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Mobile Search Advertising Just Got Way Easier: AdWords Enhanced Campaigns

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Today (Feb. 6, 2013) Google announced some major upcoming changes that will make mobile ad campaign management exponentially simpler in AdWords. The new "Enhanced Campaigns" will be available as an upgrade by late February and become the default for all campaigns by June or so.

In this article, I'll explain what Enhanced Campaigns are all about and what you need to know. These changes will have particular impact on small and midsize business (SMB) advertisers.

What Are Enhanced Campaigns?

Previously, the best-practice for paid search on mobile was to create separate campaigns targeting different devices. The problem? A lot of extra work and campaign management complexity for advertisers. So much so, that the vast majority of advertisers didn't bother—especially at SMBs.

Mobile search is growing rapidly—it now accounts for about half of all searches—so Google knew it had to do something to simplify the process and increase mobile advertising adoption.


Enter Enhanced Campaigns. Google is upgrading the decade-old PPC campaign structure so that advertisers can make use of key mobile advertising features without having to create separate campaigns for every location and device combination.

Going forward, ad campaigns will be different in two major ways:

  1. Better bidding options for location and device: Google is expanding time-of-day–based bidding and including new bidding options for location and device. Rather than having to create separate geo-targeted and mobile-specific campaigns, you can now do it all in one campaign. You need only specify a single bid adjustment factor for location and device.

    Specifically, for geo-specific and time-of-day–based bidding, you'll be able to specify a bid adjustment multiplier from -90% to +900% (so roughly 0.1 to 10x). For mobile devices, you can now specify a bid adjustment between -100% and +300%. If you want to opt out of mobile, then you can bid it down by -100%, which effectively turns off mobile search.
  2. Smarter, more contextual ads: Within a single campaign, you will be able to have different ads for desktop and mobile. Google will automatically pick the right ad to run with and adjust settings based on user context. (It's just that easy.)

    In addition, since creating a great mobile ad experience involves more than just changing bids, Google is rolling out some new ad extension management features, including check boxes for your various ad extensions that specify that you only want your extension to run on mobile or desktop. Moreover, extensions will have new scheduling capabilities—for example, the ability to run an ad extension only during happy hour.

In essence, Enhanced Campaigns will take the mobile advertising features that were previously available, but rarely used because of time and complexity, and make them much easier to implement across campaigns for all Google advertisers.

Simplified Mobile Search Reporting

Here are some other changes and new features associated with the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns:

  • No more mobile call reporting fees: Previously Google charged advertisers a dollar extra per call to use the advanced mobile call reporting features. This was an obvious deterrent to advertisers so Google is dumping the extra fee.
  • New conversion type: Traditional conversion tracking in AdWords is based on a user's finding a thank-you page after completing a goal. This doesn't work so well in mobile search because the CTA is often a phone call. Accordingly, Google is introducing a new mobile advertising conversion type based on call duration, as specified by the advertiser.

Enhanced Campaign Upgrade Paths

Google will give advertisers until the end of June (roughly) to upgrade to Enhanced Campaigns. After that, all accounts will be automatically upgraded. Two upgrade paths are available, depending on the current state of your campaigns:

  1. If you're like most advertisers and you never bothered to separate out your campaigns into desktop vs. mobile—congratulations! Your upgrade path is pretty straightforward. You just need to set your mobile bid adjustment factor (or let Google set it for you).
  2. If you've previously created desktop-only or mobile-only campaigns, they will be upgraded to run across both desktop and mobile devices. Google will automatically adjust bids on your behalf.

If you're on path No. 2 and you had already created different campaigns for mobile and desktop, tread carefully: You will now end up with two different campaigns targeting similar keywords. That's less than ideal for advertisers who are already following best-practices. (See these Enhanced Campaign resources.)

What Does it All Mean for Advertisers?

For one, mobile CPCs are probably going up. I predict that by the end of the year they'll be about the same as desktop CPC's on average.

But, on the whole, the changes will be positive for advertisers. The ROI of mobile search is compelling, and currently most advertisers don't take advantage of advanced mobile search strategies because they don't have the time or don't know how to make it work.

By greatly simplifying the process of mobile campaign creation and management, Google is likely to see a big uptake in mobile advertising adoption. I think Enhanced Campaigns will be particularly helpful for time- and budget-strapped SMBs.

For a more in-depth look at Enhanced Campaigns and the mobile bid adjustment factors, see my more detailed post at the WordStream blog.


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Larry Kim is the founder/CTO of WordStream Inc., provider of the AdWords Grader and 20 Minute PPC Work Week.

Google+: Larry Kim

Twitter: @larrykim

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