Best practices for succeeding with mobile

New Mobile Playbook offers blueprint for winning over the constantly connected consumer

Consumers continue to embrace smartphones and constant connectivity at breakneck speed. Over the past two years, smartphone penetration in the US nearly doubled from 31% to 56%1 while smartphones as a percentage of new handset sales have surged from 50% to 85%.2

As people continue to make their smartphones a central part of their everyday lives, marketers have increasingly woken up to this consumer reality, but many still struggle with how to focus their efforts. To address this, we released The Mobile Playbook last year to help marketers better understand how they can win with mobile. And just as the industry has changed over the last year, we know that the best practices and considerations for winning in mobile have evolved too, which is why we’re relaunching The Mobile Playbook today.
We’ve spoken to hundreds of marketers to understand what mobile areas they still struggle with, talked with leaders from around the industry, and searched high and low for the best examples of businesses that have succeeded in creating great mobile experiences.

The Mobile Playbook outlines five questions every business should address when it comes to developing successful mobile strategies:
  • How does mobile change our value proposition?
  • How does mobile impact our digital destinations?
  • Is our organization adapting to mobile?
  • How should our marketing and attribution adapt to mobile?
  • How can we connect with multi-screening audiences?
The second edition also dives deeper into areas of concern for today’s advertisers, like:
  • How to address the showrooming challenge head on.
    Industry veteran Michael Scharff shares strategies on how retailers can address showrooming, where mobile consumers use physical stores to check out products in person but end up buying them online or somewhere else. Scharff touches upon strategies such as selective price-matching and ideas on how to enhance the in-store experience for mobile consumers.
  • The age-old question of when to build a mobile website and when to build a mobile app.
    A mobile site is still the #1 priority. Advanced marketers are now taking a step further by tapping into the full potential of apps to deepen customer relationships and drive repeat sales or customer loyalty.
  • What it really means to build multi-screen marketing campaigns.
    84% of all multi-screen shopping experiences involve mobile, and most of these interactions start on a mobile device.3 Marketers now need to see mobile as the first screen when it comes to integrated, multi-screen campaigns. Brands like American Apparel and My M&Ms share how they made mobile core to their broader digital marketing efforts.
  • How marketers can really understand the full value of their mobile efforts across devices, calls and in stores.
    Marketers now are realizing that mobile doesn’t have a conversion problem, but a measurement problem. We’re seeing more examples of companies, like Myntra, adidas and Extra Space Storage, identify and measure all of the ways that mobile is driving value for their businesses and building new attribution models to make sure they’re investing correctly in mobile.
The new Mobile Playbook is now available from Google’s Think Insights site. We hope that the playbook will give marketers more tools and insights on how to succeed in mobile, especially as we enter the holiday shopping season. In the coming months, we’ll also post new articles on Google’s Think Insights, going deeper on mobile best practices and examples of companies who are leading the way.

Posted by Jason Spero, Director of Global Performance Solutions

1 Google & Ipsos Our Mobile Planet, 2011-2013
2 Mary Meeker Internet Trends Presentation 2013
3 Google & Ipsos Multi-screen Consumer Research, 2012

Capturing the mobile opportunity - being present and bidding well

This year, for the first time, the majority of people in the US own a smartphone.1  This means that more people than ever are constantly connected, using their phones throughout the day to search for information, shop, or stay entertained.  As a result, we are seeing growth in mobile searches across many verticals.  For example, year on year, we have seen mobile searches grow by 117% for entertainment, 91% for auto and 90% for finance. And for seasonal terms like “back to school,” we saw a 96% year on year increase.

As mobile continues to grow, it's more important than ever for every business to understand how to engage their customers on mobile. For advertisers who are just getting started, make sure you are showing up when potential customers are searching for keywords related to your business.  Opt into mobile and set a mobile bid adjustment that meets your business goals.  By using mobile bid adjustments, you can influence your ad position, clicks and cost on mobile devices.  For a bit of perspective, here are a few of examples of how advertisers have set their mobile bids as a percentage of desktop within the last several months (actual CPCs may vary):

  • On average, advertisers in the Japan finance sector set mobile bids to 117% of desktop.
  • On average, advertisers in the US dining and entertainment sector set mobile bids to 90% of desktop.
  • On average, advertisers in the Canadian auto sector set mobile bids to 87% of desktop.

