Insights

Google Gives Back Control with Changes to Device Bidding in AdWords

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Hurray! Google has finally given control back to advertisers over the amount we can bid on desktop, tablet and mobile traffic. This will enable us to decide how much we’re willing to spend per click on each device. But, there’s a catch – Google hasn’t completely handed over the reins just yet.

Let’s Go Back to the Simpler Days…

Up until 3 years ago, advertisers were able to create campaigns that targeted desktop, tablet and mobile individually. This gave advertisers more control over budget allocation and bids across each device. Great stuff, but it also meant there were multiple versions of the same campaigns; in large accounts this would’ve made the account manager’s job even harder.

Then in 2013, Google introduced Enhanced campaigns, which simplified this process by enabling advertisers to manage their ads across multiple devices, in one place. Advertisers were no longer able to create device-specific campaigns, but were still able to adjust bids by device within the one campaign.

What is the Problem with Enhanced Campaigns?

With the introduction of Enhanced campaigns, Google removed the ability to set bids for each device. Advertisers can apply a base bid for desktop/tablet and adjust the mobile bid based on this (-100% to +300%).

Google saw consumer behaviour on desktop and tablet becoming very similar. As a result, both are now classed as the same type of device, with the same traffic costs. This means advertisers are restricted on how much they can adapt their adverts to consumer behaviour.

For example, desktop, tablet and mobile are likely to be used for different purposes and buying intent, as well as at different times of the day. I have seen several accounts where tablet and desktop traffic differ in performance and there is nothing that can be done to influence this.

What Are the New Changes?

In the next few months, advertisers will be able to set a base keyword bid for any device they choose, and then use bid adjustments for other devices.

Advertisers can only set a base bid for one device, so they will need to determine which device is more crucial for their business.

For example:

My client knows their audience carries out research on their mobile before converting on desktop. Therefore, they consider mobile traffic as most valuable to their business.

They will be able to set a base bid for mobile traffic and easily control how much they want to spend per click. The desktop and tablet device bids can then be adjusted based on this.

The client has also found that tablet traffic has historically been costly to the business, generating fewer conversions than desktop and mobile.

With the new Google changes, my client will be able to set a bid (let’s say £3.50 per click) for mobile, set the tablet bid adjustment to -100% to stop ads showing on tablet all together and then set desktop to -50% as they still want to show prominently on desktop, but bid less aggressively compared to mobile.

Here are some example scenarios of how the new device bidding can be used:

Scenario 1

Device

Priority

Base Bid

Bid Adjustment

Desktop

Y

£2.50

Tablet

N

+50%

Mobile

N

-100%

Scenario 2

Device

Priority

Base Bid

Bid Adjustment

Desktop

N

+100%

Tablet

Y

£1.50

Mobile

N

-50%

Scenario 3

Device

Priority

Base Bid

Bid Adjustment

Desktop

N

-50%

Tablet

N

-100%

Mobile

Y

£3.50

Why Make These Changes?

Behaviour and traffic costs vary across device. As mobile traffic on Google has now exceeded desktop, Google felt it would make more sense to give back control of mobile-specific bids and allow advertisers to choose which device is more important to them.

What Does This Mean for Advertisers?

Advertisers should start to identify areas of their accounts that can benefit from these changes. Is tablet traffic costly compared to desktop? Would your budget be spent more effectively if it was weighted towards mobile rather than desktop/tablet?

Controlling bids across all devices will mean advertisers can bid more aggressively on key devices, allowing them to compete more. It could also mean they spend less on the devices that aren’t working for them and allocate more budget towards the devices that are.


Advertisers will have more flexibility over the types of adverts they create and greater control of costs, plus the ability to test adverts across each device, can potentially result in lower conversion costs and improved campaign efficiency.

Exciting times!

We’re no longer able to split our campaigns by device and the new changes could make account management more complex. However, Google continues to show it understands advertiser and consumer needs alike.

The new changes will provide businesses with more marketing opportunities by manipulating bid adjustments to control traffic priority and traffic costs.

What’s Our Opinion?

The PPC team at Liberty welcome the changes and look forward to experimenting with additional device specific strategies to help our clients achieve great results. Watch this space for future case study examples.

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By

Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

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