Saturday, 20 April 2013

Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Posted on March 6, 2013 at 8:59 am by Rich Funk in Paid Search

Over the last week or so, you might have seen a cheery box staring back at you when you logged into your Google AdWords account asking you if you want to upgrade your account to take advantage of Google’s new “Enhanced Campaigns.”

Upgrade! Enhanced! These are two of the ultimate trigger words for any search marketer, so if any of you reading this have already clicked on the button to upgrade, even without knowing everything about Enhanced Campaigns, I cannot blame you. I just hope that Enhanced Campaigns are for you. Some accounts will see a lot of benefit from this change. Others may have to deal with being opted into targeting they might not want.

So are Enhanced Campaigns for you? Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks to see whether this upgrade is actually an advantage for you.

The Good

If your PPC account has a different targeting or messaging strategy for multiple devices or geographic locations, you probably have a large number of campaigns in your account. After all, a good search marketer will manage separate campaigns for desktops, mobile phones and tablets if there is a different strategy for each.

Well get ready to clean up all of that. One benefit of Enhanced Campaigns is that you’ll now be able to manage bids across location, time of day, device type and more from a single campaign. For those of us who have accounts with 30-50 different campaigns, this is potentially a huge time saver.

You’ll also be able to show your ads across all devices while being able to designate specific ad text, sitelinks or extensions to show only on specific devices. On top of that, you’ll be able to specify location and time of day. You’ll no longer have to create a brand new campaign for every combination of geo-targeting, device and time of day. Here’s what this will look like (Click to enlarge):

Google AdWords Enhanced Campaign

The last major update of Enhanced Campaigns is having additional types of conversions. Now you’ll be able to track conversions such as app downloads and phone calls from smartphones directly within the AdWords interface. Google also mentioned that in the future, store visits could be tracked as well, which would close a giant blind spot in a lot of location-based PPC campaigns.

The Bad

Not everything is sunshine and roses for everyone. The reason you have to opt in to Enhanced Campaigns right now is because it introduces some major changes to your campaigns. These are changes that may not benefit many businesses without mobile-optimized sites.

One of the more significant changes is that tablets and desktops are now considered the same as far as AdWords targeting goes. On the surface this makes sense, with most popular tablets like the iPad and Nexus 7 having desktop browsers as opposed to mobile browsers. However, there are some companies that have found low-cost, high converting traffic on tablets specifically over the last few years, and those tablet-specific campaigns will now have to go out the window. For example, if you have an app that’s designed specifically for tablets, you’ll have to find a way to get that strategy to work with desktop searchers seeing the same ad copy or landing pages. On the flip side of that, you also cannot opt out of targeting tablets. Those of you who have conversions that involve software or whitepaper downloads, which don’t work on tablets, will just have to work around it. Same with those of you who have Flash-heavy sites that don’t display on tablets.

One potential solution would be not targeting iOS or Android operating systems, but Google is doing away with operating system targeting, too.

The Ugly

The worst part of Google’s Enhanced Campaigns is the fact that you cannot technically opt out of targeting mobile devices. Instead of being able to choose whether you want to target mobile phones and adjusting your mobile bids accordingly, all Enhanced Campaigns require targeting mobile devices. Instead of bidding with a dollar amount on mobile traffic, you’ll use a percentage of your desktop bid.

For example, if you bid $3 on a keyword on desktop, but you only want to bid $1.50 for the same keyword on mobile, you’ll have to set the mobile bid at -50%. Technically, you could set all of your mobile bids to “-100%” if you don’t want to target mobile devices, but that seems like a very complicated way to do something that currently exists within Google’s interface.

An unfortunate side effect of forcing all AdWords users to opt into mobile targeting is the fact that mobile click prices will probably rise over the next few months. One reason search marketers love mobile PPC is because for the most part, mobile traffic is less expensive since there isn’t as much competition. Now that more people are going to be present in the mobile auction, whether they like it or not, prices will shift because of the increased competition. This is good for Google. This is bad for you.

So How Does This Affect Me?

If you have three or more campaigns that are cloned versions of your desktop campaigns, one for each targeting segment you do, Enhanced Campaigns are a godsend. It’s going to streamline your setup process and cut down on the day-to-day upkeep that goes into supporting all of those campaigns.

If you’re not doing any mobile targeting, you will need to start soon. (See other reasons your business needs a mobile-optimized site.) Yes, there are ways to avoid having to pay for mobile traffic, as I explained above. But that might not last too much longer. The future of paid search is here, and we’re all along for the ride, even if we aren’t ready quite yet.

Rich Funk is 435 Digital's PPC specialist.

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Tags: , Google Adwords, paid search

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