August 20, 2014

14 Responses to Bing Ads Bid Modifiers and Unified Campaigns across Devices

Like us, you probably celebrated too soon about Bing’s ability to target mobile separately from desktop. Bing has recently announced they are sacrificing greater control across devices in favor of “complete compatibility” with Google AdWords. It appears Bing felt managing pay-per-click campaigns across different platforms was too difficult for their advertisers.

SearchEngineLand quoted David Pann, General Manager for the Search Network at Microsoft:

We’ve decided to change how Bing Ads handles device targeting. These changes will make it easier and more efficient for customers to manage their campaigns….

With this update, we’ll have complete compatibility with how ad campaigns are managed within Bing Ads and Google AdWords, simplifying campaign management between platforms.

Bing’s decision is intended to make it easier for advertisers currently using AdWords to import their existing campaigns into Bing. Their stated goal is to:

“…have complete compatibility with how ad campaigns are managed within Bing Ads and Google AdWords, simplifying campaign management between platforms.”

Concerns Over Unified Campaigns

Advertisers know that campaign conversions vary depending upon the device. If you are advertising an app for tablets, that would obviously convert better when targeted at tablet users. Mobile apps will convert highest on mobile devices. This is why advertisers want to retain control over bid prices by device.

As you can see from this table (latest available research), average cost per click is not the same on all devices:

Chart showing the average paid price per click in the U.S. on PC, tablet, mobile.

What 14 Advertisers Think About This Change

Some search marketers were hoping that Google would add bid modifiers – copying Bing – rather than the other way around. Others were using Bing specifically because they provided capability that Google AdWords did not. In the quotes below, advertisers indicate that tablets convert worse than 20% less.

According to data from RKG Digital Marketing Report Q1 2014, conversion rates vary by brand and type of tablet, with Windows tablets showing higher ROI than desktops:

Chat showing revenue per click by device (tablet / mobile) vs desktop

While bid modifiers are helpful, advertisers are displeased with Bing offering only -20% for tablets. In Bing Ads Device Targeting, Melissa Mackey wrote:

“I had the privilege of being on an “advanced notice” call about the changes that took place prior to the announcement. Several other industry leaders were also on the call. The feedback on the call was universally negative. Several people brought up concerns about the model, especially the fact that the tablet modifier starts at -20%. Why not -100% or at least -50%?

Bing claims that their research shows that the average advertiser sees results 20% worse on tablets. I’m sure that’s true. But how many of us are average advertisers? As the saying goes, averages lie – especially in this case.”

In Bing Ads Should Rethink Its Changes to Tablet Segmentation, Andy Taylor and Mark Ballard echoed this sentiment:

“Unfortunately, an average is just that and we find that over 60% of advertisers see tablet revenue per click running at less than 80% of desktop levels. What are these advertisers supposed to do?

This is like if Nike found out the average man’s shoe size was a 10.5, so limited their shoe production to sizes 10-20. Got small feet? Don’t worry, you’ll love all the extra room in your shoes.

If Bing were just to expand their modifier range to include pullbacks up to -50%, very few advertisers would be forced into inefficient spending on tablets.

In the long run, advertiser inefficiency in one segment of their paid search program will lead them to decrease their total investment. So, expanding the range of tablet pullbacks would pay off for everyone, including Bing.”

Andrew Garibay, Paid Search and Analytics Manager at Cronin and Company, commented in the above post:

“It was incredibly disappointing to read about this update. Like you mention – it is perfectly understandable if the Bing Ads team wants to align their offering to a competitor that currently holds 68% of desktop market share, but it’s another thing to build inefficiencies into a platform and try to sell it as “you wouldn’t miss it anyway, -20% is all you’ll need (according to our aggregated data).”

In Upcoming Changes to Device Targeting in Bing Ads, Michael Taggert commented:

“This is our biggest gripe with the Adwords platform. We read our Adwords reps the riot act weekly regarding this.

Tablets DO NOT convert, act the same way desktops/laptops do. They are a different device with a very different interface. The ROI for Tablets looks very different than Desktop for us. (sometimes better, sometimes worse) When the bids are bundled this way, us advertisers lose the ability to properly bid the different device types to achieve appropriate profit targets.

I implore you to rethink this policy change. If Google jumped off a bridge, would you?”

In Mackey’s post, Matt Graves commented:

“Not that it has a major effect on my day to day, but I got feel that this still sucks for Mobile App developers and mobile only business, that wanted a mobile only campaign and not display on my parents 5 year old PC “

For ppc management professionals, it is clear that more control trumps “complete compatibility” with AdWords. One reason for such a negative response is Bing’s prior stance reported by Search Engine Land:

“We do not believe bundling mobile, desktop and tablet advertising together in an opaque manner is in the best interests of our customers.”

