Bid Boosting On Bing: Discover The Untapped Value

Are you using bid modifiers in your Bing Ads campaigns? Columnist John Cosley explains what bid modifiers are and how bid boosting works.

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Reaching the right audience at the right price is the goal for every advertiser, but that goal can be frustratingly elusive. Fortunately, there’s a powerful tool at your disposal to do just that: bid modifiers.

Bid modifiers provide you additional control to ensure your ads are shown to the customers you care about most — and not shown to those you care about least — while helping you optimally manage to your campaign goals.

How Does Bid Boosting Work?

Bid modifiers allow you to change keyword bids based on a number of parameters, helping to ensure your ad wins the auction and appears on the search results page. They can be applied to a searcher’s geographic location, the day and time of their search or the device they are searching from. Bid modifiers also allow you to bid on audiences using remarketing.

These modifiers are applied in real time during the auction when a Bing user’s search triggers your paid search ad, and they alter your base keyword bid.

For example, let’s say you own a boutique called Van Ness Dress that designs custom-fit dresses and want to improve the odds of showing your ads to customers who live in the city of San Francisco. Your bid on the keyword “dresses” is $1.00. You add a 20 percent incremental bid for people who live in San Francisco. Now, when a search user in the targeted city searches for “shoes,” your bid is $1.20, and it’s more likely to be a winning bid that gets your ads displayed.

If a particular search user matches against multiple bid adjustments, the adjustments are combined using addition. Using the Van Ness Dress example, if we added another bid boost of 10 percent for users searching on Wednesdays, the potential maximum bid amounts would look like this:

Lives in San Francisco Searching on Wednesday Max bid
Search User #1 (Add .20) (Add .10) $1.30
Search User #2 (Add .10) $1.10
Search User #3 $1.00


Bid boosting is not just about raising bids; it can be equally effective at helping you manage the return on your ad spend by boosting down (i.e., below zero) against various parameters.

Advertisers may find that certain demographics, devices, audiences or locations do not convert as effectively or do not spend as much when they do convert. In these cases, adding a negative bid boost reduces the chances an ad will show, but each click will be at a reduced cost, allowing an advertiser to have further control over campaign performance.

Bid Boosting Drives Advertising Success

Bid boosting not only allows advertisers to be more (or less) competitive during the auction process, but advertisers that adopt bid boosting in ways that align to their campaign goals see increases in campaign performance across both click-through and conversion rates. There are four important areas where you can apply bid boosting to help you achieve better performance:

1. Boost By Demographics

Advertisers who are boosting bids on Age and Gender characteristics are seeing the greatest click-through rate (CTR) performance gains, according to internal data here at Microsoft. In fact, advertisers using bid boosting based on gender-related demographic information are seeing normalized CTR rates averaging 125 percent higher than their non-bid-boosted counterparts. However, less than two percent of campaigns are utilizing gender-based bid boosting, so the opportunity is wide open.

Advertisers using age-related bid boosting are seeing normalized CTR rate boosts an average of 133 percent over non-boosted rates. But like gender, we’re seeing that less than two percent of Bing Ads campaigns have bid boosts implemented on age-related demographics.

Advertisers using bid boosting for demographics are seeing impressive improvements in conversion rates. In the retail segment, for example, advertisers see 60 percent and 120 percent higher conversion rates for age and gender bid-boosted clicks, respectively.

At Bing, we’ve made significant improvements in our coverage of targetable users based on age and gender — which has more than doubled — helping you reach more customers who are more receptive to your message.

Bid adjustment for demographic targets can range from -90 percent to +900 percent.

Example Scenario: Expanding on my example above, Van Ness Dress may decide that it wants to bid boost ads targeting female searchers, as they are the most likely to convert to a purchase, either via a phone call or through a store visit. Knowing their average conversion rate, margin on those sales, and CPC allows them to know how much they can bid boost and still maintain a positive return on investment.

2. Boost By Location

Bid boosts can also be applied based on geographic location, working in conjunction with geotargeting (country/state/metro) and radius targeting (ZIP code, for example). Using advanced location options, advertisers can be more selective on location intent, identifying customers searching for/viewing pages about their targeted location or targeting ads to customers physically in those locations.

Bid boosting by location is far and away the most popular form of bid boosting. Advertisers using this tactic to reach customers in the most highly desired locations are seeing normalized CTR gains on the average of 40 percent over non-boosted rates.

Bid adjustments for location targets can range from -90 percent to +900 percent.

Example Scenario: In this case, our hypothetical Van Ness Dress decides to implement two bid boosting strategies similar to demographic bidding. First, they bid boost up for searchers located in San Francisco, knowing their store proximity increases the likelihood to call or visit. However, residents in the Bay Area also hold value in that people will often come into the city over the weekend for shopping and entertainment. In this case, they may decide to bid boost down a small amount (say, for example, -20 percent), knowing Bay Area searchers still convert, but their purchases tend to be smaller, giving them a lower ROI.

3. Boost By Device

While not quite as popular as location targeting, a substantial (and growing) number of advertisers are taking advantage of bid boosting across device types, including PC/tablet and mobile. And those advertisers are seeing normalized CTR gains averaging 32 percent over non-boosted rates.

Tablet bid adjustments can range from -20 percent to +300 percent of the desktop bid, while mobile bid adjustments can range from -100 percent (to exclude smartphone traffic) to +300 percent.

Example Scenario: Mobile offers some significant opportunities for advertisers, and our friends at Van Ness Dress know this. Because they value store visits and calls very highly — and because mobile searchers offer them the unique opportunity to get in front of customers who are ready to take action now — they add a small bid boost to searchers on mobile devices.

4. Boost By Audience

Finally, advertisers are able to apply bid boosters against custom audiences. In this case, advertisers first must deploy tracking code on their site (called Universal Event Tagging on Bing Ads), create a remarketing list and make at least one association to an ad group. Once this is complete, advertisers can utilize bid boosting when remarketing to custom audiences, which could include visitors who have taken some sort of action on an advertisers’ site.

Bid adjustments for location targets can range from -90 percent to + 900 percent.

Example Scenario: Van Ness Dress knows that custom-fit dresses are not an impulse purchase and that customers shop around before making a decision. Therefore, being able to remarket to people who have visited their site is imperative to capturing that final conversion opportunity. With appropriate tagging, Van Ness Dress boosts bids significantly for searchers who have visited their website.

Advertiser Takeaway

When bid boosting is thoughtfully applied to campaigns, advertisers experience significant CTR improvements — especially in categories where their competitors aren’t using it. By increasing or decreasing your bid boost when a user (or their search) meets specified parameters, you can increase the likelihood that your ads will be shown — and likely improve their positions. In addition, you may find that a combined approach to bid boosting will allow you to realize the best performance gains.

Most important, though, you’ll increase your chances of reaching the audiences you care about most at the price that is right for you, and you’ll reduce waste by avoiding consumers who don’t fall within your target.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for Search Engine Land and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the search community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

John Cosley
John Cosley is responsible for Microsoft Search Advertising’s global brand marketing and communications activities, which includes Bing Ads. He has over 15 years of digital marketing experience across a diverse set of industries, including Entertainment, Technology/Software, Advertising, and Creative Services. John has been overseeing search advertising campaigns for over 10 years.

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