The Powerful Return Of AdWords Device Bidding

If you spend a lot of time on the AdWords platform, then you know that 2016 was a year filled with changes and refinements. New advertising formats like Responsive Display Ads (RDAs) and Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) became important new options for advertisers. In addition to new formats, came some welcome changes to device bidding. Here’s how device bidding changed in 2016, and why the evolution is expected to continue.

Why make changes to device bidding?

Device bidding changes can be attributed primarily to one phenomenon-mobile. We’re seeing it everywhere from SEO to paid search – mobile is having a massive impact on all types of online marketing campaigns.

But what are the specific drivers behind the changes to AdWords device bidding?

First, it allows for separate bids to be set for desktop and tablet-centric ad campaigns. The changes also give marketers and advertisers the option to make mobile the centerpiece of their online advertising campaigns. With this further refinement of device bidding, advertisers will be able to set distinct bids for desktop, tablets and mobile devices.


Image source: Business2Community.com
Bid adjustments can now be set at the campaign level for all devices in AdWords.

The Circuitous Path to Separate Bidding for Desktop and Tablets

It’s been about 4 years since Google first introduced “Enhanced Campaigns.”
The introduction of Enhanced Campaigns constrained how advertisers would set bids for their ads on devices. It’s a commonly held belief that Google employed Enhanced Campaigns in part to nudge advertisers into taking the drive toward mobile search more seriously, and to persuade them to start bidding on ads running on mobile search.

What continued to frustrate advertisers was their inability to set up separate bids for desktops and tablets, even though campaigns can perform differently on each type of device.

What is the new approach all about?

So if you are an advertiser keen on setting bids at a granular level based on the device type, you can now start setting base bid adjustments for desktop, mobile and tablets. Previously with Enhanced Campaigns, this level of control was not possible.

With the ability to set individual bid adjustments for each type of device, advertisers can tie their base keyword bids to the type of device they feel is most important to their businesses, and from there, set bid adjustments for other device types.

In addition, advertisers now have a much bigger range for customizing bids, up to +900%. While many search marketers are already experimenting with the range of options available to them, these new bid adjustment options also allow advertisers to take advantage of the new features, without the necessity of building complex campaigns. Now marketers can make bid adjustments within a single campaign, which simplifies the management process, while still allowing them to utilize the new bid adjustment options.


Image source: AdWords.Google.com
To see data for your ads by device, you’ll need to segment them, as shown above.

Let’s Not Forget About Tablets

With this latest iteration of device bidding, base bids can now be applied to mobile campaigns, with modifiers for bids set for both desktop and tablets. Previously, with Enhanced Campaigns, AdWords professionals felt compelled to serve ads on all devices with shared budgets, with the only tweak available being the mobile bid modifier of desktop bids.

What had become a frustrating reality for advertisers seeking to set tablet bids separately from desktop, this update provides major relief. Because tablets are by definition a more “mobile” device than desktops, they are often used for different purposes, like entertainment or a quick web search—the tasks most of us don’t want to get up and move to their desks or offices to perform. Yes, I can be THAT much of a sloth . Still there are enough of us out there to make the bid adjustment option for tablets very attractive and necessary for advertisers.

Smart Bidding

In addition to the expansion of device bidding options released in 2016, came “Smart Bidding.” Smart Bidding is Google’s alias for conversion-based automated bidding, which was released last summer. No surprise, Smart Bidding is built off of Google’s machine learning methodologies. Diverse signals are pulled together to determine the best bid for your keywords, with data continuously updating to provide the “optimal” bids designed to maximize conversion performance. According to Inside AdWords, Smart Bidding “evaluates patterns in your campaign structure, landing pages, ad text, product information, keyword phrases,” and countless other data points to help identify the best, most relevant bid available.

What’s Next?

So what’s next on the horizon for AdWords? Last year was filled with changes and additions to the AdWords platform. In addition to Responsive Display Ads (RDAs), Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), and Device Bidding, users should expect ad customizers to continue to grow and shape the options and opportunities for AdWords advertisers.

Whether for purposes of studying for an AdWords certification, managing client campaigns effectively, or staying in step with paid search trends for your company, 2017 is going to be a year filled with new ideas and learning opportunities for AdWords users and marketers. Keep reading the iPass blog for the latest developments and changes, and submit your ideas for posts and the expertise you’d like us to share!

Published by

Susan Rawlings

Susan Rawlings PPC Product Author Susan Rawlings is the owner/managing partner of Compass Search Marketing, a Google Partner Agency based in Cleveland, OH, USA. In addition to serving in the role of Resource Author/Editor for Google Shopping and Display for iPassExam.com, Susan helps clients manage PPC, analytics, SEO growth, social media marketing and advertising, user experience and link building projects. Susan is certified in both AdWords and Google Analytics.