Google Enhanced Campaigns – The future of Adwords

Last month, Google announced plans to overhaul the face of Adwords with the launch of Google Enhanced Campaigns – but what will it mean for the industry?

Rollout has already begun for Advertisers who choose to opt-in – with all Adwords campaigns being automatically migrated by the end of June.

Google claims that the new set-up aims to facilitate campaign management across all platforms, in recognition of the ever-converging boundaries between how different devices are used.

Intent and context v platform

The focus for advertisers is now meant to be targeting a user’s intent and context, instead of targeting by platform, with all campaigns being set by default to target all devices. Bids are then adjusted within a campaign in order to target customers by location, time of day and mobility with the “Mobile Bid Multiplier”.

An advertiser can adjust bids to zero on keywords that they wish to opt-out of mobile, or vice versa. Ads can also be marked as “Mobile Preferred”, and served accordingly.

In theory this means that a retailer, for example, could target ads so that users who are searching on a mobile during opening hours would be served ads leading to a store locator, with the option of a “click-to-call” button being incorporated – whilst desktop users searching out of hours could be directed to the online store.

Compromised functionality

The big change here is how Google are detecting whether or not the platform being searched upon is mobile. Thus, a tablet would be judged to be mobile when on the move, and served mobile ads accordingly, but treated as if it were a desktop when at home.

Many experienced PPC advertisers feel aggrieved that the level of granularity and control they previously held with separate device campaigns has now been lost. It’s felt that although the integration of multi-platform campaign management may benefit novice SME advertisers, PPC veterans are being compromised on functionality for the sake of simplicity.

Although the distinction between tablets and desktops is decreasing, most search professionals do still see a difference in user behaviour between the two. Consequently, the bundling together of these devices poses another compromise for advertisers who would wish to optimise separately for each platform. In addition, history (and thus Quality Score) will be eradicated on any mobile campaigns that are migrated to Enhanced Campaigns.

Who will be the real winner of Enhanced Campaigns?

A more cynical view is that the only real beneficiary from the move will be Google themselves. It is well-reported that Google’s overall CPCs over the last few years have plateaued, due to the growing proportion of searches conducted on mobiles, and the consequent mitigative effect of mobile’s lower CPCs on the overall figures.

By making all keywords mobile by default, the auction is bound to become more crowded, with increased competition leading to higher CPCs. There may well also be issues with regards to the impact upon third party Bid Management and Tracking suppliers, who may not be geared up for the change. Google-owned DoubleClick is, predictably, ready to go.

There’s no going back

Google aims to sweeten the deal by promising a few added extras:

Advanced conversion reporting will now allow for tracking of further conversion points (such as digital downloads or calls that last over a specified time period), across all devices. Data on cross-device attribution will also be available.

Some long awaited improvements to ad-extensions are also being brought out, including the facility to report upon and compare each site-link, the ability to update a site-link without resetting its history and being able to designate links that are mobile preferred.

One last thing to remember, once you’ve made the shift – there’s no going back, so it may be wise to tread carefully and wait to see how Google attempts to refine the offering before you make the leap.

Prachi Dwivedi, search executive, Rippleffect

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