Google Ads bid adjustments

Adjusting bids in Google Ads Contextual advertising

Bid adjustment in Google Ads makes it possible to set ad impressions only to the target audience, eliminating the cost of interacting with those who are unlikely to become potential customers in the near future. This tool is often misused.

By managing bids, you can adjust the cost of a click on an ad, taking into account the user’s device type, geographic location, advertising platform, etc. As a result, the budget is spent much more efficiently.

What is bid adjustment in contextual advertising?

Bid adjustment in contextual advertising is the percentage of deviation of the bid per click on an ad up or down, depending on the parameters specified by the advertisers.

The algorithm is more likely than hard-coded values to show ads to users from a specific location or choose the most optimal time to display an ad in a higher position. The budget is saved due to the most accurate hit in the audience.

The mechanism is based on the following principle. The higher the bid is set for the most effective locations, time or device, the more profitable the position of the advertiser’s ad in the search results will be, which will lead to an increase in the share of conversion clicks.

Help! According to statistics, the correct bid adjustment saves up to a third of the advertising budget.

In those areas where the high cost of a conversion leads to minimal values or a complete lack of profit, it will not be possible to reduce the average lead acquisition cost without adjustments. In highly competitive niches, refusing to use this tool will lead to a lack of leads due to a weak position in the auction compared to competitors.

How do I set up bid adjustments in Google Ads?

Bids in the system in Google Ads are adjusted according to the following criteria:

  • geolocation;
  • device type;
  • target audiences;
  • interactions;
  • content demand;
  • demographic markers;
  • ad schedule;
  • Remarketing lists for search ads.

Information! Bids can be adjusted from -90% to 900% both at the campaign and ad group levels. For the system, the second option is more priority.

It is allowed to specify several criteria at the same time, while the total limit for all selected parameters cannot exceed 900%.

User devices

It is advisable to increase rates for smartphones when promoting such products, the decision to purchase which is made quickly, and the search for information is carried out using mobile devices in the vast majority of cases. Examples of such products are pizza delivery, taxi, car towing or emergency door opening.

In other areas, this criterion is usually subject to a downward adjustment. For example, if you have an unfinished mobile version of the site, do not hesitate to specify -100%.

Information about which device-specific adjustments you need to make in your case can be obtained by analyzing the data in the Google Analytics Campaigns report. Here, having set a filter for a given campaign, you should select “Device type” in the “Additional parameters” and track the conversion for each of them:

Bid adjustment in contextual advertising depending on the user's device

In the Google Ads campaign parameters in the “Devices” block, enter the bid adjustment factor for smartphone users:

Increasing bid per click for smartphones


Different regions and cities for the same business area often differ in the level of competition. Accordingly, the cost per click for each of them will be different. If you offer a product both in the capital and in the regions, consider this criterion.

Regional adjustment in the AdWords system is convenient to set directly in the user location report. You can do this by opening the “Location” section in the advanced settings. You need to find the “Geographic Performance Report”.

After setting the required type of location in the drop-down list, you will see a more detailed report where you can change rates depending on the user’s geolocation:

Control bids based on geolocation

Show time

This criterion allows you to influence the reach depending on the level of conversion in a given period of time. You can set it up in campaigns with manual bid management.

The adjustment is relevant for those advertisers who receive customer requests unevenly throughout the day, while peak hours are pronounced.

For a food delivery company, for example, demand and, as a result, competition skyrockets at lunchtime. Therefore, it is advisable to set higher rates for this period, and use a reduction factor during hours with a low frequency of requests.

Bid adjustments based on time can be configured in the “Ad Schedule” section. Specify the percentage of possible rejection when setting up the impression schedule:

Different bids per click for different impression times

Content popularity

Bid adjustments in Google Ads are possible depending on the popularity of the content within which the ad will be placed. For example, you can increase your bid for popular YouTube videos or articles on the Display Network. The parameter is adjustable from 0-500%. You can only set rejection at the ad group level.