An example of a marketer who has recognized the importance of mobile and created a clear strategy is My M&M’s.  In this video, the My M&M’s team notes that mobile is often the entry point for their customers.  Even though the final conversion may happen in the store or on another device, it’s been important for My M&Ms to make sure they are on mobile to capture these leads.  After optimizing their search and display campaigns, MyM&M’s reported a 15% increase in overall ROI.

For best practices on how to set your mobile bid adjustment, we encourage you to review our bidding best practices whitepaper which includes a chapter dedicated to mobile bids.  You can also use the full value of mobile calculator to estimate the overall value that mobile drives for your business.  People are using mobile for many kinds of activities across all business types.  Mobile is where your customers are, whether you are a restaurant owner, retailer or financial institution.  Therefore, it’s more important than ever before to make sure that your message is where people are looking.

Posted by Andy Miller, Head of Global Mobile Search Solutions

1 PEW Research Center, May 2013.

Learn how to bid like a pro with new whitepaper and webinar for enhanced campaigns

People are constantly connected, switching seamlessly between devices to shop, communicate and stay entertained. Research shows that people now use as many as three devices combinations every day including desktop computers, laptops, phones, tablets, "phablets", web-enabled TVs, and more.

This always-on, multi-device world has dramatically changed user behavior and also presents exciting, new opportunities for online marketers. With AdWords enhanced campaigns, you can now present users with more relevant messages than ever by taking into account contextual information such as a user’s location, device, and the time of day.

Bid adjustments in enhanced campaigns are key to optimizing for these signals.  To help you master bid adjustments and drive better performance, we published a whitepaper, Bid Like a Pro: Strategies for Success in AdWords Enhanced Campaigns where you’ll find the following:
  • Tips for prioritizing bid adjustments based on your business goals
  • Best practices for setting bids by device, location, and time
  • Suggestions for how to integrate more automation into your AdWords strategies
  • Success stories highlighting advertisers’ improved results
You can download the the whitepaper here.

Tune into the webinar 7/11

To learn more about bidding and search strategies, join us on Thursday, 7/11 at 10am PDT for a webinar highlighting bid adjustment best practices and optimization techniques to get the most out of your search campaigns. Bhanu Narasimhan, Product Manager and Ting Zhang, Search Solutions Manager will be hosting.  Register here.

We’d love to hear what you think of the whitepaper. Please let us know what other best practices you’d like to read about. See you all Thursday!

Posted by Andrea Cohan, Product Marketing Manager, AdWords

Get a Head Start with Enhanced Campaigns: Why to Upgrade Now

Enhanced campaigns offer an array of new features to drive better performance and efficiency. With more than three million campaigns already upgraded, we’ve heard many great examples of advertisers finding new pockets of revenue and reaching new customers with enhanced campaigns – all while saving time. As the the auto-upgrade approaches on July 22, we’re introducing some new features in the Upgrade Center today to make the process of upgrading even easier. Upgrade today to start realizing the benefits right away.

5 reasons to upgrade now
By upgrading now and becoming a pro with the new features before the auto-upgrade, you can get a head start on driving better performance – and a jump start on the competition. Here are some of our advertisers’ top reasons for upgrading:
  • Discover local opportunities: Use the location bid adjustment to easily and effectively engage with users based on location and proximity. This allows you to find and optimize for pockets of revenue you may not have even known existed.

    After upgrading to enhanced campaigns and leveraging geo bid adjustments, Peter Hughes, Manager of SEM at Constant Contact stated, “Suddenly, we realized that California has a great cluster of small and medium sized businesses.  Cool - we’ve already geo-targeted that.  But guess what?  Who knew that North Dakota had such a great ROI.  In the old, legacy world, I never would have figured it out because it did not fit into my selective scaling model.”

  • Expose the true power of mobile: Implement a mobile bid adjustment to make sure you’re driving the right value for on-the-go consumers while gaining better insight into the results mobile can drive for you.

