countries = LTV mean average. This gives us the LTV mean average.

Next, we calculate the deviation of each country's LTV from the mean average. We then find the average value of these deviations.

Step 4: Decide on Using Standard Deviation

Considering our business strategy and based on subjective observations and experience, we decide to use STD deviation, which is more logical and suitable for our needs.

Note: Standard deviation vs. Average deviation: Standard deviation is also a measure of variability within a data set, as it shows the size of deviation between all values in the data set. The main difference between the two is that the resulting values from subtracting the mean from the value of each data point are only written as absolutes when calculating the average deviation. To calculate standard deviation, the resulting values are not written in absolutes, but squared. Then, you need to calculate the mean of all the squared values. The square root of that mean is the standard mean.

Step 5: Apply Weight in Google Ads Value Rule

Now, we compare the LTV of each country with the calculated STD deviation. If the country's LTV is greater than the deviation, we will calculate a weight to apply in the Google Ads value rule. If the LTV is less than the deviation, no action will be taken.

Step 6: Calculate Additional LTV Value

Using the formula (Country LTV - STD Deviation), we determine how much additional LTV value falls outside of the standard deviation in each country.

Step 7: Determine the Percentage Adjustment]

I used (LTV - STD Deviation) = how much additional LTV value falls outside of the standard deviation. Finally, I use the subtracted value / STD= how much % I should add in the Google Ads value rule. (Due to the confidentiality I can't reveal the final result to the country level)


By implementing this value-based bidding strategy with proper value rules, we can optimise our Google Ads bidding to focus on countries that deliver higher value and revenue to our business. This approach ensures that our ad spend is maximised for conversions that align with our business goals, ultimately leading to improved campaign performance and profitability.

---The End---


Internal Articles

  1. https://www.deanlong.io/blog/whats-the-best-ppc-bidding-strategy
  2. How to Optimise Your Facebook Ad Structure

Google Resources

  1. Conversion value calculator: https://ads.google.com/home/tools/conversion-value-calculator
  2. Bid simulators: : https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9634060
  3. Traffic quality resource for advertisers: https://www.google.com/ads/adtrafficquality/advertisers/
  4. Conversion retractions: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/7686447


  1. Budget bid strategy: https://support.google.com/sa360/answer/13384420
  2. Conversion value rules: https://support.google.com/sa360/answer/13609922
  3. Custom variable adjustments: https://support.google.com/sa360/answer/11955557

Google Support Articles

  1. https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/6268637
  2. https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/3419241
  3. https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/12080169

LinkedIn Reference coming from Google Ads Spoke Person Ginny Marvin

  1. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/ginnymarvin_%C3%A0-propos-des-valeurs-de-conversion-activity-7079117803198242817-oroK
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/ginnymarvin_calculate-conversion-values-to-bid-effectively-activity-7079479968899997697-i7YP
  3. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/ginnymarvin_to-wrap-up-our-series-on-vbb-this-week-i-activity-7080604633311694849-aHgu

Internet Resources

  1. https://www.voyantis.ai/blog/tie-predictive-value-based-bidding-into-acquisition-process
  2. How to build a money machine with Google

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Dean Long | Expert in Growth MarketingHongxin(Dean) Long

Dean Long is a Sydney-based performance marketing and communication professional with expertise in paid search, paid social, affiliate, and digital advertising. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Information Systems and Management and is also a distinguished MBA graduate from Western Sydney University.

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