More feedback from Bing’s customers:

“Please, PLEASE do NOT do this. We stopped advertising on Adwords and switched to Bing because google made this change. PLEASE allow the option to separate tablet and pc ads. they perform completely different!!” ~ Tyler

“I hope you do not take away the option to target only smartphones. My business is all about conversions. I need impressions to turn into calls. I found Bing’s option to target only smartphones especially effective in my ad campaign. That is one of the major reasons I left AdWords. Please let users have the option of ether bid adjustments or single device targeting (including smartphones). ” ~ LawyerSlim

“Please no!!

For folks who run separate websites for users of desktop computers and separate sites for users of tablets, this proposed change will be a disaster. Please make this an OPTION, not a compulsory merge.

It is increasingly important to provide content – and to dedicate entire websites – to users of different types of devices.

This change would be a huge backward step that ignores the developing nature of the market and the needs of your advertisers, rather than catering to them.” ~ Frank

“I would agree with the majority of what has been said here. PCs and tablets are not the same thing. Not even close. Why would you do this? If you are going to implement that change, then make it an option – not a requirement. If you make any change, a logical one would be to split out mobile into smartphone and all other older devices. Tablets and Pads belong in their own category. Not with Desktops. Please reconsider and as others have said, stop bandwagoning Google. Google has not made smart decisions and managing PPC there has become very convoluted. Be smarter. Do it differently. ” ~ Alisa

“I just moved away from Adwords and imported all my campaigns today. The only thing I see that you need to change is how you do day-parting. I have a campaign that runs from 8am to 9pm. Please fix that and leave the rest alone. Don’t let Google steer your ship please.” ~ Bill

“Yahoo / Bing should listen very carefully to its current client base prior to making any major changes to the system. I speak from experience when I say that Google has chased away a lot of their, then current, client base by making mass changes just because it would be better for the Google data systems – regardless of the impact upon their clients. The old adage of “build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door”, still holds true today; especially in the world of search. Google is turning its back on its clients, I hope Yahoo / Bing choose to go a different way. The world is waiting on that new and improved “mouse trap” – hopefully from Yahoo / Bing. ” ~ Anon

What This Change Means to Advertisers

Starting September 2014, you will no longer be able to target Tablet-only devices on Bing Ads. Your campaigns will run across all devices. You can not opt out of showing ads on tablets, but you can reduce the bids by using bid modifiers. Bing claims their research indicates searches on tablets are similar to those on PCs, they will permit a bid modifier of only up to -20% on tablets.

If your business is tablet specific, you may wish to take advantage by setting your bid modifier up to +300%. This will increase the bids you are willing to pay to target tablet devices.

Starting in early 2015, you will no longer be able to target Mobile-only devices on Bing Ads. Like tablets, you will be able to reduce bids using bid modifiers. Unlike tablets, you will be able to opt out of mobile ads.

Understanding Bid Modifiers

Matthew Umbro provides a comprehensive explanation of how bid modifiers work:

“Bid modifiers act as a percentage of bid amount at the device, location, and ad scheduling levels. For example, say your maximum keyword bid is $1 and the ads are set to only show on computers. If you want to pay, at most, $0.50 for your ads to show on mobile devices, then you would set a bid modifier of -50%.

Bid modifying is a powerful feature that greatly helps cut ineffective spending and bolsters already-high-performing keywords.”

Read Umbro’s post for strategies on how to increase ROI and reduce spend using bid modifiers. In your Bing dashboard, check the boxes to turn bid modifiers on and select the desired percentage:

Bid Modifier options in Bing


14 Actions to Take Prior to September

These suggestions will have your campaigns ready before Bing’s changes kick in and increase your sales and ROI:

  1. Review Bing’s Device Targeting FAQs.
  2. Make sure your site works well on tablets.
  3. Implement these 3 Successful Pay Per Click Strategies.
  4. Start moving your dedicated mobile campaigns to unified campaigns using bid modifiers.
  5. Use bid modifiers to change the allocation of ads being shown on mobile-only or tablet devices.
  6. Modify any API to include DeviceOSTargetBid to specify tablet and desktop together.
  7. Drive more sales and leads by adding Click to Call Campaigns.
  8. Consider an App experience for your Mobile users.
  9. Learn to use current results to modify bids by location or timeframe.
  10. Review our Top 5 Bid Management Tips
  11. Use Retargeting so you can salvage the “click” and get the visitor back.
  12. Want even more growth? Add Lookalike Targeting
  13. Get ready for mobile attribution to add accountability and cost savings to your mobile campaigns.
  14. Expand into more of the Top 25 mobile ad selling ecosystems.

Get started now to ensure your ads will still run after this change takes place. Add some of the suggestions above to increase your ROI and grow your business faster.