    American Apparel upgraded early to reach customers across all screens. They started by setting mobile bid adjustments at 100% and saw impressive results.  Since the upgrade, mobile conversions have grown 2X and aggregate click-through-rate has increased 7%.  Sean Singleton, Marketing Manager, stated, “We are going from trial to fine-tuning the way we execute our multi-device marketing strategy.  With enhanced campaigns, it’s very easy to test and iterate so we are quickly establishing internal best practices in terms of how to best run enhanced campaigns.”

  • Drive more leads through calls: Use call extensions and measure calls as conversions to drive cost-efficient leads while providing a better ad experience for your customers.

    Woodbridge, a financial investment firm, took advantage of upgraded call extensions and new reporting features, increasing the volume of calls from smartphones from 20% to 57%, with overall smartphone leads almost doubling.  In addition, conversion rates from both desktop and mobile devices increased by 6%.

  • Reach new audiences on the Google Display Network with powerful bidding:  Drive impression share to a specific audience using custom display bids across characteristics like demographics, interest categories or topics.

    Stathis Konstantinidis, who runs Global Marketing at Westwing, said, “With the upgrade to enhanced campaigns we have greater insight into how our converting audience looks on adgroup level. This is very important to us as we have quite a distinct idea of our target group. We can use this information in order to push the impression share of our ads within the converting audience and decrease the impressions within the less performing audience for driving conversions & decreasing the CPLs.”

  • Manage campaigns in less time: Dive into enhanced campaigns to see how the powerful features work together to streamline your workflow and get you to happy hour sooner.

    Dutch shoe retailer, Schuurman Schoenen, reduced its total number of campaigns by 60% and dramatically cut its marketing team’s workload.  “I used to spend twice as much time to maintain and fine-tune campaigns,” says Kayo Klein Obbink, Schuurman Schoenen’s online marketer.
Improvements to the upgrade center
In April, we announced the enhanced campaigns upgrade center to help you transition from legacy campaigns to enhanced campaigns. We’re introducing some additional features, rolling out over the next week, that will make upgrading even easier and give you greater control over the merging process:
  • Increased flexibility when copying keywords: When merging campaigns, have increased control over how keywords are copied (or not copied) from the mobile to the desktop campaign.
  • Automatic labelling of newly copied keywords: When keywords, ads, or ad groups are copied or merged, they will be labelled as having been modified by the upgrade center.
  • Uninterrupted keyword level tracking: When you have two matching campaigns with different mobile and desktop keyword-level destination URLs, they will be merged automatically. The mobile URL will show on mobile phones and the desktop URL will show on non-mobile.
  • ... and coming soon: Bulk upload functionality: Ad extensions and ad groups will soon be exportable to AdWords Editor.
We hope that the Upgrade Center and other resources we’ve shared will give you the tools you need to ease the transition to enhanced campaigns.

Don’t wait to upgrade
We will begin automatically upgrading all legacy campaigns on July 22nd, 2013.  Please continue to share your feedback with us as you are going through the upgrade process.

Posted by Andy Miller, Head of Mobile Search Solutions

Optimizing Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) is a valuable product to help advertisers keep their AdWords campaigns effective and relevant.  DSA maintains a fresh index of your inventory using Google’s organic web crawling technology to help ensure ads are generated based on the most recent content on your website.

Since we’ve opened up the product to all advertisers last October, thousands of advertisers have successfully used DSA to target their websites.  On average, they’re getting a 5-10% increase in clicks and conversions and positive ROI.  Just like keyword based campaigns, DSA works best when it’s properly set-up and optimized.  In this post, we'll cover some tips and best practices for optimizing Dynamic Search Ads.
  1. Start off with broad targets
    Dynamic Search Ads helps advertisers target long-tail queries without having to create and manage a long list of keywords.  To realize the true benefit of DSA, target your whole website or large portions of your website to help identify segments of traffic never targeted before.

