Enhanced Campaigns are coming

Yesterday Google announced a new feature called Enhanced Campaigns.

In essence, this allows you to create one monster campaign, and then make bid adjustments based upon various criteria based on your prospects’ device, location (probably), and time of day (which we can already do).

In other words, you can have one campaign, set your bids for desktops and then do a bid ‘modification’ for mobile devices so you don’t need two campaigns.

Now, as a recovering control freak, I like the level of granular control that the current system offers & I can see a number of disadvantages in the new system – see below.

True it is very early days with this feature (most Google staff were only briefed about it this week!) so there may be additional changes in the pipeline.

Let’s look at the positives first.

If you’re not already segmenting campaigns by device, then this will simplify things for you.

There are also major changes coming to the way sitelinks are used & reporting for sitelinks gets a long overdue beef-up. You’ll be able to set sitelinks by device & even time of day – nice. And we’ll finally be able to get stats for individual sitelinks rather than the entire set.

Another big change is with cross-device conversion tracking. Details are still very sketchy on this & as one colleague pointed out this could be a lawsuit waiting to happen for EU advertisers! More on this as details emerge.

Now the downsides… there are a few!

We’re going to lose the granular control that we love & we at WebSavvy is part of the strategic advantage we offer clients with a very well-run AdWords account.

Specifically if all your keywords & ads are thrown into 1 big campaign, then there are potential issues around ad-serving, keywords used by each device & our old friend Quality Score.

Ad-Serving

Buried in the Google documentation is this great line:

- Mobile optimized ads will tend to show more often than other ads on mobile devices.
- Other ads (not set as mobile optimized) will tend to show more often than mobile optimized ads on desktop and tablet devices.

My concern is that mobile ads should never show on desktops & vice versa. This will need some testing!

Keywords Used

Anyone that’s run a few mobile campaigns will tell you that you need different keywords for smartphone compared to desktops. People search on them very differently.

If all of our keywords are in one large campaign, how do we keep the level of control we need to show different keywords on different devices & (easily) set different bids for those devices. Often we’ll want to bid less on mobiles, but there are many phrases where we might be 3x the desktop bid… this is a keyword level decision, NOT a campaign level one.

Quality Score

My thanks to the God of AdWords Brad Geddes for pointing this one out to me.

His comments:
“My biggest concern is Quality Score and if Google will let us see segmented quality score (segmented by device). Right now, I commonly see the same word with vastly different quality scores by device. Since you can see it by device; then you can make the appropriate changes to the ads/organization. However, if you only see a combined QS; that will make QS optimization more difficult. Also, since you have more ads per ad group (mobile and desktop) then you also have more ad serving combinations to try and examine when figuring out what’s wrong with your QS. This is either going to lead to less options; more random ad testing where you hope your QS goes up; or some very sophisticated analysis to determine how/when/where to increase QS.”

Wise words from the master.

Likely outcomes of this change

Overall this is likely to push the cost of clicks on mobiles up. Given the hammering Google’s share price got when they announced last year the overall dip in average CPC (due to mobile clicks) it’s really no surprise that they’re chasing the money & implementing a system that will (for the vast majority of advertisers) make mobile bidding more expensive.

Likewise the less-savvy advertisers who don’t know (or care) about these new settings (they will be mandatory from mid-2013 onwards) will find themselves opting in for mobiles unintentionally & paying for those clicks.

Rant… Once again Google is (IMHO) dumbing-down the system & at the same time, taking control out of our hands – the advertisers that keep the $14B/month engine afloat   /rant

If you don’t have much time to run your account, or can’t afford to have your account professionally managed by an agency like WebSavvy, then expect to pay more for your advertising.

Sure you’ll have the illusion of efficiency (initial account setup will be faster & you won’t notice the lack of controls) but there will be a cost to that.

For the savvy advertiser that wants to control costs & squeeze the most from the system (without increasing costs) this is going to add complexity to both management and reporting. There will be work-arounds & strategies to deal with this. Our job is to find & implement them.

How to deal with the change

The option to use Enhanced Campaigns will roll out to individual accounts over the coming weeks. Any campaigns not migrated will be forced to the new system around the middle of the year (likely June 2013).

So if you’re running your own account, I’d suggest taking 1 or 2 campaigns & opting in as soon as you can. Make changes, test, play with it. You should know too that AdWords Editor v10.0 will be released later this month & will have new features to aid with the implementation of Enhanced Campaigns.

We’ll certainly be running a number of tests in the coming months to get the best possible results for clients.

We also recommend evaluating your digital campaigns & especially the use of a mobile-optimised site (if you haven’t already).

What to expect if you’re already a WebSavvy client

You can relax. We’ll be working with our Google reps to test the new features & roll them out to your campaigns at an appropriate time for each client account. We’ll keep you updated on the results of our tests & the performance of your account.

If you have any questions about your account, please drop us a note at the support@ email address or just give us a ring 1300 93 27 28 (1300 WebSavvy)

In summary, we don’t yet know if this is a good or bad change. I never like to lose control over any element of the system, but it looks like this change is a big one & here to stay. So there’s no point complaining, we’ll just get on with it. This does look like it’s going to be beneficial for Google’s bottom line though & that’s always a concern to savvy advertisers!

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