AdWords Device Bidding Update: 4 Questions to Ask Before Optimizing

In August, Google started rolling out a new and exciting update that the PPC world has been waiting for a long time. Like previously discussed in my Google’s Summit post, AdWords will be giving advertisers the ability to bid on all three devices individually. These devices include desktop, mobile, and tablet.

old versus new device bidding

This updated is big news for advertisers, as desktop and tablet traffic, which were previously tied together, can now be bid on individually. Beyond that, advertisers can now increase their bid adjustment up to 900%.

Before making changes to AdWords device bidding, it’s important for advertisers to ask themselves a few questions. In this post, we’ll go over 4 questions to ask before optimizing by device:

How Has Tablet Traffic Been Performing?

Like previously mentioned, the biggest change for this update is that advertisers now have the ability to adjust the bid, or completely opt out of, tablet bidding.

Tablet Bidding Example

Before doing either, advertisers should look at the tablet data in AdWords separately. Data points that should be looked at include:

  • Click-Through-Rate
  • Cost Per Click
  • Number of Conversions (if tracked)

Ultimately, advertisers don’t want tablet traffic to hurt their account performance. If the CTR is being dragged down by tablet users, or users aren’t converting as much, it make sense to cut these users off and focus on desktop or mobile. In the end, this can only help improve quality score.

How Is the Mobile/Tablet Landing Destination?

One of the biggest determinations of whether or not an advertiser should opt out of tablet and mobile devices is the landing page experience. In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine any company that doesn’t have a website optimized for mobile devices.

Surprisingly, as of last year, more than 40% of sites are still not mobile friendly. Even then, 54% of mobile users say mobile-optimized websites don’t give enough information. In the end, a poor mobile experience can be the difference between a new customer and a lost customer.

In AdWords, it was advised that if a website is not mobile-friendly, then the mobile bid adjustment should be set to -100%. For tablets, where the experience is closer to a mobile device than a desktop, nothing could be done in the past. Advertisers were stuck running ads to users who might not be able to fully utilize their site.

With this new update, advertisers are now able to follow a similar strategy as mobile and decrease their bid adjustment accordingly.

Are There Any “Mobile-Only” Campaigns Running?

Originally, if an advertiser wanted to have a separate campaign dedicated to only mobile, it was not possible using normal means. In order to block out desktop traffic, advertisers needed to bid much lower than average on keywords, and increase the mobile bid adjustment. Even then, desktop traffic could still come through.

Mobile Bidding

If an advertiser is currently using this strategy, it is advised to go back into device bidding and decrease the desktop bid adjustment by -100%. While this won’t cause a big change to the account, it will ensure there are virtually no desktop clicks coming in a “mobile-only” campaign.

How Much Should Advertisers Adjust the Bidding?

Finally, the biggest question when it comes to optimizing by device: If an advertiser has asked these questions and plans on using all three devices for a campaign, what should be bid on for each?

Ultimately, that comes down to looking at the past performance and understanding how users act on each device. For example, if tablet users have a lower cost per conversion, but aren’t getting shown as much due to a poor average position, it would make sense to increase the bid there. This will allow for a better average position, resulting in more impressions and conversions.

Advertisers should start with small bid adjustments, observe the results, and make changes accordingly. With patience and constant monitoring, a balance between the cost per click and the desired results can be achieved.


In the coming weeks, Google will be rolling the AdWords device bidding update to all accounts. Whether or not the update is available to them now, advertisers should be ready to answer these questions in order to make sure they take advantage of this opportunity. Understanding the mobile user experience, looking at past data, and adjusting the device bid adjustments appropriately are all key to success.

At the end of the day, this update has been a long time coming, and we in the PPC world couldn’t be happier.

“The team at KoMarketing was great at listening to our organization’s needs to ensure they were on the same page with goals and objectives. They provided a clear path for getting to desired results, were fast and flexible when adjustments were needed and above all else, provided the highest level of client service. KoMarketing is a pleasure to partner with!”

Melissa Sopwith — Melissa Sopwith, Marketing Manager, Guidon Performance Solutions, a Teletech Company

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