    Qoo10, an e-Commerce leader in Asia, used this technique and immediately benefitted from DSA’s ability to “fill the gaps” between their existing keyword coverage and what they sell online.  As Muhd Fitri Khamis, Qoo10’s Marketing Executive, notes: “If you start off with targeting a few pages rather than the whole domain, the results may not be as compelling.”  Today, Qoo10’s DSA campaign accounts for 10% of sales coming from AdWords campaigns and the CTR of their DSA campaign is 33% higher than other campaigns.

  2. Use negative targets
    Especially in the early stages of your DSA campaign, you should use the search terms and categories report to exclude searches and parts of your web site that you don't want to advertise or that underperform.  A good starting set of negative targets are any keywords you have paused or deleted in the recent past as well as any pages unrelated to selling products such as customer help pages and general FAQ’s.

    You can learn more about how to set-up exclusions to block certain pages of your website as well as how to add negative keywords in this Help Center article.

  3. Group highly related pages and products of similar values together
    Similar to keywords and ad groups, group highly related pages or products with similar economic values within the same target to increase ad relevance and ROI. For example, you might group your beach vacation rentals together in one target and group your ski lodge rentals together in another target.  You also might want to bundle high-priced, high-margin products separately from low-priced, low-margin products.  For example, group high-end electronics separately from accessories.

    You can do this by creating more narrow targets as explained in our FAQ’s.  This approach will help create more targeted ads for users and help increase ROI by setting different bids for products of different economic values.

  4. Use conversion optimizer or target CPA
    Dynamic Search Ads is best coupled with CPA based bidding.  CPA based bidding helps give you a more automated approach to bid management and by clearly defining your ROI goals, you can ensure that you will continue to hit your CPA goals even as you expand your campaign reach and as the content on your website changes.

    This combination worked extremely well for, a large software download company, who successfully combined DSA with Conversion Optimizer to automatically set-up campaigns targeting thousands of their landing pages - all while keeping within their target CPA.  Founder & CEO Lucian Todea said the company was able to take advantage of the power of the long tail, and within just a couple of months had seen DSA deliver a 15% increase in conversions.

  5. Don’t set it and forget it
    As your website structure and content changes, please make sure your DSA campaign is kept up-to-date to reflect your latest changes.  Remember also to regularly check your search terms and categories report to raise bids on high performing pages and add poor performing pages and queries as negative targets.
For step-by-step directions on setting up a Dynamic Search Ads campaign, please visit the AdWords Help Center.  You can also view a recorded webinar to learn more about Dynamic Search Ads.

Posted by Jen Huang, AdWords Product Manager

Bidding Best Practices (Part 5): Implement Bid Automation for Better Performance and Time Savings

Today’s post about using automated bidding within enhanced campaigns is the fifth in our bidding best practices series. The previous blog posts covered calculating mobile, location and time bid adjustments. 

We launched bid adjustments for device, location and time of day to help you control your bids without duplicating campaigns as part of enhanced campaigns. We’ve heard from many advertisers that these tools help them improve results and efficiency. However, for some advertisers - particularly those with large programs and accounts - managing campaigns at scale can still be time-intensive and complex.

Since bidding is fundamentally important to your success with AdWords, we've developed a set of automation tools to help improve your performance and save you time.

Benefits of AdWords bid automation
For almost any advertiser, using the right automated bidding solution can drive better results and improved efficiency. Here are some key benefits to using AdWords automated bid strategies in enhanced campaigns.
  • Save time by optimizing keyword bids for your goal at scale. Automated tools dynamically change bids to meet your advertising goals across your keywords -- whether it’s 100 or 1 million keywords -- saving you time and effort.
  • Create and manage campaigns independently from bidding strategy. New flexible bid strategies let you apply multiple bidding strategies within a single campaign or across campaigns. This provides you the freedom to optimize towards multiple advertising goals in the same campaign or across campaigns without being constrained by account structure. Read more about these below.
  • Improve performance with auction-time bidding. Two flexible bid strategies, Target CPA and Enhanced CPC, use a combination of real-time performance signals including location, device, partner site and operating system to set specific bids at every auction. With auction-time bidding, these automated tools automatically calculate bid adjustments for you.
  • Optimize over time to continuously improve results. Our automated tools adapt to performance changes over time, saving you the effort of manually evaluating performance reports and continuously changing bids to keep up with performance fluctuations.
  • Easy to try. AdWords bid automation tools are free to use and available to all advertisers right in the AdWords interface.
When to use bid automation
In this section, we’ll provide guidance on when to use each of Google’s automated bid strategies within enhanced campaigns.

