Commentary

How To Handle Google's Recent Device Adjustment Changes

Since Google rolled out Enhanced Campaigns in 2013, advertisers have been clamoring for more freedom in device-level targeting and bidding. With the rollout, bids have been anchored to the desktop device and adjusted for mobile by applying a percent change (from -100% to +300%). Tablet bids were not adjustable, matching the desktop bid.  

On May 24, Google announced significant changes that will give advertisers more control over device targeting and bidding. Advertisers will be able to decide which is the primary device for bidding and make percent adjustments (-100% to +900%) to the other two devices. This enables advertisers to uncouple tablet from desktop as well as run device-specific campaigns. Depending on the advertiser, this could alter the strategy and structure of their AdWords account going forward.

So the questions advertisers will ask themselves are “what does this mean for my account?” and “what changes (if any) should I make?” Here are some things advertisers can look for in their account when trying to answer these questions:

  1. Am I running on mobile currently?
  2. Is my site mobile-optimized?
  3. How much volume do I have for each device (desktop, tablet, mobile)?
  4. What does efficiency look like for each device?
  5. Are there campaign-level levers that should be considered?

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If they are not currently running on mobile, then advertisers will want to focus on analysis of their desktop and tablet traffic. If they are running on mobile, but don’t have a strong mobile experience, then they may want to focus on improving the mobile layout of their site first.

If running on all devices, then advertisers should start by pulling campaign-level performance data by device. Advertisers can find this information by going to the “Campaigns” tab and clicking “Segment” then “Device” in the drop-down menu. This will break performance down by device for each campaign, and advertisers can scroll to the bottom of the page to see totals by device for all campaigns within the account.

Once the data is in hand, advertisers can then do the analysis necessary to inform their next move. Specifically, they want to identify the following by device information:

  1. Raw Data (impressions, clicks and conversions)
  2. Efficiency (CPA, ROAS, conversion rate)

Raw data will be the first indicator of whether advertisers need to re-evaluate an account structure and strategy. If they have limited volume for two of the three devices, then it won’t make sense to make any sweeping changes to their current approach.

If, however, they find significant volume from more than one device, then the next thing they will want to look at is efficiency. Does one particular device have a significantly stronger conversion rate than the others? How about the ROAS or CPA? Don’t invest time in altering strategy or restructuring existing campaigns unless meaningful results are expected to follow from such a change.

For newer advertisers who don’t have a lot of historical data to draw from, a key indicator for whether they should pursue structural changes to accommodate separate device strategies could include target audience, mobile experience on their site, or product/service offering.

In addition, since certain levers are only available at the campaign level, advertisers should analyze how using those levers affects each device’s performance. Do certain devices perform substantially better than others in certain locations? What about different times of day? Mobile advertisers with poor performance (because of their mobile experience or otherwise) can target mobile users in a separate campaign and optimize to run ads only during the best hours and in the best locations. If tablet users convert in the evening instead of the afternoon like their desktop counterparts, you can separate them now and target the appropriate times with bid adjustments.

Google’s recently announced changes will not necessarily have a direct impact on every advertiser. Advertisers should each evaluate what makes sense for them using the considerations previously noted and act accordingly. But for most advertisers, gaining additional flexibility in device targeting and bidding will factor into future account strategy and structure. 

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