Many moons ago, when phones with keypads roamed the earth and Britney Spears was having hits, it used to be the case that if you bid for a keyword, that was pretty much the bid you would be using at all times and in all circumstances. There were basically no means to bid up or down on this “Max CPC” bid based on context.
Times have somewhat changed now and the “Max CPC” number is no longer relevant if you fully exploit the options open to you.
Here are all the ways you can alter the basic keyword bid in Adwords (there are actually more ways in Bing) and I’ve linked to the relevant AdWords support page to take you on the path of how you use them:
- You can bid more or less (or zero) for mobile devices except Tablets
- You can bid more or less for different times of day and different days of the week
- You can bid more or less for certain locations – from Country level down to Zip Code or proximity to a place
- You can bid more or less for the audience set to which a user belongs
- In addition, for Display, you can bid up or down on the age and/or gender of the user
So this represents up to 5 simultaneous optional adjustments to any given keyword or placement bid, which would render the final cost not only different for virtually every individual user (as per the standard Google every-search-is-an-auction algorithm) but also very different from the starting bid.
There hasn’t been a bidding platform yet built that handles all of these factors completely automatically (partly because there is a certain amount of judgement required for some of them) so this complexity is unavoidable if you want to get an edge on your competition.
Dealing with these moving parts, understanding the cause and effect, and knowing when to use and not to use them (and at what level of granularity) is just part of why PPC experts exist and why good ones are worth their weight in gold.
The complexity now present in bids is starting to come into messaging, with myriad ad types and extensions coming through, many of which you’re forced to take advantage of because the search engines tend to give you a CPC discount (based on predicted CTR improvements).
It’s indicative of where PPC is going and staying on top of these elements plus finding the right path through it all for each client is an endlessly exciting endeavor.
What’s your opinion on the complexity I’ve described – is it getting too much or is it providing new optimization opportunities you value?
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