Target CPA (the flexible bid strategies version of Conversion Optimizer) is our most powerful bid automation tool. This bid strategy sets an optimum bid for every auction by predicting the likelihood of a conversion. It uses real-time inputs such as location, time, device, and network placement. Apply this strategy to ad groups or campaigns if your main goal is to maximize conversion volume while maintaining a target CPA. Target CPA will automatically set and optimize your bid adjustments for you, however, a -100% mobile bid adjustment will keep your ads from appearing on mobile devices.

Enhanced CPC can improve performance by adding automation on top of your manual bids. This automated bid strategy will refine your manual bids using the same real-time conversion prediction technology as Target CPA. You can still apply bid adjustments with this automated strategy if you know that device, location or time of day affects your conversion value in ways that are not measured in the conversion tracker. For example, if you want to use automation, but know that your mobile clicks drive value beyond online conversions, such as store visits, you can enable Enhanced CPC in combination with a bid adjustment for mobile to account for the difference in expected value per click.

The last two flexible bid strategies apply bid automation and work with existing manual bid adjustments. If your goal is getting the most clicks within a target spend, you can implement the Maximize Clicks bid strategy. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in visibility with top position impressions, you can try the Target Search Page location strategy. Read more about these strategies here.

If you’ve implemented one of the four flexible bid strategies, you can monitor your performance in the Shared Library and adjust if necessary.

While it might take some time to refine your automated bid strategy, the benefits of bid automation will improve your performance while saving you time and effort. To read more about automation and bidding adjustments, check out our Help Center.

Posted by Andrea Cohan, Product Marketing Manager, AdWords

Bidding Best Practices (Part 4): Setting your bid adjustment for time

Today’s post will provide guidance on using time bid adjustments.  It is the fourth post in a bidding best practices series. Previous posts covered optimization strategies for setting location and mobile bid adjustments as well as prioritization.

In our constantly connected world, people are searching on multiple devices throughout the day for places to go, things to buy, and ways to stay entertained. People often use similar search results in different ways depending on the time of day that they search. For example, if someone is searching for “Hawaii vacations” during the workday, she may just be doing research for an upcoming trip.  When she returns home and conducts the same search in the evening, she may be more likely to have all the info she needs to book the flights and hotels.

With this constant connectivity, search marketers can now receive web traffic from across the globe and around the clock. Most businesses can still identify peak days and times when they see better ROI and lower costs.  At other times, customer activity might be slower and some businesses may wish to drive additional visits even if the cost is a bit higher.

If your business sees regular cycles of customer behavior and AdWords performance during the week, then using the time bid adjustment feature in AdWords enhanced campaigns may make sense for you.  This feature can help you improve results by allowing you to increase or decrease bids by day of the week or time of day.

Getting started with time bid adjustments
Before making any adjustments, it’s important to choose the right level of granularity for analysis.  For example, will you adjust bids by day of the week, eight hour increments, or down to the hour?  While you may be tempted to optimize down to the hour, it’s important to ensure that you have sufficient data to make decisions for each time period.  A general rule would be to have 1,000 clicks and 30 conversions for each time period you’re looking to optimize.

Calculating your time bid adjustments
Once you decide that using time bid adjustments are right for your business, compare the performance of your ads at varying times to your overall performance goal.  This will allow you to easily determine the right bid adjustment for each time period.

If you are setting a goal using a cost per action target, your bid adjustment can be calculated as follows:

Time bid adjustment = 100%* (( Campaign Goal  ÷ Actual Performance) - 1)

For example, let’s say you are an online retailer who sees better traffic and performance on weekdays as opposed to weekends. You would like to target a $30 cost per acquisition overall, but you are experiencing a $25 cost per acquisition on weekdays and a $40 cost per acquisition on weekends.  To meet your performance goal and maximize efficiency you can use a time bid adjustment.  Simply adjust your bids on weekdays by +20%, and on weekends by -25%.  This allows you to optimize for your goal by bidding more aggressively on weekdays when conversions are more cost effective, and less aggressively on weekends when performance is lower.

