There is a simple rule in advertising:
Advertise aggressively to people who are more interested in your offer.
Makes perfect sense. The hard part has always been identifying the audience that’s more interested. In the past, you often couldn’t tell the tire kickers from serious leads.
Enter the advantages of digital marketing. You can track where, when, and how people search for you, as well as create remarketing lists of people who’ve already interacted with your content.
- Are there certain ads that convert better for you on mobile devices?
- Are there certain times of day you get more conversions?
- Do you do better with people in large urban areas?
- If someone reads a particular blog, are they more likely to convert?
When you have the answers to these types of questions, you can adjust the amount you bid on ads to improve your ranking, which is a tactic called bid adjustment. Here is an overview from Google:
A bid adjustment is simply a percentage increase you want to adjust your bid (up or down) based on a chosen criteria. In AdWords, you’ll see this option when you go to the various categories within your campaign:
For example, in this case, we went to the devices category on the campaign, and adjusted our bids to be 20% higher when someone does a search on a mobile device:
Types of Bid Adjustments
If your data shows you get more conversions when someone searches on a particular device (mobile, tablet, or desktop) you can adjust your bids to favor this device.
You can also favor this for certain known behaviors. For example, we know that many online shoppers research products more on mobile devices, then go back and make a purchase on their computer. You could adjust your bids up for searches on mobile that indicate people are doing research on your product type.
You could then create a different ad group for desktop searches that use keywords which indicate stronger intent to buy now and adjust bids up.
When your data indicates that people in certain locations are converting better, adjust your bids higher in those locations and/or lower them in locations that don’t convert as well.
Location bid adjustments can only be done at the campaign level.
Ad Scheduling and Dayparting
Some businesses get far more conversions at certain times of the day or week. Other times you may all but want to have your ads turned off. Adjust bids for any day or period of the day.
For example, in this case study, the bids were dropped by 50% on Fridays and Saturdays. This resulted in far fewer impressions and clicks, but much better cost per conversion because conversions didn’t really drop:
If one action is favorable over another (say a click to call instead of a website visit) you can adjust bids to favor that action.
Note how you can combine efforts here. For example, if you want to increase bids on direct calls during the time of day you’re available, you can do both interaction and scheduling bid adjustments. If more of these searches happen on mobile, adjust there as well.
Remarketing lists for search ads (RSLA) are a particularly effective way to use bid adjustments.
For this, you have a list of people created who previously visited your website. Say, for example, you develop a list of people who visit a page about your services where the content is the first step in converting.
They don’t convert on that visit, but their behavior suggests they’re getting ready. You can target this group using the most competitive keywords, controlling your ad spend because you’re only targeting people who’ve shown interest and taken an important step in engaging with your content.
Bid adjustments are important marketing tactic based on a response to data. For this to be effective, you need to run some more general campaigns to identify the places where your conversions are better. When you find areas that match the types of bid adjustments, you can start refining the way you spend on PPC.
If you’re looking for a way to gain a competitive advantage, bid adjustments may be it. Most novices either don’t understand these tactics or they don’t take the time to refine them to optimal performance. If you do, you’ll be the advertiser who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. You’ll also avoid wasting clicks in places where you’re not winning new business.