3rd Party Bid Management Tools
Third party bid management tools provide two primary benefits: they automate the adjustment of bids relative to competitors, and they consolidate the control of multiple keyword advertising programs into a single management console. Many bid management tools provide additional functionality such as keyword research functions, advanced campaign analysis, and reporting.
There are a variety of strategies for bid optimization, and more sophisticated 3rd party tools allow you to select the strategies that best suit your needs. You can have them look for gaps between competitive bids ("gap surfing"), adjust bids to maintain a specific ad rank, or allocate your ad budget based upon traffic. They also can typically adjust bids based upon time of day (aka "day-parting"), day of week, and region in which ads appear.
Many bid management tools support multiple keyword advertising programs such as Overture, Looksmart, and Kanoodle. Note that differences between these advertising programs can sometimes complicate the implementation of bid management tools, such as how terms can be combined into more manageable groups. They may also compromise on some features when used with multiple advertising services simultaneously, functioning at the lowest common denominator among them.
Overture Bid Management Tools
Overture provides an API for third party service providers and software developers to work with their keyword advertising system. Overture provides a list of approved 3rd party bidding tools here that use this API to support advanced features through native, and usually more friendly, user interfaces.
AdWords Bid Management Tools
As of this writing, Google's AdWords program does not endorse or approve any 3rd party bidding tools. In fact, such tools violate the letter of the AdWords terms of service, although at least one 3rd party bidding tool vendor makes it clear to Google what they are doing without negative repercussions.
Due to the unique functionality of AdWords, bid management tools are not as useful as they are for other keyword advertising programs. Most other programs are strictly pay-for-position, while AdWords determines your ad's rank by both the bid and the keyword's CTR. This means that you cannot as easily target a desired bid rank which makes bid automation significantly more complicated. Other features that are unique to AdWords, such as the ability to run competing ads, phrases, and even bids for a keyword; make the AdWords program more powerful yet effectively eliminate the benefits of consolidated control.
Example Bid Management Tools
The following are some of the most popular bid management tools:
Note that we do not endorse 3rd party tools.