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.

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


New Flexible Bid Strategies Available In Enhanced Campaigns

Have you ever wished you could apply automated bidding to part of your campaign while manually bidding on other keywords in the same campaign? Or maybe you’ve wanted to apply a single bid strategy to some keywords, but they’re in different campaigns?  Now you can with flexible bid strategies, available in the next couple weeks when you upgrade to an enhanced campaign. Flexible bid strategies let you apply multiple bidding strategies within a single campaign or across campaigns. This provides you the freedom to choose the appropriate bid strategy without being constrained by account structure.

Control and insights with new flexible bid strategies

Ramping up over the next couple weeks, flexible bid strategies can be found in the Shared library (see image below). Once you’ve created a flexible bid strategy, you can apply it to specific keywords, ad groups, and campaigns and monitor its performance.

Here’s more information about what each flexible bid strategy does and when you can use it:

Flexible bid strategy
What it does
When to use it
Target search page location
(new bid strategy)
Automatically tries to get your ads to the top of the page, or onto the first page of search results
+ When you want more visibility on the first page of Google Search results or in the top positions
Maximize clicks
(flexible version of Automatic Bidding)
Automatically sets bids to get you the most clicks, within a target spend amount that you choose
+ When site visits are your primary goal
+ When you want to maximize traffic on long tail terms and keep to a certain spend
Target CPA
(flexible version of Conversion Optimizer)
Automatically sets bids to get you as many conversions as possible while reaching your target average CPA goal
+ When you want to get the most conversions at your target CPA
Enhanced CPC
(flexible version of Enhanced CPC)
Automatically adjusts your manual bid up or down based on each click’s likelihood to result in a conversion
+ When conversions are the main objective, but you also want control over keyword bids

Some of our bid strategies incorporate real-time details during each auction such as device, location, and other context signals to adjust your bids based on your ad’s predicted performance. This approach offers the potential for even better performance. Target CPA and Enhanced CPC use this technology today, and it will be incorporated into other bidding strategies in the future.

Customizing the new flexible bid strategies to work for you

Flexible bid strategies let you apply a bid strategy to keywords across separate campaigns, or test multiple bid strategies within a single campaign. Say, for example, you run a network security consulting business. You might have some keywords like ‘network security’ in multiple campaigns focused on generating awareness for your business. You can apply the Target search page location bidding strategy to those specific keywords regardless of where they are in your account, to keep them in top positions.  Then let’s say you have another campaign mainly aimed at lead generation with keywords like ”perimeter network security audit,” but which also has some awareness building keywords, too, like “perimeter network security best practices.” In this campaign, you can use the Target CPA bidding strategy for the lead generation ad groups and use the Target search page location bidding strategy for the awareness building keywords.

You can learn more about flexible bid strategies by visiting our help center. As with all types of automation, we recommend that you periodically monitor your bid strategies’ performance relative to your advertising goals.

In addition to new features like flexible bid strategies and support for many-per-click conversions in Conversion Optimizer, we’re working on more optimization features to help you more easily achieve your advertising goals, like return on ad spend. Let us know what you think of these new flexible bid strategies on our Ads Google+ page and stay tuned for more to come.

Posted by Andrea Cohan, Product Marketing Manager, AdWords

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