About bidding features on the Display Network

When you advertise on the Display Network, 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 Network 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, 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 that 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), as well as at the ad group level for individual targeting methods and top content. 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.

Example

For example, say you set a custom bid of £2.00 on a placement that is also measured as Top content. You've also set a Top content bid adjustment of 10%. Google Ads will use your placement custom bid first of £2.00 and multiply it by your Top content bid adjustment, which comes out to £0.20. Your final bid will be your custom bid plus your bid adjustment amount, or £2.20. Learn more about how Google Ads determines bidding options for your ad.

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 the keywords can use your default bids.

Customised URLs

  • In the previous AdWords experience, if you're using automated bidding, you can specify unique landing page URLs for a targeting method in your ad group. You can set custom URLs on only one targeting method within each ad group. If you enable custom URLs for placements, for example, you can set custom URLs on individual placements that you add. When you enable custom URLs for a targeting method, we'll use those landing page URLs for your ads when they appear on the Display Network.
  • In the new Google Ads experience, you can only set custom landing page URLs for keywords.

Determine which Google Ads experience you're using.

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, top content and targeting methods like topics or placements in an ad group. These adjustments will be multiplied by your default or custom bid, and also by any bid adjustments that you've set for your entire campaign.

Example

Say that for your Display Network campaign, you set a custom bid of £1.00 for the "Football fans" affinity audience, a bid adjustment of +20% for the "Male" demographic, and a campaign-level location bid adjustment of +10% for people in Wales. Google Ads 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 Wales, 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 maths:
Custom bid: £1
Demographic bid adjustment: £1 x (+20%) = £1.20
Location bid adjustment: £1.20 x (+10%) = £1.32
Resulting bid for male football fan audience in Wales: £1.32

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

Choose the Google Ads experience that you're using. Learn more

 

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