When Google announced Expanded Text Ads in May, they also previewed forthcoming changes for mobile bid modifiers.

Mobile doesn’t always refer to glowing phones. Back in 2005, Google kicked off its Maps project, and the most important technology was (really) mobile.

We’re happy to announce that Kenshoo is the first marketing platform to bring FULL bid modifier support to marketers! Over 50 Kenshoo clients are now utilizing these capabilities to get the benefits of user context into their Search campaigns.

What this means, and why it matters, will require a look back at innovations introduced by Google and Kenshoo…especially two innovations normally overlooked by search marketers!

The (4 Wheel Drive) Mobile Revolution

Mobile doesn’t always refer to glowing phones. Back in 2005, Google kicked off its Maps project, and the most important technology was (really) mobile.

To build up reliable street-level information, Google designed a variety of car sensors that automated the interpretation of captured video. This sensor array provided a rich set of context signals for interpreting information.


Google then added one more crucial innovation: a computer running an algorithmic, learning, predictive, performance monitor on top of the context signals.

This software monitor read the sensors to make sophisticated decisions on how to drive the car to get the best mapping information, and was the precursor for the intensive research that has since gone into the self-driving car projects.


SEM: The Pain We Suffered

This was great for the Google Maps.

But even in 2012, search marketers didn’t have a unified set of context signals to help us improve our campaigns, let alone a performance monitor.

We knew that searches from mobile browsers didn’t have the same responses as searches launched from a desktop. We knew that product searches from rural Illinois did not have the same responses as those from urban San Francisco.

So SEM marketers suffered, and we all created sets of campaigns with separate targeting and differing bid levels to tune performance manually across all the relevant contexts. And keeping these “context-oriented” campaigns aligned, and updating bids holistically across the keyword pools was a major challenge and time sync.

Couldn’t Google park their cars for a little while and throw us search marketers a bone?

A Context Net for Search

In 2013, Google did.

SEM practitioners now had the tools to receive a rich array of search context signals like geo, time of day, audience, and more. We could manage one campaign, with clear base-level bids, and alter those bids with multipliers triggered from contextual search signals. We were now running campaigns with a rich context, just like those cars!

Was the current search coming in from a mobile phone? We’d get the signal and trigger an adjustment to the base bid by, say, 150% so we can win the mobile auction and make an impression.

Was the search run from from rural Indiana? We’d get that signal and trigger a reduction by 20% due to decreased competition.

And because all of these adjustments modified a single base value managed in a single campaign, it was more efficient for us to manage SEM performance in a single place.

The Interdependency of Bid Adjustments

Well, it was an easier structure, but it still wasn’t easy!

The problem was that sometimes searches would come in both on a) mobile phones AND in b) rural Illinois, and then the marketer wondered if raising the bid by 150% and then lowering that by 20% was the right thing to do at all. How should simultaneous bid adjustments really react? When multiplied together and optimizing, was it better to adjust one bid, or another one, or just the base bid?

So bid-modifier stacking was a problem for SEM marketers optimizing on geo, time of day, audience, and device signals. Managing campaigns with a complex array of independent modifiers was painful.

This was certainly no self-driving car…in fact, we could say that search marketers were “distracted drivers” managing all of these context signals by hand, instead of focusing on actual marketing and messaging for their customers.

Kenshoo: The Performance Monitor for Search

Kenshoo has always been a market leader in optimizing against all available search signals to drive superior performance. Last year, we were the first to announce support for the new geo, audience, and time-of-day/week adjustments.

And at the beginning of this September, Kenshoo was the 1st in market to roll out automated bidding support for the new device modifiers: desktop, tablet, and mobile.

But what really drives a completely differentiated experience for our clients is the addition of our optimization, which acts as an always-running, always-optimizing performance monitor. Some of our clients still love to manage all of these context signals by hand, but more and more, our clients are enjoying the performance that a highly-tuned set of learning algorithms provide in automatically optimizing the modifiers.

With Kenshoo, we’ve dramatically scaled the platform so that our bid optimizations work over the entire search context.

Every keyword, ad group or campaign.

Every portfolio optimization.

Every base bid, every bid multiplier, and every combination of the two, or three, or four.

This is the true marketing differentiator between driving a car with more bells and whistles versus having the car drive you to your destination faster and safer than ever before.

So while the auto makers struggle to revolutionize our driving experience, you, the search marketer, can lean back and know that you’re already living and driving in the future with the most sophisticated, agile and scalable marketing platform, Kenshoo Search.