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Bing Ads Should Rethink Its Changes to Tablet Segmentation

Bing Ads announced yesterday that, following in Google’s footsteps, desktop and tablet devices will be targeted together in Bing’s take on the Enhanced Campaign model. This comes after Bing initially criticized Google for failing to give advertisers more control over device targeting and bidding under Enhanced Campaigns.

In an effort to retain some tablet-specific functionality, Bing Ads will still allow advertisers to adjust bids on tablets via bid modifiers. However, these modifiers will be restricted to values between -20% and +300% of the desktop base bid.

The change is being made, according to Bing, in order to simplify the importation of campaigns from AdWords to Bing, as well as to base their campaign model off of studies that show only minor differences in value between the two devices.

We are sympathetic to the first point, as greater alignment between AdWords and Bing Ads is often very helpful, even for sophisticated advertisers, but this is an area where any large advertiser ought to be able to take the difference between platforms in stride. To the second point, Bing Ads may want to take a deeper dive into the data.

Bing Ads Tablet Modifiers Will Be Insufficient for Many

We would like to think that RKG’s Digital Marketing Reports were among the studies Bing surveyed before making this decision, since there’s still really not a lot of good data on the question of performance differences across devices.

In Q1, we found that tablet revenue per click was 84% that of desktop computers on average. Thus, the -20% to +300% tablet modifier range Bing will provide covers the average industry difference in value and will allow app developers and other tablet-centric advertisers to bid up tablet traffic aggressively. So, no big deal, right?

 rkg-dmr-q1-2014-paid-search-device-type-revenue-per-click

Unfortunately, an average is just that and we find that over 60% of advertisers see tablet revenue per click running at less than 80% of desktop levels. What are these advertisers supposed to do?

This is like if Nike found out the average man’s shoe size was a 10.5, so limited their shoe production to sizes 10-20. Got small feet? Don’t worry, you’ll love all the extra room in your shoes.

If Bing were just to expand their modifier range to include pullbacks up to -50%, very few advertisers would be forced into inefficient spending on tablets.

In the long run, advertiser inefficiency in one segment of their paid search program will lead them to decrease their total investment. So, expanding the range of tablet pullbacks would pay off for everyone, including Bing.

Conclusion

While it’s nice that Bing Ads will still allow advertisers the ability to modify bids for tablet traffic, the restrictions placed on the magnitude of pullbacks makes these modifiers insufficient for many, if not most advertisers.

The value of tablets and desktops is not the same, and prohibiting advertisers from bidding them separately only leads to lower base bids on the whole. RKG’s Mark Ballard published an SEL column just last week pondering whether or not the fact that Bing currently allows for tablet-specific targeting might influence Google to do the same, a change we would welcome.

We’re still hoping that Google will change its tune and Bing still has the opportunity to lead the way.

  • Andy Taylor
    Andy Taylor is a Senior Research Analyst at RKG.
  • Mark Ballard
    Mark Ballard is Director of Research at RKG.
  • Comments
    One Response to “Bing Ads Should Rethink Its Changes to Tablet Segmentation”
    1. Andrew Garibay says:

      It was incredibly disappointing to read about this update. Like you mention – it is perfectly understandable if the Bing Ads team wants to align their offering to a competitor that currently holds 68% of desktop market share, but it’s another thing to build inefficiencies into a platform and try to sell it as “you wouldn’t miss it anyway, -20% is all you’ll need (according to our aggregated data).”

      It seems like a short-sighted way of increasing revenue in the short-term while extending an olive branch that’s more appealing than Google’s offering, but still irrationally limiting an advertisers capacity to take advantage of the nuance between devices.

      Instead of taking the high road with this one, they’re settling somewhere in the middle…

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