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AdWords Mobile Bid Adjustment - How to Optimize for Success?

Desktop computers are the primary focus for many advertisers promoting their businesses online. But with the daily increase in mobile phone users, and the changing ways people interact and engage though their smartphones, this primary focus has gradually shifted to the device in your pocket. 


Today we are in a multi-screen world, and mobile is playing a decisive role in customers' purchase journeys like never before. According to Google, over 54% of smartphone users use their smartphones to research or purchase products. Yes, that's more than a half!


Now the question is - Are you making the most of this shifting user behavior?


It's not too late. Let's talk about how we can use the AdWords mobile bid adjustment feature to increase or decrease bids on mobile devices according to the profitability of clicks driven from different devices. 


How can you decide if clicks from mobile devices are worth more or less for your business?


The answer lies in your conversion data. Refer to your AdWords conversion data to find out if mobile is driving more or less value for you.  If you find that you are getting a higher conversion rate from mobile devices, jump in to capitalize on mobile success by increasing your bids on mobile. If your data shows the opposite, don't hesitate to decrease your mobile bids.


Yes, it's about optimizing so that you are getting the most profitable clicks at the lowest possible cost. If ads on mobile devices are performing better or worse for another advertiser, it does not necessarily mean that you will have the same results. Online advertising success depends of several important aspects, including your business, target locations, website, keywords, ad copies, ad formats, budget constraints, competition, seasonal/weather trends, etc. These all need to be aligned in order to get those consistent "wow!" moments.


Hence, it's wise to look into your own data to formulate your winning bid adjustment strategy. But how?


Compare your est. total conv. rates on mobile devices versus desktops.


If you already know how to find and compare the estimated total conversion rate, you can jump to the next section. Smiley Happy


Go to the "Campaigns" menu from the top navigation in the AdWords interface. Select a timeframe of more than a month, maybe 60 days or even 90 days, if possible. Make sure the date range you have selected has enough conversions (at least 30 or more). 


Now, go to the "Ad Groups" tab and "Segment" data by "Device." Make sure you have the "Estimated Total Conversion Rate" column enabled. You can enable this by going to Columns > Modify Columns > Conversions > and add "Est. Total Con. Rate" and hitting "Apply." 


Now, note your "Est. Total Con. Rates" on Mobile Devices and Desktop Devices separately


Decide on the winning Mobile Bid Adjustment percentage


Once you have noted the conversion rates from both device types, apply the following formula:


Mobile bid = (mobile conversion rate / desktop conversion rate) - 1


This will be the percentage you should apply as the campaign Mobile Bid Adjustment. 


Let's take a real example from one of the AdWords accounts I manage to make it even easier to understand:




We will need to note those two highlighted data points from the table above.


  • Computer Conversion Rate = 14.35%
  • Mobile Conversion Rate = 16.16%

Now, let's apply the formula as stated above.


Mobile Bid Adjustment = (16.16/14.35) -1 = 0.81


So, the optimal Mobile Bid Adjustment should be +81%. 


If you refer to the image shown above, you can see the reason for this increase in the Mobile Bid Adjustment. Mobile is not only driving more conversions, but also has a cost per click that is almost 5 times less than on desktop, and the cost per conversion is about 6 times less than for desktop conversions. 


This is why a Mobile Bid Adjustment of around 80% will accelerate the campaign performance and improve the overall ROI of the business. 


Which brings me to the conclusion of this article: do not rely on the default device bid settings, since AdWords does not automatically use any modifiers to increase or decrease your bid. Look into your conversion data, analyze it properly based on the formula above, and do the adjustments to get the most out of your campaigns. 


Keep in mind that the formula discussed above does not indicate any hard and fast rule. Rather, it is just to find an initial estimate for your Mobile Bid Adjustment. You can adjust it according to your campaign's current performance and future strategies. 


Have questions for me? Please feel free to post them below. I would love to engage. 


Ratan Jha


about Ratan Jha

A digital marketing strategist and consultant with 9+ years of experience. I help businesses make their marketing strategies more rewarding. Co-Founder - Splashsys Webtech. Winner of DigiGurus - a competition among Indian Google Partners.

Jithin C
July 2015

Congrats for the cool CTR. Smiley Happy


What actually is the significance of the formula you used? is it suggested by Google or is it proven by testing?


Again why you choose to have the est.conversion data instead of actual conversions or converted clicks? (Well, I prefer converted clicks than conversios).


Thanks for the insights..

Ratan-Jha Top Contributor
July 2015

Thanks Jithin. To your queries - 


The significance of this formula is to measure the comparative click worth derived from mobile and desktop devices for the campaign in question. It gives an idea  about initial percentage for device modifier. In the absence of it, you will be simply testing any random percentage. Hence, it gives a great starting ground. And yes, it is devised by Google itself, not me Smiley Happy . I have tested with it several accounts and campaigns and have found very useful. 


Now to your next question - why estimated total conversion?


Estimated Total Conversions include Cross Device Conversions as well, hence it gives more precise comparative data about the significance of the clicks from mobile and desktop. 


To your final question, converted click does not serve the purpose aptly here. Why? The intent is to measure the comparative impact of device types on the conversion goal, not the conversion itself. 



Ratan Jha

August 2015

Great tips Ratan. I have been following you for long. Always awesome. 





Michael L
September 2016

Isn't the Math off here? Is should be +12% not +81%.


Please carlify:


You're saying to increase mobile bid by the percentage that the Mobile conversion rate is greater than the desktop conversion rate so: 16.16%/14.35%=112.61% OR 12.61% MORE.