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Enhanced Campaigns: What Does Google's Major Change to AdWords Mean for You?

by Paul Taylor  |  
April 3, 2013

Google recently announced a major change to AdWords, called Enhanced Campaigns. The change is considered major for two reasons.

First, the number and substance of changes are quite substantial. Second, the upgrade requires a migration for each campaign in an account. I’ll explain each in more detail in this post.

Campaigns do not have to be migrated immediately. However, current campaigns will sunset at some point this year (indications point to Q2), and, at that point, Enhanced Campaigns will be forced upon advertisers.

After numerous conversations and a little time to view and play with the changes, we have come to the conclusion that most changes can be viewed as enhancements and improvements. However, a couple items can lower the advertiser’s ability to optimize their campaigns.

Here is a breakdown of the changes.

The Positives

All in One

Google has removed the device opt-out mechanism and has added the ability to target ads by device within a single campaign. Unique campaigns will no longer have to be set up for mobile devices. An advertiser will be able to create unique ads, see segmented reports by device, and make bid adjustments for mobile from within the same campaign as desktop, laptops, and tablets. For many advertisers, that will lower the amount of resources needed to manage their accounts.

Bid Adjustments Galore

New bid adjustments could be the coolest new feature in Enhanced Campaigns. Bid adjustments are percentage increases of the base keyword or ad group bids. Bid adjustments for locations, days and times, and ad group level targeting can be set from -90% to +900%. Additionally, mobile device bids can be changed from -90% to +300% or, to effectively turn off mobile, bids can be set to -100%.

Bid adjustments also interact with each other. Talk about getting granular in your bid strategies!

If you are operating a pizzeria in Boston’s North End, you may set your bids to increase 50% around lunchtime, dinner time, and weekends. You may have also set your ads to appear only within Boston. But then, you set your bids to increase 100% within a 3-mile radius of your location. You understand that users performing a search for your keywords on a mobile device tend to have an immediate need and convert better. So, you increase your bids for mobile devices another 50%. An initial bid for $.50 for the term “North End Pizzeria” on the weekend (+50%), by a user within 3 miles of your location (+100%), from a mobile device (+50%), becomes a bid of $1.50 for a laser-targeted prospect! Localized businesses are the clear winners here.

Expanded Tracking and Reporting

More data is never a bad thing, right? Track conversions by app downloads, calls lasting over a user-defined amount of time, and offer redemptions. Find segmented data, by device, down to the keyword level. View performance for individual sitelinks and call links. There is so much more granularity to the data! The lack of granular sitelink click data has long been a point of contention. Having click data available for individual sitelinks is a great addition, although long overdue.

Upgraded Ad Extensions

Have you been frustrated by the campaign-level limitations of extensions? Have you had to create specific campaigns just to organize a specific extension to work with a specific keyword set? That all goes away. The following are now available at the ad group level: Sitelink Extensions, Call Extensions, App Extensions, and Offer Extensions. Previously, ad extension management was just plain clunky. If you set up four sitelinks and one was disapproved, they were all disapproved. Then you’d have to open a case with editorial to let you know which sitelink caused the disapproval.

Now, all extensions are approved granularly. Previously extensions worked like ads. If you edited one character of the extension, you basically created a new extension and reset stats. Stats are no longer reset. Because one campaign houses all devices, sitelink and app extensions can be customized for mobile. Finally, extensions can be scheduled to run for specific days and times, or set to start and end on specific dates.

As you can see, numerous additions have been rolled out. Advertisers will be spending hours testing new tools and pouring over the detailed data. Some businesses will find that the enhancements will allow them to realize greater profits and sizable growth.

The Negatives

The Conspiracy Theory

Out of all the enhancements listed above, which made it necessary to have a migration process to Enhanced Campaigns? If you’ve migrated a campaign, that’s easy to answer. Only one aspect really changes with the initial migration. Everything else is “opt-in” after the fact. So, why didn’t Google just add all these upgrades, many of which were long overdue and really didn’t need to be bundled into a migration?

Let’s take a look at the one item that caused the need for a migration.

That one item is the ability to select or deselect specific devices (desktops, laptops, and mobile devices with full browsers and tablets with full browsers) from seeing ads  to being forced to accept all three of these devices. Google does allow for mobile device bids to be adjusted up or down. Even allowing mobile bids to be lowered 100%, effectively “turning off” ads for this device. But now some advertisers are stuck having to show ads on tablets with no bid adjustment apparatus available.

Did Google come to realize that the rapid adoption of tablets, coupled with a portion of their client base opting out of delivering ads to tablets, has been costing them millions and millions of dollars? Did Google package all these changes into Enhanced Campaigns to gloss over this forced upgrade? (It will be forced at some point this year.) Why not just let the advertisers adjust their bids up or down for tablets in the same manner as mobile devices? The technology is there, so the migration process would have been the perfect time.

An Oversight

A lot of the buzz surrounding Enhanced Campaigns hits on mobile integration, on getting advertisers to make use of mobile search. However, it seems that no one took the time to think about the advertiser that does focus on mobile search. That an advertiser may only focus on mobile search. At this point in time, with Enhanced Campaigns, only advertising on mobile devices is pretty much impossible.

Here is the current best practice for limiting exposure on desktops, laptops, and tables, and displaying ads on mobile devices: Set a low base bid for your keywords (this is the bid that desktops, laptops, and tablets will use in the ad auction) and then increase your bid 300% (largest amount currently allowable) for mobile devices. If you set your base bid really low, will a 300% increase be enough to compete in the mobile device ad auction? If you set your base bid higher (to make the 300% increase competitive), you’ll attract exposure on desktops, laptops, and tablets. That’s not really a best practice; it’s a stop gap solution.

Other Small Drawbacks

The lack of multiple URLs for mobile and full browser devices at the keyword destination level is another mobile oversight. The inability for third-party reporting systems to dynamically track clicks and conversions by device type is going to be a major hindrance. Additionally, the lack of notice with regards to the radical changes in Enhanced Campaigns that third-party systems need to develop for, even though these changes are not yet accounted for in Google’s API. (Note: They were quickly added to Google’s Desktop Editor at the end of February.)

The added functionality derived from the Google Enhanced Campaign migration will be a good thing overall for most advertisers. However, some advertisers will lose some flexibility they depended on to profit from Google AdWords.
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CEO a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Paul Taylor leads strategic and day-to-day operations at Webmarketing123. He holds a BS and MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

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