Adwords Event Recap: Device-Specific Bid Adjustments

By Emma Franks | @akaEmmaLouise | Production Associate at Hanapin Marketing

On Tuesday, August 9, Google invited users to an on-air hangout centered around new device-specific bid adjustments. For those who missed this broadcast from Product Expert Sally Chung and Product Manager Leo Sei, you can watch it here and check out PPC Hero’s recap and reactions below.


Hangout On Air


  • Device-specific bid adjustments, first announced on July 26, 2016, now include an increased bid adjustment capability of -90% to +900% for any device. This range previously extended from -100% to +300% for mobile, with no device-specific adjustments for desktop or tablet.


  • With this new innovation, advertisers can return to or maintain consolidation, targeting all devices in a single campaign. Rather than segmenting and maintaining two or three different campaigns according to device preference, advertisers can save time and energy by eliminating 67% of ad copy testing, keyword analysis, and other maintenance tasks.


  • Many of the perceived benefits of device segmentation can be achieved without creating separate campaigns. Keyword-level bid adjustments can be achieved by grouping keywords of similar performance and setting bids at the ad group level. Device-specific ad copy is another favored benefit, however, and this can still be achieved in a consolidated campaign by utilizing ad customizers within ad copy text.


  • Testing Adwords Smart Bidding (formerly, auto-bidding) was also heavily encouraged in the broadcast. This conversion-based automation feature is able to examine a variety of factors (including device, location, user intent, etc.) and set the most appropriate bid adjustments automatically. Smart Bidding will also leave a portion of search traffic for each campaign untouched, in order to continually learn and optimize according to the ongoing tests.


  • Smart Bidding can be tested using the Drafts and Experiments features in Adwords, and should be considered by advertisers looking to reduce CPA. (Really, who doesn’t want to reduce CPA?) Another recent announcement confirmed that accounts will soon be able to set Target CPA goals per device, further encouraging the consolidated campaign strategy.


  • For those who still prefer to set bid adjustments manually, use the below steps for calculating bids by device:


  1. Change main bids at the aggregate keyword level (equal to average bid for three devices).
  2. Segment performance report by device.
  3. Calculate the full value conversions of devices (including cross-device, in-store, etc.). The assisting devices tool in AdWords can help with this, as well as your individual knowledge and experience based on your specific industry and customers.
  4. Calculate new bid adjustment change: Step 4
  5. Don’t forget to include previous bid adjustments in your calculations when making updates. Step 5
  6. Be aware of diminishing marginal returns (take note of impression share and average positions, and use the bid simulator tool—not every bid increase will lead to an equal lift in performance).


Q&A And Additional Notes


  • Device specific bid adjustments will continue to roll out to users throughout August and September of 2016.


  • Adwords Shopping campaigns should test the consolidated campaign recommendations in addition to Search campaigns.


  • Where mobile ads do not perform as well as desktop, advertisers are encouraged to use bid modifiers to reduce mobile bids, rather than eliminating mobile.


  • Smart Bidding will override manual bid adjustments, but the ability to set Target CPA by device should offset this concern.


  • For customers with smaller budgets, it should be noted that the account should average 50 conversions over the past 30 days in order for Smart Bidding to work properly.


  • Device-specific bid adjustments can be built into scripts, with API support also available.


  • It is now expected that each device will have its own modifier, with the base bid set equal to the average bid for the three device types.