The Bid Management Tools Arms Race

An arms race is a battle with no goal other than to stay ahead of the competition. Today, there is a competitive arms race happening among bid management software providers.

With the rapid rise of dynamic ads, social media platforms, new devices, advanced targeting and retargeting techniques, and all the noise about big data, online marketing companies are racing to build innovative and effective tools for an increasingly competitive landscape. But tools are only as good as the people using them. 

When automated bidding systems first came into play, search programs were only dealing with a moderate number of keywords. Now with more competition online than ever, viable options exist to manage large programmatic media programs across more channels, including paid search, organic search display and social media. The true software category leaders are able to tie all of the channels together in one tool and one technology suite.



Bid management providers are predominantly still concentrated on tool sets for managing media programs and one-upping competitor single channel features, rather than fully embracing the broader future of discovery marketing and omnichannel insights.

Today’s platforms help optimize millions of SEM keywords using various automated algorithms with flexibility for portfolio based, rules based, position based, etc. bidding. Feed based marketing has also found its way into dynamic, ever-changing keyword generation, ad templates and retargeting. Programmatic buying is the preferred method to buy display media and ads across the Web, including social networks.

The way things are looking now; it won’t be surprising when traditional media buying with print, TV, and radio finally succumbs to big data and programmatic advancements.

This rapid expansion of automated bidding into new media is fueling the fire to create tools that optimize and execute bidding strategies. marketer awareness of vendor expertise is turning core bid technology into a commodity.

Major search marketing players in the tools arms race are Kenshoo, Marin, IgnitionOne, Adobe AdLens, and DoubleClick. While Kenshoo and Marin built their own proprietary tools, other companies used acquisitions to get ahead; Google purchased DoubleClick and Adobe bought Efficient Frontier (renamed Adobe AdLens).

All are racing to get the most innovative tools by discovering their own path to the next frontier.

For example, Kenshoo is integrating social with Facebook bidding. DoubleClick is combining analytics, SEM, SEO, and display into one digital marketing tool. These leaders are trying to capture the essence of omnichannel marketing with multichannel attribution and all information on one data stack. All are innovating at a blistering pace, and any snapshot in time is outdated in a matter of weeks.

It may not have been obvious from the beginning, but it’s a good thing these providers laid search-based groundwork/ Google Enhanced Campaign has shifted the marketplace; forcing companies to go back to the core of what they have done, i.e. database architecture, bidding algorithms, device reporting, attribution, etc..

It’s one thing to be prepared for the transition, but actually utilizing and optimizing Google’s new structure, which includes multidevice campaigns is a whole other game. Enhanced campaigns, threw a wrench in everything. Even though Google approached bidding software companies first to prepare them to be ready for the transition, it still changes the game. How do these companies outperform one another in this new landscape?

The real winner of this race will not only create competitive tools that effectively optimize bidding across multiple devices, but also offer a deep understanding of an advertiser’s target customer and that customer’s decision journey. 


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