Google AdWords Device Bidding Changes: Implications for Advertisers

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Google AdWords Device Bidding Changes: Implications for Advertisers

At this year’s Google Performance Summit (GPS), Google announced that advertisers will once again have the opportunity to customize paid search bids based on device.

In 2013, Google released Enhanced Campaigns, which shook the paid search marketing world.  Pre-Enhanced Campaigns, advertisers ran separate campaigns (and separate bids) by device: desktop, tablet, smartphone.  Enhanced Campaigns—meant to simplify things—eliminated separate bidding by joining devices into the same campaign, with bid modifiers for (1) smartphones and (2) desktop/mobile.  Since then, we’ve been living in world of conjoined device bidding.


In coming months, device bidding options will change:

  • Separate Campaigns: Bidding customizations by individual device: desktop, mobile, tablet (like pre-Enhanced Campaigns). Tablet bids are no longer joined to desktop bids.
  • Bid Modifiers: Larger range of bid modifiers (now -100% to +900% (vs. the current +300%))
  • Base Bid: Base bid can be set by any device (vs. the current state, where mobile bids are set as a modifier of desktop/tablet)


With these new bidding features, Google—yet again—is redefining how brands utilize search in their marketing efforts, which in turn will dictate how the industry continues to evolve.  When Google launched Enhanced Campaigns in 2013 (tying device bids together), it was in part to force advertisers into mobile search.  Ever since, mobile search volume has grown exponentially, outpacing desktop search way back in 2015.  It’s estimated that this year, there will be a total of 177.8 million mobile phone search users, and 207.6 million in 2018, approximately 63% of the U.S. population:

Bid Changes

Advertisers no longer need an incentive from Google to invest in mobile search.  In our mobile-first world, mobile search is a requirement for performance.  Mobile search investment is here and will only continue to grow.

Google can now give advertisers back the flexibility they need—flexibility that more sophisticated advertisers lacked in Enhanced Campaigns—to customize bids by device and run mobile-only campaigns.  Google is making it clear that it’s constantly evaluating how consumers are using Google products (e.g. mobile-first), and that it will continue to develop and evolve based upon these trends.


Separate device bidding is a welcome change for advertisers and agencies, as any lever for bid customization enables us to create campaigns more tailored to intent, in-the-moment where people are using different devices to search (e.g. desktop at work vs. tablet at home while watching TV).  This enables more relevant ads, increased click-through and more conversions:

1. Control: Advertisers now benefit by getting more targeting control, particularly with the increased flexibility enabled by new bid modifiers ranging from -100% to 900% across all three device types.  Couple that with the coming launch of look-alike modeling for Search (Similar Audiences in Search), and advertisers, all of a sudden, have more data inputs in search than ever before.  This enables advertisers to better understand and target customers in line with various intents.

2. Efficiency: Google’s new bidding features gives us more power to understand the right place, time and device to reach different consumers.  This—in turn—will result in greater ROI and efficiency for advertisers.  Brands can stop spending money on inefficient keywords and targets, and instead focus those dollars on the right device and message that will best satisfy a consumer’s intent.

3. Integration: Everyday, consumers demonstrate their intent across digital media interactions in new ways. Technology, applications and formats for ingesting information are changing by the minute. Consumer expectation is now the true north for any successful marketing campaign, and Google’s announcement and alignment to the mobile-first world recognizes this loud and clear.  Advertisers must learn to move faster, adopt new strategies and have a greater appetite for testing.  As such, a siloed, channel-specific approach to marketing is more dangerous than ever.

As these changes roll-out, all advertisers should return to device-type bidding.  We expect that this will improve relevancy, click-through and—ultimately—conversions.  We’ll pay close attention to performance metrics and provide an update in the near future.

To learn more about Google Device Bidding Changes, contact your Performics account team today.

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