Test and Learn
Constant iteration is a key part of the optimization process. To ensure you are optimized over time, check the performance for each time adjustment regularly on the Time subtab in your campaign settings. Raise your bid adjustment where your performance exceeds your goal and lower your bid adjustment where your performance falls short of your goal. This will allow you to optimize your bids and adjust to changing consumer behavior.

You should also take this opportunity to study your internal data to understand when you have peak activity in terms of conversion rates, order size, and overall volume.  If you have a physical store or run a call center, you may consider using those hours of operation as guideposts for setting your time bid adjustment.  Studying the volume of activity during the times you are open can give you a good sense of when you may wish to raise or lower your bids.  For example, if your call center is closed during the night, you may wish to decrease bids during this time to avoid sending customers to unsupported lines.  By the same token, if you operate a physical store and see lulls in traffic during certain hours, you may wish to increase bids during this time and run ads with promotional offers to drive more people to your business.

Time bid adjustments are a key part of enhanced campaigns.  To use time bid adjustments alongside location and mobile bid adjustments, you’ll need to upgrade your campaigns.  Starting on July 22, 2013, we will begin automatically upgrading all campaigns to enhanced campaigns.

Later this week, we’ll dive deeper into ways you can use tools like flexible bid strategies to automate your bid settings based on specific business goals like cost per acquisition.

Posted by Ting Zhang, Global Search Solutions

Bidding Best Practices (Part 3) - Calculating mobile bid adjustments

Today’s post about calculating mobile bid adjustments is the third in a bidding best practices series. The previous post covered improving your results with location bid adjustments.

People are now constantly connected and switching seamlessly between devices. In fact, more than 38% of our daily media interactions occur on mobile1. This presents advertisers with new opportunities to reach customers anytime, anyplace, on any device. At Google, we want to help you capitalize on these opportunities and develop new strategies for your business to win on mobile.

Mobile bid adjustments in AdWords enhanced campaigns give advertisers the power to optimize bids across devices — all from a single campaign. In today’s post, we’ll help you understand how to calculate a mobile bid adjustment that accounts for the total conversion value your mobile ads drive for your business.

Review your current desktop and mobile performance
Before calculating your mobile bid adjustment, you can run an AdWords report to review your current desktop and mobile performance. While online conversions, app downloads, and calls are easy to track in AdWords, other conversions such as in-store visits may be harder to attribute directly to your ads. For those conversions, you may need to estimate their value. The closer you can estimate the value of these conversions, the more optimized your bid will be on mobile.

Calculate your mobile bid adjustment
The key to optimizing your mobile bid adjustment is to identify the ratio of mobile vs desktop (and tablet) conversion value. This is calculated by dividing your value per click on mobile by your value per click on desktop.

We’ll illustrate this calculation using the table below. Let’s say this data belongs to a national retailer with mobile and desktop websites as well as physical stores. In the past month, this retailer saw 10,000 clicks from her mobile ads and 10,000 clicks from her desktop and tablet ads.  Her mobile ads drove $900 of revenue from phone calls to her stores, $5,000 from online sales and $5,000 from in-store visits for a total of $10,900. During this same month, her desktop and tablet ads drove $100 of revenue from calls, $10,000 from online sales, and $2,000 from in-store visits for a total of $12,100.

With this information, the retailer calculates the value per click (for mobile and desktop) by dividing the total value (i.e., the total revenue from all conversion types) by the total number of clicks, respectively. In this case, the mobile value per click is $1.09 and the desktop value per click is $1.21.

The retailer’s mobile bid adjustment is the ratio of these two values: she divides the value per click on mobile by the value per click on desktop and then subtracts 1. In this case we have (1.09/1.21) - 1, or a -10% mobile bid adjustment that can be entered into AdWords.

