Bidding features on the Display Network

When you advertise on the Display Network, you can set your bids in different ways in your campaign. AdWords uses your bids in the ad auction to help you get the most value from your ads.

When your ad is eligible to show, AdWords checks to see if you'd like to use custom bids or the default bid, and if you have any bid adjustments.

  • Default bids: If you don’t have a custom bid for when your ad appears in a placement that matches your targeting, AdWords will use your ad group default bid.
  • Custom bids: If you've enabled custom bids for a single targeting method, for example, topics, AdWords will use that bid to when your ads show on websites related to that topic.
  • Bid adjustments: To gain more control over when and where your ad is shown, you can set bid adjustments at the campaign and ad group level.

Bidding features

Default bids

If you’re using manual bidding, you have already set a bid at the ad group level. When you don't have custom bids enabled (or your custom bids don’t apply to where your ad is shown), AdWords uses your default bid. Your default bid can be inherited from your ad group bid.

For example, if you've set an ad group bid of $1, and you haven't enabled custom bids, your Max. CPC column will show your ad group bid amount, and you won't be able to edit this bid from the statistics table.

Custom bids

If you want to set bids for an individual targeting method in your ad group, you can use custom bids. These are max. CPC (or max. CPM) bids that you set.

If you enable custom bids for placements, for example, you can set max. CPC bids on individual placements that you add. Once you enable custom bids for a targeting method, we'll use these bids on the Display Network.

Important: You can set custom bids on only one targeting method within each ad group.

Bid adjustments

Bid adjustments allow you to increase or decrease the bid amount we use to gain more control over when and where your ad appears.

Bid adjustments represent a percentage change in your bids. They're applied on top of the bids that AdWords uses to show your ad: your custom bids or the ad group bid, if no custom bids are set. Bid adjustments for any ad group-level targeting methods can be set from -90% to +900%.

You can set bid adjustments at the campaign level (for times, days, and locations), as well as at the ad group level for individual targeting methods, however you can’t have bid adjustments and custom bids for the same targeting method. Device bid adjustments are available both at the campaign and ad group levels.

If you make multiple adjustments in the same campaign, all of the bid adjustments will be multiplied together to determine how much your bid will increase or decrease. Learn more about setting campaign-level bid adjustments.

You can't set bid adjustments on keywords, regardless of your campaign type. You can set custom bids on keywords, or they can use your default bids.

How bidding options interact

When your ad is eligible to show on the Display Network, AdWords will first check for a custom bid. If you have a relevant custom bid set for a targeting method, this will be used in the ad auction. If you don’t have a relevant custom bid set, AdWords looks for the default bid. The ad group bid is used as the default bid.

Bid adjustments are applied after the initial bid is set. If one of your bid adjustments is relevant -- for example, someone is viewing content on a mobile device and you set up a mobile device bid adjustment -- then, this adjustment will be applied on top of the bid selected in the first step (custom or default).


Say that for your Display Network campaign, you set a custom bid of $1.00 for the "Soccer fans" affinity audience, a bid adjustment of +20% for the "Male" demographic, and a campaign-level location bid adjustment of +10% for people in Argentina. AdWords will use your custom bid of $1.00 any time your ad shows to people associated with the selected interest. If the ad also shows to someone in the "Male" demographic, we’ll add +20% of your custom bid to your max. CPC bid, to make it $1.20 when your ad shows to these people. And if those people are in Argentina, we’ll add +10% of your custom bid times your demographic bid adjustment, to make a max. CPC bid of $1.32.

Here's the math:
Custom bid: $1
Demographic bid adjustment: $1 x (+20%) = $1.20
Location bid adjustment: $1.20 x (+10%) = $1.32
Resulting bid for male soccer fan audience in Argentina: $1.32

How to enable ad group bids, custom bids, and bid adjustments for your ad groups

The "Bidding" menu where you can choose to set custom or default bids, as well as bid adjustments, for your ad group is available only to these campaign types:

  • "Display Network only"
  • "Search Network with Display Select - All features"
  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at
  2. Click the Campaigns tab.
  3. Select the campaign and ad group you'd like to edit.
  4. Click the Display Network tab. If you don't see this tab, check what campaign type you've selected when you created your campaign.
  5. Click the tab of the targeting method you'd like to set bids on. For example, click the Topics tab to set a bid on topics.
  6. If you've already added topics to your ad group, follow the next step. Otherwise, click the + Targeting button, add your targeting, and save.
  7. Once you're on the tab of the targeting method you want to set bids on -- in this case, the Topics tab --, click the "Bidding" menu above the statistics table to see the options available for your ad group.
  8. Select a bid option for your Display Network ad group:
    • Enable custom bids: Choose this option if you'd like AdWords to always use the topic bid for this ad group. Then, set a Max CPC or Max. CPM bid in the column.
    • Use default bids: Choose this option if you'd like the targeting method to inherit your ad group bid. You can't make any changes in the table after you've selected this bid.
    • Enable bid adjustments: Choose this option if you'd like to increase or decrease your chances of showing your ads for certain topics, for example.
  9. To add a bid adjustment, select the Enable bid adjustments option from the menu, and in the "Bid adj." column, specify the percent by which you'd like to increase or decrease your bid.

  10. Click the cell in the column of the rows you want to edit. If you've enabled custom bids, click the Max. CPC column and type your bid. For bid adjustments, click the “Bid adj” column. Enter your adjustment in the window and click Save.


To remove a bid adjustment, leave the bid adjustment field in step 9 or 10 above empty, and click Make changes.

Next steps

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