GOOGLE ENHANCED CAMPAIGNS: PERFORMICS POINT OF VIEW

Google has announced “Enhanced Campaigns,” which incorporates significant changes AdWords campaign management.  AdWords will migrate to a new campaign management user interface, which is primarily designed to manage hybrid desktop and mobile campaigns per keyword.  Most significantly, advertisers will no longer run separately managed mobile (smartphone), tablet or desktop campaigns.  Targeting, bids, creative and ad extensions for different devices will be managed within the same campaign.

IMPLICATIONS FOR ADVERTISERS

The changes fall into a few main categories: (1) bid management & targeting, (2) creative & landing pages and (3) reporting & tracking:

1.  Bid Management & Targeting
In Enhanced Campaigns, desktop, tablet and smartphone campaigns will no longer be separately managed.  Tablets will be considered desktop.  Advertisers and agencies cannot run desktop-only, smartphone-only or tablet-specific campaigns in the current fashion, and they cannot separate budgets by device.  In Enhanced Campaigns, we now set one individual bid per desktop/tablet keyword (the base bid) and then add an adjustment (variance) to that base bid for smartphones.  The bid adjustment can be between negative 100% and positive 300% of the base bid.  Although devices are merged, we can effectively still opt-out of smartphones (but not tablet) by adjusting bids for smartphones to the lowest allowable bid (which is negative 100%, or $0).

Because desktop and mobile campaigns will merge, advertisers will now only have one quality score, a combined score.  Quality score is no longer based on keyword per device; it’s based only on keyword.  It remains to be seen how this change in quality score will affect CPCs, especially smartphone CPCs.  Theoretically, combining desktop and mobile quality scores could serve to normalize smartphone CPCs, which have historically been at a deep discount from desktop CPCs.   Additionally, forcing campaigns into mobile may increase mobile competition, thus CPCs.  However, Google has stated that mobile quality scores will be ported over if the keyword, ad creative, and landing page combinations in the Enhanced Campaign are the same as they were in the mobile-only account.  Over the next few weeks, Performics will be testing exactly how quality scores may be impacted.

2. Copy & Landing Pages

In Enhanced Campaigns, creative/copy settings will be based on location, device and time.  Advertisers will still be able to tailor copy to smartphones and desktops, but because tablets are now part of desktop, they’ll no longer be able to tailor copy to tablets.
Additionally, because desktops and tablets are now the same, advertisers will no longer be able to drive ads to tablet-specific landing pages.  More importantly, because there’s no ability to opt-out of tablets, advertisers without tablet-optimized sites will be challenged in capturing and converting traffic.  Sites with responsive web design to mobile devices will be best positioned (i.e. sites that detect and adjust to whether a person is a desktop, tablet or smartphone).  Optimizing mobile experiences for participants is critical to search marketing success, and if you’re an advertiser that hasn’t yet been focused on smartphone and tablet experiences, Enhanced Campaigns provides you with even more incentive to do so.

3. Reporting & Call Tracking
Enhanced Campaigns will improve reporting for all ad types, including sitelinks at the campaign and ad group level.  Advertisers will still be able to report and segment by device—desktop, tablet, mobile.  The reporting UI will not change initially. AdWords tracking will support multiple conversion types (e.g. leads, downloads, etc.).  Call tracking will be free (as opposed to paid call tracking solutions that some advertisers use).  Most importantly, as advertisers upgrade, their historical reports and stats will not be deleted.  When desktop and mobile campaigns are merged, historical stats will still be available for both campaigns.

WHY DID GOOGLE MAKE THIS CHANGE?

For the last few years, marketers have been managing campaigns separately by specific device: (1) desktop, (2) tablet, (3) smartphone.  Meanwhile, people have been moving across devices, fluidly consuming content.  Not to mention, participants have adopted “hybrid devices” (is it a laptop, tablet, smartphone or something in between?).  Because participants think of devices as fluidly-connected hybrids, Google is now giving marketers the ability to manage devices as fluidly-connected hybrids—by keyword across all devices.  This is the biggest change Google has made to AdWords in the past decade, and it revolves around providing advertisers with the ability to create enhanced participant experiences to accommodate changing mobile behaviors.  AdWords will now be designed to manage hybrid desktop and mobile campaigns per context (user intent), not per device.

Additionally, there’s the issue of smartphone cost-per-clicks (CPCs).  For Performics’ aggregate client base, smartphone CPCs were 35% of desktop CPCs in December 2012.  Part of the reason that smartphones have lower CPCs is because advertisers are able to generate high quality scores through relevancy factors that increase click-through (like location targeting and click-to-call).  And smartphones—with their lower CPCs and increasing share of overall paid search clicks (smartphones were 18% of total paid search clicks in December for Performics’ clients)—are pulling down overall Google CPCs.  By eliminating the distinction between smartphone quality score and desktop quality score, as well as increasing competition in mobile by opting all campaigns into mobile, Google could possibly normalize CPCs across devices, potentially pulling up smartphone CPCs, thus overall CPCs.  However, this remains to be seen based on how mobile and desktop quality scores blend together.

Furthermore, tablets were 17% of all paid search clicks for Performics’ aggregate client base in December, at 85% of desktop CPCs.  Now, tablets will be rolled into desktop, and it remains to be seen how tablet quality scores or CPCs will blend into desktop.
Performics has a team specifically dedicated to migrating accounts to Enhanced Campaigns on a rolling basis from mid-March to the end of June.  We’ll be paying close attention to quality scores, CPCs and performance and will provide future updates.

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