Target Audiences

There are two ways to focus your ad impressions on the target audience: use appropriate targeting or set up bid adjustments in Google Ads.

For example, you can increase your bids to show ads to people who have added an item to their cart but haven’t completed their purchase. These users are more likely to see ads on subsequent searches.

Information! By writing a scenario for promoting your product, you can get rid of inappropriate impressions and increase the frequency of interaction with a “hot” audience.

Use Audience Manager to create segments:

 Audience Manager

You can use both your own data and Analytics data as a basis:

Creating a custom audience in Google Ads

You should not re-show ads to those who have already closed a deal if, according to statistics, one client in your field makes only one purchase, for example, buying an online course.

Go to the campaign settings to set the adjustment. Here we are interested in the “Audience” block:

Audiences in ad campaign settings

After selecting an audience, specify the range of possible bid deviation.

Remarketing Lists

Used to adjust bids in search ads. As a target audience for ads, the algorithm selects only those who have previously visited the site. It is allowed to change rates in the range from -90% to +900%.

Information! The tool is effective when selling products in niches where buyers do not make a purchase decision immediately.

If you regularly see high conversions for returning users compared to first-time visitors, then create remarketing lists. Add them to your campaign and increase your bids to prioritize those visitors.

Interactions (bid adjustments for calls)

To make phone number ads more effective, use call bid adjustments.

Add display of user calls to conversion reports. Select the “Phone calls” value so that they are regarded by the system as targeted actions:

AdWords ads with phone number

By analyzing campaigns and identifying those that generate the most calls, you can increase the priority of customers who prefer phone interaction without changing your ad click rates.

Important! You should increase the rates for calls only if you have operators who are always ready to serve them. If it will be difficult for potential buyers to get through, then you will waste part of the budget.

Set the appropriate AC parameters in the “Advanced bid adjustments” module:

Advanced bid adjustment settings

Demographic data

Google AdWords algorithms collect data about visitors, capturing many of their demographic characteristics. These criteria can also be used to regulate rates.

The tool is successfully used in topics where there is a clearly defined portrait of a potential buyer. This, for example, can be men 35+ if you are promoting classic business suits of premium level. It is advisable to increase the rates for males over 35 years old, and exclude women from the target audience.

Estimating statistics by demographic criteria is most convenient in Google Analytics. Use “Audiences” to open the corresponding report. Here, you can set a filter for a specific campaign in the additional parameters:

Analyze the age and gender of the audience on the site

After analyzing and calculating the coefficient, in the campaign settings in the “Demography” section, click on “Gender” or “Age”, mark the target group of visitors and adjust the rates:

Change rates depending on age

What to consider when adjusting Google AdWords bids?

While focusing on cost minimization, it’s important to keep in mind that bid adjustments may lead to lower coverage. The following recommendations will help to avoid this:

  1. Any hypotheses, even the most obvious ones, require verification and testing.
  2. Not to be overlooked is the fact that adjustments can overlap, creating a “multiplier” effect that causes a much larger rate increase.
  3. The bidding algorithm will always prioritize ad group-level settings, even if the advertiser has additionally set campaign-level adjustments.
  4. Selecting a location-based adjustment from multiple overlapping options is always based on the most specific location if it matches the visitor’s location.
  5. Always use downward adjustments during the low season when there is a minimum demand for the product, and it is not expected to increase in the near term. For example, in late autumn, if you sell air conditioners.
  6. Statistical information is required to adjust adjustments. Moreover, you should get advertising data for at least a year and only then set the rules for changing rates. In the meantime, algorithms collect information, you can improve the site, fill it with content, etc.
  7. Maximum return on investment can only be achieved by constantly testing various adjustment strategies. To reduce the influence of random factors on the experiment, do not jump to conclusions. Wait at least 7-10 days.

Bid adjustment in Google AdWords is a convenient and useful tool that allows an advertiser to increase the effectiveness of an advertising campaign. However, its uncontrolled use often leads to traffic loss.

Сергей Шевченко
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