Google today announced a sweeping set of changes to AdWords in a bid to simplify mobile campaign management and increase mobile advertising adoption. These changes, dubbed Enhanced Campaigns, will become available to customers by the end of the month and roll out automatically to all advertisers by mid-year. In this article, I’ll walk through the coming changes in detail.
What’s Driving the Change?
Over the last 5 years, growth in query volume from mobile phones has greatly outpaced growth from desktop computers. The number of daily searches on Google from mobile devices is expected to surpass daily desktop search volume by next year.
But Google has a challenge with mobile advertising adoption. Namely, in order to take advantage of the sophisticated mobile advertising features and strategies that are required to be successful, advertisers must take on a lot of additional campaign management complexity. Currently, advertisers are expected to create multiple different campaigns – one for every city and every possible device combination, which quickly becomes pretty difficult, if not impossible for the average advertiser to manage. At WordStream, we estimate that within the SMB segment, less than 1 in 25 bothered doing the work of mobile-enabling their PPC campaigns!
Given that mobile search now accounts for roughly half of all searches, Google is now rolling out new “Enhanced Campaigns” with the goal of greatly simplifying PPC campaign management and baking mobile options in to all campaigns.
AdWords Enhanced Campaigns: How They Work
Google is rethinking how we deal with the multi-device world we live in, and is upgrading the decade-old PPC campaign structure so that advertisers can leverage key mobile advertising features without having to create separate campaigns for every location and device combination.
Going forward, ad campaigns will be different in several ways:
- More Bidding Options for Location and Device: Currently, AdWords supports bid adjustments based on time of day (e.g., you can bid more when your store is open and bid less when you are closed). Google is expanding on this concept and including new bidding options for location and device. Rather than having to create specific geo-targeted campaigns and mobile-specific campaigns, you can now do that all in one campaign.
- Your Ads Get a Lot Smarter: Ads are getting a lot smarter about user context. Within a single campaign, you can have different ads for desktop and mobile and Google will make note of what device is executing the search and will correctly pick the right ad to run with. Ads and settings will be adjusted for you automatically.
So overall, the idea of Enhanced Campaigns is to take the mobile advertising features that were previously available – but rarely used because they were too hard to implement – and offer them in a much more scalable way for all Google advertisers.
New Bid Adjustments: A Closer Look
So how do all these new bid adjustments work, exactly? For starters, all of the keywords and bids in your account still exist – no changes there. The key difference is that rather than exploding the size of your PPC account by breaking out your PPC campaigns into hundreds of possible campaign variants, you only need to specify a single bid adjustment factor for location and device.
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 absolutely want to opt out of mobile, then you can bid it down by -100%, which effectively turns off mobile search.
As a result of having the new campaign bidding options for location, time of day, and device, all device targeting is going away. Note also that you will no longer be able to target tablets specifically. Google claims that with the device ecosystem rapidly evolving, the boundary between tablets and notebooks is blurring. Take, for example, a Windows Surface device that can operate as both a notebook and a tablet.
Smarter, More Customizable Ads
With Enhanced Campaigns, you’ll essentially be offered a check-box that says: “I want this ad to run on mobile.” If you just have one ad in an ad group, and you check this box, then it’s going to run across all devices. But if you do have an ad group that has the new universal ads and mobile ads in the same ad group, Google will always display your mobile ad to run on the mobile devices. Essentially, mobile and desktop ads can now live together, in the same campaigns!
Since creating a great mobile ad experience involves more than just changing a keyword bid, Google is rolling out some new ad extension management features. These include check boxes for your various ad extensions, like call extensions or site link extensions, that specify that you only want your extension to run on mobile or desktop. This way, advertisers can continue to optimize the ads, landing pages, ad text (etc.) for mobile and desktop search, respectively. Additionally, ad extensions will all have new scheduling capabilities – like the ability to run certain ad extensions during happy hour.
Simplified Mobile Campaign Reporting
Google is also bringing out a few more changes and new features designed to make it easier to understand the ROI of mobile search, including:
- The End of Mobile Call Reporting Fees: Previously Google had offered mobile call reporting features to allow an advertiser to see what phone numbers called, when, and how long the calls lasted. This was helpful but a bit bizarre in that Google actually charged advertisers a dollar extra per call to use it – which, sadly, acted as a disincentive to adopt mobile search features! Going forward, Google is dumping the extra fee.
- New Mobile Advertising Conversion Type: The ROI of mobile search is systematically under-reported because conversion tracking is based on a user finding a thank-you page after having placed an order online or completing another goal. In mobile search, the call to action is often to make a phone call, so traditional conversion tracking doesn’t work. So Google is introducing a new mobile advertising conversion type, based on call duration and specified by the advertiser.
The Upgrade Path for Enhanced Campaigns
Google will give advertisers until mid-year (around end of June) to manually upgrade to the new Enhanced Campaigns, and then will automatically upgrade all accounts. Here’s the two paths:
- If you’re like the vast majority of advertisers and you never bothered with separating your campaigns into different experiences for desktop vs. mobile – then you’re in luck! Your upgrade path is pretty straightforward. You just need to set your mobile bid adjustment factor, which Google will set for you automatically – more on that shortly.
- If you’ve previously created a desktop-only or mobile-only campaign, then by default it would be upgraded to run across desktop and mobile devices, and Google will automatically set a non-zero initial mobile bid adjustment factor on your behalf.
I’m a little wary about the default settings for the second path, because advertisers who had previously followed best practices and separated their mobile/desktop campaigns will now end up having two campaigns targeting similar keywords with different ad experiences.
So Are Mobile CPC’s Going Up?
Yes. I believe that on average, they’ll be the same as desktop CPC’s after the auto-upgrade rolls out due to increased advertiser competition and all of the auto-set mobile bid adjustment factors. In fact, last month Google CEO Larry Page was asked on an earnings call if he thought that mobile CPC’s would be going up any time soon, to which he responded: “I am very, very optimistic about it … we are working to simplify our ad system for advertisers … We don’t have anything to announce today but I am very excited about our efforts there. I think that we will make rapid progress in that area.”
What Does it All Mean for Advertisers?
I think the changes make a lot of sense. Right now there are a bunch of advertisers that opt out of mobile search because they think (incorrectly) that the ROI isn’t there. In particular, small businesses aren’t too keen on doubling the number of ad campaigns in their account because that doubles their work! It’s also a bit more challenging to track the ROI of mobile search.
I believe that the ROI of mobile search is very compelling due to factors like precise location, immediacy, commercial intent, and 1-click-to-call. It’s always been a matter of just getting the advertiser to adopt the somewhat complicated best practices in terms of campaign setup and reporting to realize these benefits. By simplifying this process, I’m confident that we’ll see an uptake in mobile advertising adoption and ROI. I think the new enhanced campaigns will be particularly helpful for SMBs who are not yet taking advantage of mobile search.
For a more detailed look at Enhanced Campaigns and the mobile bid adjustment factor, see my longer article at the WordStream blog.
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