About bidding features in Display campaigns

When you advertise with Display Campaigns, you can set your bids in different ways in your campaign. Google Ads uses your bids in the ad auction to help you get the most value from your ads.

When your ad is eligible to show, Google Ads 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, Google Ads will use your ad group default bid.
  • Custom bids: If you've enabled custom bids for a single targeting method, for example, topics, Google Ads will use that bid 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.

This article explains the differences between the bidding features available on the Display campaigns and how Google Ads chooses which bidding option to use with your ads.

How bidding features work

Default bids

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

For example, if you've set an ad group bid of $1 USD, and you haven't enabled custom bids, your ”Default 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. vCPM) 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. When 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 Google Ads 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), and 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 bid adjustments

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

Smart pricing

If you’re using Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC) with manual bidding, smart pricing may adjust your cost-per-click (CPC) bids for Display campaigns or Search campaigns with Display Expansion. This saves you time and work by estimating the value of clicks and adjusting bids automatically, improving performance towards your goals.

With smart pricing, if Google Ads data shows that a click from a web page is less likely to turn into an actionable business result (such as an online sale, registration, phone call, or newsletter sign-up), Google Ads may reduce the bid for that web page. Many factors are taken into account, such as which keyword lists or concepts triggered the ad, and the type of web page or app on which the ad was served.

How Google Ads determines bidding options for your ad

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

Bid adjustments are applied after you set the initial bid. 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).

In addition to setting bid adjustments across your campaign, you can also set them for mobile devices and targeting methods like topics or placements in an ad group. These adjustments will be multiplied by your default or custom bid and by any bid adjustments you've set for your entire campaign.


Say that for your Display campaign, you set a custom bid of $1 USD 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. Google Ads will use your custom bid of $1 USD 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 USD 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 USD.

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

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

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