In a time where PPC or paid search is often referred to as biddable media, we as an agency wanted to explore the methods and practices that go into bidding as a discipline.

So, we decided that a series of blog posts should do the trick!

Firstly, we’ll take a look at bid adjustments. After setting your desired cost per click limit, you can make rules or “modifiers” to increase that bid when your user meets a criteria relevant to your targeting.


So what bid ‘adjustments’ are there?

Bid adjustments can be set at either the Campaign level or the Ad Group level. The following adjustments are available at Campaign level:

  • Time
  • Device
  • Location

These adjustments are available at the Ad Group level:

  • Audience
  • Demographics - Gender & Age
  • Topics/Interest

  • It is important to note that a keyword or ad group can have multiple bid adjustments applied to it, e.g. a device and a location adjustment.

    What we’re left with is a lot of bidding variables to play with. But, as with most things in life, you can’t be too careful!

    How you can lose control of your bids?

    With many adjustments included, the bid becomes a cumulative factor of the two or more applied bid adjustments.

    This means that we need to be very careful when setting bid adjustments so that our cumulative adjustments don’t lose control.

    An example:

    Let’s imagine we have an Ad Group with a bid of £4.00 and we apply the following bid adjustments to it:

    So the resulting bid for a 40 year old male in London, interested in property for sale is:

    • Age bid adjustment for 35-44 = 25%
    • Gender bid adjustment for males = 20%
    • Location bid adjustment for London = 25%
    • In Market Property for Sale Audience bid adjustment = 20%

    £4.00 x 1.25 x 1.2 x 1.25 x 1.2 = £9.00

    £9! For one click!

    This then poses the question: is this click worth the £9.00 you will be bidding?

    It’s important to note that when we change the bid amount, the effect of the adjustments can be further exaggerated. So let’s say in the above example we want to increase our keyword bid by £1.

    This makes our new bid £5.00 but taking into account those four bid adjustments, our maximum bid can be as high as £11.25. So, again, we ask: is this click worth bidding £11.25 for?

    What can we do to make it count?

    The key to using bid adjustments such as this is to find clear data that shows certain characteristics performing far better than others.

    When we talk about being ‘data driven’, this is often what we’re referring to. With enough supporting evidence, the question of “is it worth it?” becomes much easier to answer.

    We avoid applying any bid adjustments over 50% unless there is a very specific reason for doing so. In most cases, we use bid adjustments in the region of 5-20%.

    We also recommend using as many negative bid adjustments as positives. If we find that an age group performs far better than another, we would suggest setting a small, positive bid adjustment for the high-performance age group. This will ensure that the bids do not run out of control and should keep the average CPC at a reasonable level.

    Google Ads does have its limits, though. The maximum combined adjustment for any keyword at the Ad Group level is 900% (i.e. a £1 bid becomes a £10 bid) and the minimum combined bid adjustments is -90% (i.e. a £1 bid becomes £0.10).

    Only part of the solution

    There are a number of simple yet effective ways of adding depth to your campaigns and bid adjustment is just one way of doing so. We aim for the best results across all campaigns and having this extensive knowledge makes our goal a possibility.

    In the next instalment, we’ll explore the complex relationship between automated bidding models and bid modifiers. Check back soon!

    In the meantime if you’d like to discuss how we can help to optimise your paid media campaign or wider digital strategy please get in touch via our enquiry form or give us a call on 01372 749 200.