Unified Device Targeting in Bing Ads: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Next Month’s Changes

In June, we announced a set of changes to how device targeting will work in Bing Ads. The first of these changes will occur in September when desktops, laptops and tablets will be combined into a single device target. A direct consequence of this change is that any campaigns that only target desktops and laptops today will additionally begin targeting tablets and similarly, any campaigns that only target tablets will also target desktops and laptops.

As mentioned earlier, to ensure you, our advertisers, have the flexibility to manage the performance differences between tablets and desktops & laptops when this change is made in September, the allowable bid modifier on tablet devices will range from +300% to -20%. There will be no bid modifier on desktops and laptops.

Over the past few months, we’ve received a number of questions about this change and have thus composed this post to address the most frequently asked questions we’ve received.

Q: What is the best way to prepare for the combination of tablets, desktops and laptops as a single device target?

A: The first step is to ensure that if you have campaigns that are targeted to PCs and laptops that your sites are ready to handle tablet traffic and vice versa. You can take advantage of the {device} query parameter to serve different landing pages based on the searcher’s device type.

Secondly, if you have dedicated campaigns for each device type, it is recommended that you review and merge them into a single campaign that uses bid adjustments (also known as bid modifiers) to indicate how much you want to bid on each device type.

Q: How will this change impact the quality score and ranking of ads?

A: Quality score is based on the historical performance of an ad against a particular keyword. With this change, ads that were only showing for desktops and laptops or only for tablets may face increased competition from more participants in the auction. Any increases or decreases in quality score that occur following this change will be due to the performance of your ads against the specific keywords in this new combined marketplace.

Q: This change has the potential to create duplicate campaigns as previously separate tablet-only and desktop & laptop only targeted campaigns each get the other device type added as targets.  Will the campaigns end up competing with each other?

A: It is quite possible that you will end up in a situation where you have multiple bids for the same keyword across campaigns if you are not proactive about preparing your campaigns for this change. In this situation, your ads will compete against each other as the keyword with the best combination of bid and ad quality will be chosen to participate in the auction. Our recommendation is that you review all campaigns that target tablets separately from desktops and laptops, and mark them as targeting both of those options. If there are duplicates, we recommend choosing your better performing campaign as the primary and eliminating the redundant one.

Q: How will applying bid modifiers when targeting tablets devices impact other bid modifiers such as location-based bid modifiers?   

A: The following is excerpted from our documentation on How to target my customers by adjusting my bids.

If more than one of your target criterion is met and your ad is clicked, you pay for each of the bid adjustments that match (but not for those that don't match). For example, let's say you have set up the following bids and targeting:

  • Keyword bid = $3.00
  • Target location = Chicago, Bid adjustment = Bid + 20%
  • Target days = Saturday, Bid adjustment = Bid + 10%
  • Target device = Tablet, Bid adjustment = Bid - 20%

Given the above data, the potential maximum amount for your bid using the new method is as follows:

Q: On what date will this change occur in September?

A: The changes will roll out over three weeks starting in the 3rd week of September (the week starting September 15th). During this time the Bing Ads platform will introduce a single device target for desktops, laptops and tablets. Advertisers will see the change applied to their account when they sign in to the Bing Ads web interface. Once migrated, they will see a single device target for desktops, laptops and tablets in campaign and ad group settings. All customers should have this experience by October 3rd at the latest.

Q: What will be the impact of the device targeting changes to API users?

A: We have published an updated post on the Bing Ads API blog which details how users of the Bing Ads API should prepare for this change. A key thing to note is that after the change has been applied to an account, any attempts to create a device target of tablet for a campaign or ad group via the API will automatically have desktops & laptops added by the Bing Ads platform and vice versa.

Although this change will not result in a fatal error for API users, it is strongly recommended that you start treating tablets, desktops and laptops as a single device target in your applications and tools that interact with Bing Ads to prevent confusion once the change rolls out.

Q: What else should I do to prepare?

A: Here are some additional best practices to consider. Instead of focusing on just migrating existing campaigns, take the opportunity to optimize and revitalize your Bing Ads campaigns.

  • Review your tablet landing page or website: Fix usability problems that may keep your tablet audience from taking action.
  • Fix things that are keeping your ads from serving:
    • Budget. Make sure that you have enough budget to cover additional volume from tablet searchers. Use Bing Ads Intelligence or Campaign Tools to estimate how much additional volume to expect from tablets. Remember that if a campaign runs out of budget, your ads won’t be shown.
    • Bids. Experiment with bid modifiers, and make sure your bids aren’t too low. Using bid suggestions or accessing real bid data in Bing Ads Intelligence can help you set more competitive bids. Post-migration, be sure to review your bids and modify as needed.
    • Keywords.  Use Bing Ads Intelligence to identify opportunities to expand your keywords to cover tablet scenarios. Add or refine negative keywords to help capture more qualified traffic.  Fix disapproved keywords. Remove duplicate and poorly performing terms.
    • Targeting. Review your targeting options to ensure you’re targeting the locations, days, time of week, ages, genders and other factors that best describe your ideal customer.

Please click here for additional FAQs regarding Unified Device Targeting.

Dare Obasanjo

Group Program Manager, Bing Ads Applications and Developer Platform


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