Google Ads offers a wide array of features and options to help optimize your campaigns for the best results. One of those features is called bid adjustments. With bid adjustments, you tell the system to alter your bids in the auction based on specified conditions. For example, if it’s more important for your ads to show on desktop computers rather than mobile devices, you can set a bid adjustment for minus fifty percent (-50%) in the auction for mobile devices. This would most likely decrease your ad’s visibility on mobile devices significantly.

Bid adjustments offer a tremendous advantage. With pay-per-click advertising, there is always the dilemma of whether to broaden or narrow the ad targeting. Broadening means more people will see the ad. Narrowing means fewer people will see the ad, but they are probably better prospects. With bid adjustments, it’s not an “either-or” proposition. You can target broadly and then adjust bids in a customized way to get the best of both worlds.

You can find the bid adjustments panel from the left menu when logged into your Google Ads account.

Here are some of the different targeting methods for which you can apply bid adjustments:

Device

Device bid adjustments allow you to control how often your ads get served on specific device types, like desktop computers, mobile smartphones, and tablets.

Where you can use them:

Device bid adjustments can be applied for campaigns and ad groups. If you apply them to both the campaign and ad group, the ad group’s bid adjustment will override the campaign bid adjustment.

Range:

Device bid adjustments can be a decrease of up to 100% or an increase of up to 900%. 

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Location

Location bid adjustments allow you to prioritize certain location areas over others, such as particular states, cities, or zip codes.

Where you can use them:

Location bid adjustments can only be applied for campaigns.

Range:

Location bid adjustments can be a decrease of up to 90% or an increase of up to 900%.

Ad scheduling

Ad scheduling bid adjustments allow you to increase or decrease your bids for certain hours of the day or days of the week. Using ad scheduling bid adjustments requires that a custom ad schedule be created.

Where you can use them:

Ad scheduling bid adjustments can only be applied to campaigns.

Range:

Ad scheduling bid adjustments can be a decrease of up to 90% or an increase of up to 900%.

Targeting methods

Bid adjustments can be set for some targeting methods for ads shown on the Google Search Network and Google Display Network, such as topics and placements.

Where you can use them:

Bid adjustments for targeting methods can be set for campaigns and ad groups.

Range:

Bid adjustments for targeting methods can be a decrease of up to 90% or an increase of up to 900%.

Interactions (Calls)

Bid adjustments for interactions affect how often call extensions, and call-only ads appear to users.

Where you can use them:

Bid adjustments for interactions can only be applied to campaigns.

Range:

Bid adjustments for interactions can be a decrease of up to 90% or an increase of up to 900%.

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Demographics

Demographic bid adjustments allow you to adjust your bids based on gender, age bracket, or household income levels.

Where you can use them:

Demographic bid adjustments can be applied to campaigns and ad groups.

Range:

Demographic bid adjustments can be a decrease of up to 90% or an increase of up to 900%

A few important notes

Here are a few things to keep in mind when using bid adjustments:

  • Using bid adjustments does not affect your campaign’s daily budget.
  • You can always increase or decrease the adjustments over time.
  • Bid adjustments can be combined if more than one type is used at the same time. For example, if you set a 10% bid increase for device and a 10% bid increase for location, both will be applied, resulting in a larger increase.
  • The highest possible combined bid adjustment is a 900% increase.
  • The lowest possible combined bid adjustment is -90%.
  • Bid adjustments can be set for targeting methods on the Google Display Network, including topics, placements, and other targeting methods.
  • Bid adjustments won’t apply when using smart bidding options since the system automatically makes adjustments on an auction-by-auction basis to achieve the specified result.
  • A business owner can create multiple geographic radius zones around their business location – such as five miles, ten miles, and fifteen miles – then use bid adjustments to compete more aggressively for searches in closer range and less aggressively for searches in farther range.

In closing

I am constantly amazed at how clever the Google Ads system is, and the bid adjustments feature is a great example of that. It provides excellent flexibility for targeting and cost. It is truly an indispensable feature that should be used by all advertisers who choose not to use smart bidding options.