Back in May, Google announced that they would be implementing a variety of changes to AdWords, largely designed to improve the experience on mobile devices. With over 50% of searches now occurring on mobile, it seems Google is starting to really embrace a “mobile-first world”. We previously examined the implications of expanded text ads, but that wasn’t the only big news: Google also announced that there will soon be new options for device bid adjustments. So, what are the changes, and how will they affect your bidding strategy?


Current Bid Adjustment Options

For those who are unfamiliar, a bid adjustment is a way to set a percentage adjustment to the default amount that you bid on your keywords. These adjustments are dependent on a number of factors relating to the person conducting a search. For example, you might implement a location bid adjustment to increase your keyword bids when potential customers are within a 10 mile radius of your business. Bid adjustments are fairly straightforward, although they can become more complex if you set adjustments for both a campaign and the ad groups within it, which usually results in the adjustments being multiplied together.
With the current device bid adjustment settings, you can only set an adjustment for mobile devices, while the default keyword bid will be used for both desktops and tablets. This is useful if you want to either prioritise or put less emphasis on mobile searches. However, say for some reason searches on tablets are particularly valuable to your business. With the current AdWords functionality, there would be no way to increase your bid for people on tablets without also increasing your bid for everyone using desktop devices… which might not be very cost effective.


AdWords Device Bid Adjustments
Only mobile device bid adjustments can be made… for now.


More Flexible Device Bid Adjustments

Essentially, with the upcoming changes, the available bid adjustment options for different devices will be more flexible.

Firstly, the new settings will allow you to set individual bid adjustments for each device type. As well as being able to set tablet bids independently of desktops, this also means that you’ll be able to choose which device type you anchor to 100%, i.e. whether desktop, tablet, or mobile searches use your default (base) keyword bids. A few years ago this was already possible by using multiple campaigns to target different devices. In contrast, this new system will allow you to set these adjustments without the complexities of balancing multiple versions of the same campaign.

Secondly, you’ll have much more control over the amount you scale bids for different devices, with the new changes allowing bid adjustments of up to +900%, compared to +300% available currently. You’ll still be able to set negative bids all the way down to -100% as well. So, if searches on one device are particularly valuable, you can go all out with a high adjustment. This should also prove useful where performance on one device differs drastically to performance on another.


What Should I Change?

You’ll probably want to adjust your bidding strategy in some way… especially if you haven’t even set an effective mobile bid adjustment yet. Ultimately, the adjustments you should make will depend on a variety of factors such as your industry, available budget, and historical data- there’s no “one size fits all” here.

However, one key thing to remember is that not all devices are created equal- different devices don’t necessarily represent different people, but rather they can be characterised by different types of behaviour. Someone on mobile might love an ad that helps them research a new type of product, whereas a desktop or tablet user might be more ready to buy. Or, depending on your product/service and industry, maybe not. However your ads perform across different devices, behaviour is always something to bear in mind.



Device bid adjustments are changing in two main ways. Firstly, you’ll be able to set independent bid adjustments for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. Secondly, you’ll have a greater range to play with (up to 900%) when setting your adjustments. To make the most of the changes, pay attention to the performance of your ads across different devices and keep behaviour patterns in mind.

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