Enhanced campaigns are upon us. Google is rolling out the mandatory AdWords “upgrade” gradually, giving even the laggards a chance to ease into the new format, though whether they’ll ease into a mobile way of life has yet to be determined. The transition is sure to make waves in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) waters, but smart marketers that not only adapt, but see new risks and grab new opportunities, will ride those waves to the top.
Times Are a-Changin’
The shift to enhanced campaigns is Google’s way of bringing the tried and true pay-per-click model into an increasingly multi-device, multi-channel world. The new campaigns allow marketers to better target audiences in a contextually relevant way.
Ads within a single campaign will be served based on location, time of day and device type depending on how your bids are weighted. It is a change from legacy campaign management, where previously marketers and search teams could separately target different devices (desktop, mobile and tablet; a combination of all three; mobile-only). With the switch, ad campaigns will be streamlined to target all three (desktop, mobile and tablet).
Enhanced campaigns provide an opportunity for marketers to automate campaigns to reach today’s on-the-go consumers who frequently switch back and forth between devices throughout the day, but the transition significantly impacts companies whose business models and budgets favor highly device-targeted advertising.
The ability for a local insurance agency, for example, to increase bids for consumers within a 5-mile radius of its location and reduce bids for consumers further out is incredibly valuable to businesses. But on the other hand, if a company sees higher ROI and prefers to spend solely on mobile, it may be forced to pay for clicks on desktop and tablet ads — and these clicks may not be as valuable and cost more.
It’s a first step at addressing the need for true multi-channel marketing, though the click is only a small piece of the pie, as consumers have other, more meaningful ways to engage with brands such as phone conversations and offline conversions.
Enhanced Campaign Challenges
Although enhanced campaigns will help (or force, depending on who you ask) advertisers to integrate mobile into their broader marketing strategy, Google now has more control, and some of the transparency and accountability that large, sophisticated search teams relied on will be lost. Bids between desktop, mobile or tablet will be indistinguishable and tracking mobile ROI will be a greater challenge.
Much of the outcry against enhanced campaigns surrounds the anticipation that CPCs will be seriously impacted, and not in favor of AdWords users. Because advertisers are being forced to go mobile, whether they’re prepared or not, mobile targeting will become much more competitive. Mobile is no longer the uncharted frontier of low-hanging fruit. As a result, mobile CPCs will rise, along with tablets which will likely be on par with desktop.
Agencies have already reported experiencing unwelcome CPC fluctuations; one agency tracked a 12% increase for tablet CPCs, a 14% increase for desktop and a 9% jump on mobile beginning mid-April.
Tips for Marketers to Make the Most of It
Adapting to enhanced campaigns will come with challenges, but marketers who are prepared (and excited) are likely to reap lasting rewards. Here are some tips to start making the most of your enhanced campaigns:
1. Take Advantage of New Features
If you’re dragging your feet on enhanced campaigns, keep in mind there are some useful new features beyond targeted bidding for location, time of day and device. Although phone numbers will no longer be allowed directly in ad copy, call extensions come with expanded reporting features allowing you to see call conversions based on the number called, time of call and call duration. Site extensions have also gotten an upgrade with increased flexibility and the option to create your own description for each site link.
AdWords reports that the new, more detailed site-links had significantly higher click-through-rates during testing. New offer extensions also allow advertisers to promote limited-time offers and discounts. Combined with location targeting, offer extensions are a great way to drive in-store traffic.
2. Ease into Bidding
The new bidding format may pose the greatest hazard, so start slowly. Although it’s useful to help target specific demographics, it can easily lead to overspending. Say you modify your bid to target consumers in a designated radius, during a certain time of day, on a smartphone. If a consumer meets all three criteria and clicks your ad, you might spend three, four, five times the original keyword bid.
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