Enhanced campaigns from Google – our verdict

Adwords1-300x200Google recently announced the launch of ‘Enhanced Campaigns’ – a change that is being phased in over the next six months across Google Adwords accounts.

The change means all new campaigns in Google Adwords will be able to target different devices in different locations at different times with different bids, from the same campaign.

Google’s theory for introducing Enhanced Campaigns is sound; it is all about being able to deliver the right ad to the right person at the right time.

This would mean that a user who is on a mobile near a restaurant and is searching for places to eat will be able to see a tailored ad in her mobile search results. If they use mobile search in the evening, the ad may include a different ad creative with a map, a phone number and importantly for this more qualified lead an advertiser will be able to bid higher. Whereas someone who makes the same search in the morning on a desktop and is 30 miles from the restaurant may include different ad extensions with site links and creative focused on deals for making a reservation for the future and a lower keyword bid or position on the landscape.

This is a single example but the principle behind this is that an advertiser can change time scheduling of an ad, by location and device in a single campaign. Keyword bids on the Google Adwords landscape can be changed by these three elements and importantly an advertiser can also schedule different ad extensions such as site-links, call extensions and offers by these three parameters.

Couldn’t we do this already?

In the most case, this is true, we could.

As an advertiser’s agency we would build out separate campaigns for mobile search, have different bids for these keywords and we could target different times of day for these campaigns.

For example: if an advertiser wanted to advertise by different device and had a call extension which should be visible only when a call centre is open. Best practice was to copy the campaign and create separate versions for mobile search and tablet search, creating 3 campaigns for desktop, mobile and tablet. To have one add showing a call extension phone number when a call centre is open and an ad without this extension when the call centre is closed these campaigns would have to be duplicated again. This would entail scheduling the campaigns so a different set of ads were visible when the call centre was open/closed. It does mean the same keywords could be in 3 different campaigns (split by each device type) then these would be split into a further two campaigns to facilitate the different scheduling of call extensions on/off. This totals 6 campaigns instead of just one for the same set of keywords. If you do this for an account which has 10 campaigns there is immediately 60 different campaigns before you even start to look at targeting different locations or times of day for bidding. Therefore, this could mean substantial account management time in terms of adjusting bids and ad copy across targeting options, as well as potentially making reporting more difficult.

The changes also add some new useful features such as site-link reporting and ‘smarter’ ads which can automatically tell which device is being used, showing the preferred ads and ad extensions for these particular devices.

How does it work?

The system will now work by using bid multipliers. The bid multipliers will be set by taking your base bid and setting percentage increase/decrease by targeting options of device, location and time of day. The desktop/tablet keyword bid is the base rate bid and always on. You can bid up to 300% (or down -100%) on your mobile campaign. Location and time schedule targeting can be increased or decreased by -90 to 900% but never paused.

Is there any drawback or loss of functionality?

In short, yes! From a targeting (device, location & scheduling), reporting and bidding perspective there are some changes to functionality.

Advertisers can’t opt out.

The enhanced campaigns will automatically have advertisers targeting all devices for all keywords.

  • Previously advertisers could simply un-tick devices they don’t want to be visible for.
  • Advertisers could also have a specific message for a location in a separate location campaign, currently this is not possible.
  • Advertisers could ad-schedule their mobile activity with a different time strategy for mobile, desktop and tablet.

Additionally Google Adwords advertisers with a focus on mobile search will no longer be able to target different mobile operating systems or device types such as android or iphone.

This adds to the concern that there is a some loss of control significantly as Google now views desktop and tablets as the same landscape so there is no bid difference or multiplier between the two (especially considering tablet bids could be up to 30% lower for the same position & different day part strategies).

Bidding: Advertisers will not be able to cap spend by device and how the different bids by device will appear in the interface will be interesting.

We are yet to see if we can get this information in reporting, in the most part it appears reporting will be grouped together, so how mobile performs at different times of the day as compared to desktop/tablet will not be possible, yet.

Reporting

Advanced reporting does have its benefits, including allowing us to see more consumer actions classed as conversions. This comes in the form of ‘goal types’, where we can easily count calls, length of calls and app downloads as conversions within Google Adwords.

Reporting some metrics such as quality score, however, will now be a “blended average” across all devices, instead of allowing us to see the differences in quality score for keywords on different devices, making it hard to track any real improvements or reductions in quality score on specific devices.

What if an application we are promoting is only available on an iPhone and not android or vice versa?

Google does claim the new system is smart enough to tell what operating system and device type users have, therefore if there is an app download link it will only show to those users using the right device type for the app. That is great although there is a loss of transparency to see if this is working correctly.

Our perspective:

Overall this should be a good thing, making campaign management easier, faster and efficient. In the words of Google, they want to be: ‘making the web work for you’ and this development should help users, advertisers and agencies in the long run by streamlining the way we micro-target potential customers with a message relevant to them. It is designed for the future of seamless digital cross-device engagement, also being able to schedule elements vital to your business such as call extensions. This is something the interface has been crying out for, for some time.

However, despite previous best practice advice, the new enhanced campaigns structure is there to accommodate easier management of cross-device landscapes and although we fully anticipate the migration to be difficult, we believe that taking advantage of these changes for our client accounts as soon as possible will prove beneficial in the long term.

Reporting flexibility and transparency will also need to improve as the system need develops as advertisers who base strategy around the performance of these elements will need to see this data.

As with all new releases, the first phase of development will uncover areas of improvement which are needed. Google have been very good in the past in listening to feedback and developing their products. This product release will be no different. There are tools already being rolled out to support transition of campaigns and new products which will be in beta testing that can be used following the development of the enhanced campaigns are already being launched.

It may take time to develop the bidding strategies most suited to each advertiser and to understand exactly how the bid multiplier will work with multiplying several different elements at the same time. Advertisers will have to ensure the different elements are considered and put processes in place for bid management.

So, this is an exciting new development which is only going to support our account management, in time.

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