Google has made many sweeping changes to how Google Adwords works since it was launched in 2000. But the introduction of “enhanced campaigns” is one of the largest and most significant changes to the platform we have seen in a number of years.
Essentially, enhanced campaigns aim to unify PPC ads for mobile devices and traditional computers rather than allowing advanced marketers to effectively handle them as separate campaigns. They also add new levers for adjusting base bids for keywords according to device, geographical location and time of day.
Whether you handle Adwords PPC advertising in-house or outsource it to an agency, you need to be looking at exactly what this sea-change will mean for your business so that you can manage the change smoothly and efficiently.
Let’s start off with some background. The Web has changed dramatically since Google introduced AdWords more than a decade ago. With the rise of tablets and smartphones, an increasing proportion of search engine and general Web traffic today comes from mobile devices, and any day now the tipping point will be reached. As Google notes: “There are many more digital screens and devices to come, with the lines between them continuing to blur. For example, as devices converge, consumer behaviours on tablets and desktops are becoming very similar.”
That also means that context – time of day and geographical location – is becoming more and more important in how, why, where and when users access Web content. With enhanced campaigns, Google is acknowledging that users live in a multiscreen world and is thereby creating smarter ways for advertisers to target their ads at their audience.
In the past, AdWords was device-centric by opt in opt out logic. This inflexibility of the bidding system meant that if you wanted to take advantage of lower CPC for mobile you were forced to create multiple campaigns and if you wanted to target different geographies and devices this multiplied the campaigns considerably. That made it complex to create and maintain effectively targeted PPC campaigns for a multiscreen world.
How it works
Now, with enhanced campaigns, Google is making it easier to manage bids to mobile devices in the same campaign that now will run across devices. You can submit new ads that are mobile-preferred and set mobile bid adjustments all within the same campaign or further down on ad-group level. Bids for mobile devices can be easily managed in the same campaign with bids that can be more or less than the standard keyword bid.
What’s more, you have the ability to more easily adjust bids based on geo-targeting and time parting so that you can spend less for users far from your targeted locations and more closer to them, as well as adjust your keyword bids for various times of the day.
This is all good stuff that makes it easier for marketers to get smarter about their targeting in their campaigns as well as track and report on ROI more easily. But there is also a major downside to the change that marketers should be aware of.
This is as follows: while you can force yourself out of an auction on a keyword for a mobile device, it is not possible to opt out of targeting to laptops and desktops. For South African brands, this may demand new thinking and new ways of doing things. Many of them have .mobi domains for mobile devices and .co.za domains for desktops – is it still going to be viable to try to silo users in this manner?
Time to prepare
On balance, I am excited about the innovation enhanced campaigns brought to the market and the massive benefit in account management we are experiencing from it. By being smarter with targeting users by location, time of day and device, there are opportunities for brands to get much better results and more conversions from PPC ads targeted at mobile devices.
Google sums it up like this: “Enhanced campaigns help you reach people with the right ads, based on their context like location, time of day and device type, across all devices without having to set up and manage several separate campaigns.”
There are some challenges marketers need to think about, but Google is set on forcing advertisers onto enhanced campaigns over the next few weeks.
Marketers should be thinking about, experimenting and paying attention to enhanced campaigns, now so that they will be ready for the switch and are also aware that this is being forced.
Michael Walker is search & analytics director at Acceleration Media