You’re the digital marketing manager for a company that spends a minimum of $1,000 per month on pay-per-click (PPC) ads. You’ve optimized the ad copy, the landing pages, and even the keyword match types.
But your ads still aren’t driving the results you’d hoped to achieve—and your costs are higher than you’d planned. What can you do to improve performance without increasing costs?
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about bid adjustments for Google Ads campaigns. Find out how bid adjustments can help you gain more control over ad spend for more successful campaign optimization.
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What is a bid adjustment?
A bid adjustment is a change to the standard amount you would offer in an ad auction, giving you more control over your bidding strategies. Google Ads measures bid adjustments in percentages, and the platform allows for both increases and decreases.
When you adjust a bid, you essentially tell the Google Ads platform that you want to change how frequently you show ads based on specific search factors. You may want to bid more or less for clicks from certain locations, times, or devices.
For instance, you may find that tablet users have generated a higher click-through rate (CTR) and a lower cost per click (CPC) than other device users. To capture more of these customers, you can opt to increase your bid by any percentage up to 900%.
But there’s one major caveat. Bid adjustments don’t work with Google Ads’ Smart Bidding options—such as target CPA (cost-per-acquisition)—because as an automated bid strategy, they’re already automated to optimize for conversion goals. Instead, this tool only works with manual strategies like manual CPC and cost per thousand impressions (CPM).
So what can they do? Bid adjustments give you access to tons of benefits:
Maintaining average daily budget: Bid adjustments can improve performance without changing your average daily spend. That means you could improve metrics like impressions or conversion rate without allocating more of your budget or spending more overall.
Testing minor modifications: Bid adjustments allow for extensive fine-tuning. You can start out by testing a big change, such as a 50% increase. Then you can decrease or increase bids by 10%, 5%, or even 1% increments to identify the exact adjustment that’s ideal for your campaign.
Increasing return on ad spend (ROAS): As you learn which audiences, devices, locations, and other factors drive the best performance, you can adjust bids accordingly. Then you can optimize ad delivery and increase ROAS simultaneously.
8 Google Ads bid adjustment types
The Google Ads platform provides eight types of bid adjustments. Availability and adjustment ranges depend on the campaign type you choose.
1. Device bid adjustments
Device bid adjustments control how frequently your ads reach desktop, mobile, and tablet users. You can adjust by anywhere from -100% to +900% at the campaign or ad group level. You can use this option for search, display, video, and Shopping campaigns.
2. Location bid adjustments
Location bid adjustments affect how often you show ads to users in various geographic regions. They work at the campaign level and allow for -90% to +900% modifications. This option is compatible with search, display, video, and Shopping campaigns.
3. Ad scheduling bid adjustments
Ad scheduling bid adjustments let you increase by up to 900% or decrease by up to 90% what you want to pay at a certain time of day or day of the week. This option works with search, display, video, and Shopping campaigns and requires a custom ad schedule.
4. Top content bid adjustments
If you want to show your ads more frequently alongside popular content, top content bid adjustments can help. They work at the ad group level and allow for as much as a 500% increase. You can use this option for Display Network and video campaigns.
5. Targeting method bid adjustments
To change how frequently your ads show on certain topics and ad placements, use targeting method bid adjustments. They let you bid up to 900% more or 90% less than normal and work at the campaign and ad group level. This option is available for Display and Search Network campaigns.
6. Remarketing bid adjustments
Do you use remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) to reconnect with people who have already visited your site? Remarketing bid adjustments can help you reach recent visitors more reliably, with options ranging from -90% to +900%. RLSA bid adjustments work with search, Shopping, and YouTube campaigns at the ad group and campaign level.
7. Interactions bid adjustments
If you run call-only ads or you use call extensions, interactions bid adjustments can help you connect with users on mobile devices more or less frequently. This option works at the campaign level on the Search Network only.
8. Demographics bid adjustments
To increase or decrease your chance of reaching people in a certain gender, age range, or income groups, use demographics bid adjustments. They allow for up to 90% decreases and up to 900% increases at the campaign or ad group level. You can leverage this demographic targeting option with both display and search campaigns.
How to calculate bid adjustments
Calculating bid adjustments seems easy at first. If you make a single adjustment, you can simply add that percentage to the standard bid. For example, if you increased the bid for tablet users by 50%, your standard $1 bid would become $1.50.
But if you make multiple bid adjustments, the math gets a little more complicated. In most cases, you have to multiply the percentages in order of how they apply.
For example, say you increased your $1 bid for tablet users by 50%, but you also decreased bids by 80% on Mondays. You’d start by adding 50% to the starting bid, which equals $1.50. On every day except Monday, you would bid $1.50 for tablet users.
To calculate the final bid adjustment for Mondays, you’d have to subtract 80% from the $1.50 bid. On Mondays only, you would bid $.30 to reach tablet users.
When calculating bid adjustments, keep these rules in mind:
- If you set bid adjustments at both the campaign and ad group level, Google Ads prioritizes ad group-level adjustments
- Google Ads adjusts for the most specific location (such as Los Angeles vs. California) if you set multiple location-based bid adjustments
- You can decrease bids by up to 90% in most cases, but device bid adjustments allow for 100% decreases. If you set a 100% decrease for a device bid adjustment, Google Ads won’t bid on related ad auctions at all, even if you’ve set other adjustments
How to adjust bids for Google Ads
To set different bids, navigate to your Google Ads account and open the campaign or ad group you want to adjust. Find the element you want to modify, such as an income range, a geographic location, or a device type.
Hover over the Bid Adjustment column and click the pencil icon that appears. Use the arrow to toggle between Increase and Decrease. Then enter a percentage and click Save to confirm the bid modifier.
Start fine-tuning your Google Ads bids
When you want to optimize your ad campaigns, bid adjustments can be incredibly useful. But this certainly isn’t the only bidding tool the Google Ads platform offers. Find out how Bid Simulators can improve your campaigns, bidding strategies, and ROAS—or ask us how a Google Ads agency can handle ad setup and bidding for you.