Google has announced a significant change that will give advertisers more control over device-level bidding in AdWords. The news came during Google Performance Summit in San Francisco, at which Google also said it now handles trillions of searches globally — up from the hundreds of billions most recently stated — with more than half of those searches starting on mobile devices.
Over the past year or two, it has felt increasingly awkward to have bids tied to desktop when mobile usage has been ascending so rapidly. For some advertisers, it has been a growing challenge to scale mobile when bids are handcuffed to a limited desktop multiplier. To address this imbalance, Google announced that advertisers will be able to set individual bid adjustments for each device type, including mobile, desktop and tablet.
“This lets you anchor your base keyword bid to the device most valuable to your business and then set bid adjustments for each of the other devices. You will also have a wider range to adjust bids, up to +900%,” explained Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president of Ads and Commerce, in the blog post announcing the update.
This move can be seen as a retreat from Enhanced Campaigns — reversing the unpopular decision to group desktop and tablets together in a base bid — but it is more of an evolution of Enhanced Campaigns.
Jerry Dischler, who leads product management for AdWords, told Search Engine Land on Monday that before instituting Enhanced Campaigns, Google saw the fast growth in mobile search behavior happening, but the typical advertiser wasn’t ready to act on this shift. Now, Dischler says, advertisers are coming to Google saying, “We want to start on mobile and have more opportunities for mobile-first initiatives.”
Google’s arm-twisting with Enhanced Campaigns got advertisers to a place where many no longer balk at mobile and are instead now asking for even more levers and the flexibility to put mobile first.
When this change roles out — “in the coming months,” says Google — you’ll set a default/base bid for one device type and then have the option to set bid adjustments for the other two, still ranging from -100 percent to +900 percent. Not setting a bid adjustment is the equivalent of not setting a mobile bid adjustment today, where the default max CPC set for desktop/tablet applies to mobile.
For example, advertisers can now anchor the base bid to mobile and then set bid adjustments for desktop and tablet (positive or negative), making mobile the baseline.
Because the device-level bidding is still built on the base bid plus bid adjustment format of Enhanced Campaigns, there won’t be a big migration to roll out the new options.
Google is not advocating going back to having multiple campaigns targeting different devices. “With more controls, you can now optimize with greater precision while keeping things simple with a single campaign that reaches consumers across devices,” says Ramasawamy in a blog post announcing the change. How advertisers actually put this new functionality into practice, however, will be interesting to watch and likely to stir up a lot of discussion within the industry about new best practices and approaches.
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