Iterate and test
As with all online marketing techniques, mobile bid adjustments aren’t something you should just “set and forget.” Frequent iteration and testing will help you account for changes in seasonality or business operations.  Due to varying screen sizes on mobile, we also recommend that you keep a close eye on your mobile impression share so that your ads show in the top positions.

Learn more
To learn more about mobile bid adjustments, visit the AdWords Help Center or watch this recording of this hangout on air, “Enhanced Campaigns: Optimizing Mobile Strategy.

To use mobile bid adjustments, you’ll need to upgrade your campaigns to enhanced campaigns. Starting on July 22, 2013, we will begin automatically upgrading all campaigns.

Next week, we’ll dive deeper into ways you can use tools like conversion optimizer and eCPC to automate your bid settings based on specific business goals like ROI.

Posted by Andy Miller, Head of Mobile Search Solutions


Bidding Best Practices (Part 2): Improving Results with Location Bid Adjustments

Today’s post about improving results with location bid adjustments is the second in a bidding best practices series. The series began with prioritizing and iterating on your bid adjustments.

Your advertising performance almost always varies by location, no matter what kind of business you run. The good news is that if you optimize your bids for different locations, you can increase your sales and ROI.

Optimizing bids for better performance by location
With enhanced campaigns, it’s now much easier to boost bids in locations where your performance is stronger and reduce bids where performance is weaker. Before enhanced campaigns, you’d have to set up and manage an identical campaign for every location where you wanted unique bids. Since this was hard, the most common approach to location optimization has been to cut out underperforming locations using targeting exclusions. But in the long run, this approach can limit your growth and reduce your business competitiveness. So we recommend using bid adjustments rather than location exclusions.

Calculating location bid adjustments
Start by downloading a location performance report. Here’s how, using the AdWords interface:
  1. Set the date range to the past 30 days (longer if your campaign is on the smaller side).
  2. Click on the “Location details” button and select “What triggered your ad.”
  3. Click the View button and select Region.
  4. Click Download.
To maximize orders or leads at a particular CPA or ROI level, a common best practice for setting bid adjustments is to equalize your target metrics across all locations. As a math formula, it looks like this:

Location bid adjustment = 100% * ( ( Campaign goal ÷ Actual performance ) - 1 )

Here’s an example from a campaign with a cost-per-action goal.

Example of calculating your location bid adjustment
LocationConversionsCostCPACPA GoalLocation bid adjustment
Florida100$800$8$10100% * [(10÷8) - 1] = +25%
New York120$1080$9$10100% * [(10÷9) - 1] = +11%
Ohio70$1050$15$10100% * [(10÷15) - 1] = -33%
Pennsylvania85$850$10$10100% * [(10÷10) - 1] = 0%

You can implement your bid adjustments in the AdWords interface (directions) or using the AdWords Editor (directions).

Businesses with local stores or service areas
Closer customers are often more likely to buy from you and less costly to serve. So if your business has local stores or service areas, you should consider optimizing your bids based on customer proximity. For example, you can easily set one location target for customers within 2 miles of your business locations, and a second target for customers within 20 miles of your business locations (directions). Then use the approach described above to calculate your optimum bid adjustment for your two location extension targets.

Tips and reminders
  • Maintain a broad location target to cover your entire potential market. Targeting too narrowly can limit your reach, clicks and conversions.

  • It’s OK to set overlapping location targets with bid adjustments. We’ll only apply the most specific location bid adjustment. For example, say you have a +10% bid adjustment for Canada and a +20% bid adjustment for Montreal. When someone searches in Montreal, your bid will be increased by 20%. And you’ll see distinct performance stats for Montreal and all of Canada except Montreal on the Locations subtab on the campaign Settings main tab.

  • Be careful when you don’t have much data. Otherwise your calculated bid adjustments could end up being too high or too low, and you could end up with worse results instead of better. If you don’t have statistical expertise on hand, we recommend not adjusting bids in locations with fewer than 1000 clicks and 30 conversions, as a general rule of thumb. Lengthening the date range for your reports to the past 90 days or more can help.

