Fact Checking Google: Tablet and Computers Are Not the Same!

By Sam Owen | @SamOwenPPC | Associate Director of Paid Search at Hanapin Marketing

As many of you are probably aware by now, Google’s new enhanced campaigns are talk of the town in the PPC industry. For those of you who sat in on Google’s introductory Webinar last week, you’ll remember how they rather brashly asserted that the reason they are allowing you to adjust your bids on mobile but not for tablets is that computers and tablet are ‘essentially the same thing’.

This assertion caused me to let out a high pitched ‘eek’ noise as if I could feel millions of PPC voices suddenly cry out in terror. Instead of just letting it slide I thought I’d coerce the PPC Hero team into getting me some statistics to either prove or disprove Google. Here’s my quick write-up:


1. The Anecdote

So before we dig deeper into the stats I wanted to start with anecdotal evidence against not letting me turn off Tablets. In particular one of my accounts offers a service for which you have to do a lot of writing. We figured out pretty quickly that no one wants to write anything long on their tablet. This was the account that got me to research into this post. I had just turned off Tablets after diving into some CPA analysis the week before enhanced campaigns were announced.

The difference for this particular account? Tablet CPA is 313% higher than Computers. Kind of a bummer I can’t turn it off (or bid it down) in the new set up.


2. The Methodology

We pulled a random cross section of 33 of the accounts we work on at Hanapin, based on the past 3 months of data and removing accounts with minimal Tablet activity. We tried to pick accounts that were somewhat different and in different verticals. We’ve also separated out the Search and Display Networks for increased granularity in looking at the differences.


3. The Results

So without further ado, here is what we saw in the Search Network:


Search Network Tablet



As you can see, the discrepancy is not massive, however it does exist. When you look at it, the Conversion Rate is 19% lower for Tablets, and the CPA is 14% higher. As someone who likes to make sure my accounts are as optimized as possible for my clients, I’d really appreciate Google letting me adjust my bids down by 15%. If my margin is 15% this could make a big difference.


What about the Display Network?

The Display Network is where we saw a huge discrepancy between Desktop and Tablet!


Display Network Tablet



Now Google, you can’t seriously be expecting me to be happy to have Tablet forced upon my Display campaigns can you? Tablet Conversion Rate is 52% lower than for Computers and Cost per Conversion is 118% more expensive. Depending on the levels of traffic generated, that’s the kind of thing that would make me bail on display all together if margins are tight!


4. Breaking Down by Account

So taking the average is all well and good, but what we really need to know is the odds that one of our accounts will need separate Computer and Tablet bids. It could be one or two accounts are swaying things either way. I had fellow PPC Hero Sean Quadlin pull the numbers for the accounts we looked at and told him to categorize by ‘More than 20% difference between Tablet and Computer CPA’ and ‘Less than 20% difference between Tablet and Computer CPA’. I feel like 20% is a fair number in terms of natural discrepancy and bid tweaking not being completely necessary. We only looked at the Search Network here as the Display Network was so drastically different. Here’s the breakdown:


Accounts looked at: 33

Accounts where Tablet & Computers were within 20% of each other’s CPA: 13

Accounts where Tablet & Computers were outside of 20% of each other’s CPA: 20


Boom! It’s pretty conclusive to me that Google has to add in functionality to allow us to change our Tablet bids. As it stands, the change will do nothing but eat into our margins.

Display’s results are very different, but we’ve heard from a couple of sources that they will have a slightly different management style.  Google hasn’t hosted that webinar yet, but it’s part of their series.  Tablets on display will be a particularly interesting issue.

Should tablets never be given a bid modification on search we’ll need to find a way to make the most of this change.  We’re still getting used to the new campaign set ups (and hoping for a change), so it’s hard to think of a way around the system when we don’t know the system yet.  But if nothing changes we’ll need to find a way to minimize the differences between tablets and desktops.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!