  • Periodically check performance and increment your bid adjustments. From time to time, check your performance for each location target on the Locations subtab. Incrementally raise your bid adjustment where your performance is above your goal, and lower your bid adjustment where your performance is below your goal. This will allow you to optimize your bids over time and adjust to changing consumer behavior.
Posted by John Sullivan, Global Search Solutions

Bidding Best Practices (Part 1 of 5) - Prioritizing and Iterating on Your Bid Adjustments

Today, we are kicking off an in-depth education series to help advertisers optimize bids for their AdWords campaigns in the multi-screen world using many of the new features and tools that we recently introduced.  Throughout the series, we’ll cover best practices for setting bid adjustments within enhanced campaigns, including recommendations for how to set mobile, location, and time of day bid adjustments.  We’ll also showcase ways to incorporate automation into the bid optimization process and share how businesses are using these solutions to meet specific objectives. We hope you will find this series useful.

Today’s post will provide best practices for prioritizing bid adjustments across location, time and device.  It will also suggest ways to optimize these adjustments over time, especially as outcomes and business conditions change.


In this new multi-screen world, advertisers are seeking new ways to reach people with ads that are relevant to their context. With an enhanced campaign, you can easily reach consumers and vary bids by device, location, and time of day – all within a single campaign. Learn more about the three types of bid adjustments and what each one can do for your business.

Stacking bid adjustments

Bid adjustments can be stacked on top of each other to optimize reach for each campaign. For example, if you operate a store in San Francisco and know that your campaign performs well on mobile devices on every day except Sunday, then you can set bid adjustments to increase bids for mobile and San Francisco; and decrease them for Sundays.


Adjusted keyword bid =
Initial keyword bid $1.00 X (San Francisco 1.2) X (Sunday 0.5) X (Mobile 1.1) = $0.66

In this example, we set the location bid adjustment for San Francisco to +20%, the time bid adjustment for Sunday to -50%, and the mobile bid adjustment to +10%.  Assuming that your initial bid was $1.00, then your final bid would be $0.66, or -34% compared with your original bid.

Multiple bid adjustments, as in this example, can help you achieve a desired bidding strategy. But individual bid adjustments still apply across all dimensions.  For example, the decreased bid for Sundays applies across all devices and geographies.

Prioritizing bid adjustments

The way you manage your business operations and set overall goals are key factors that determine the order in which you set bid adjustments. We recommend setting your most important bid adjustment type first (location, device or time).  When you’re happy with your performance, you can add the second type of bid adjustments -- and eventually the third.

It’s a good idea to apply basic business sense to this process:
  • If you have a store which is only open during certain hours, time will likely be the most important bid adjustment to set first.
  • If you see very different advertising performance across countries, cities, states or zip codes (or if you wish to bid higher for users who are physically close to your stores), location may be the first bid adjustment to set.
  • If your advertising performance varies widely between mobile and non-mobile devices, device could be your starting point for bid adjustments.
AdWords provides useful information to determine which bid adjustment type is the most important one for you. You may also have third-party tools or backend systems that can inform prioritization.


Over time, you should iterate on each of your bid adjustments to achieve desired outcomes as your results and business conditions change.  We recommend reviewing these adjustments on a regular basis to capture seasonal changes and to ensure that you are optimizing for ROI.

Keep in mind that better data about your advertising performance will help you optimize your bid adjustments.  Below are some tips:
  • If you do not track conversions, you can optimize your bid adjustments based on clicks or impressions.
  • If you do track the number of conversions (using AdWords Conversion Tracking, Google Analytics or other tools), you can set your bid adjustments based on your actual conversions and CPA.
  • If you track the revenue or profit associated with each conversion (using the Ecommerce functionality of Google Analytics or other tools), you can set your bid adjustments based on the actual revenue that results from your ads.

To use the features that we reviewed today, you’ll need to upgrade your campaigns to enhanced campaigns.  Starting on July 22, 2013, we will begin automatically upgrading all campaigns.  Learn more.

Next week, we’ll dive deeper into how to customize your mobile bid adjustment for each campaign by combining your AdWords data (impressions, clicks and cost) with key stats about your business, like number of in-store visitors from your ads and their average order value.

Posted by John Sullivan, Global Search Solutions