So what have been the actual impacts of Enhanced Campaigns?
Back in February, Google announced significant changes to its AdWords advertising platform adding a functionality it called "Enhanced Campaigns". Put simply, it centralises controls for mobile and desktop advertising campaigns in one place and offers advertisers more data to show the real value of their campaigns. Previously businesses have had to submit individual advertising campaigns for different devices, locations and times - a labour-intensive process which, most times, results in running hundreds of similar campaigns simultaneously.
Following the announcement, there was outrage from most advertisers & agencies, including Greenlight.
The main issues highlighted included:
- Google has always been at pains to stress it is best practice to separate campaigns by device. However, with "Enhanced Campaigns", this functionality is now being removed, and once it is fully rolled out, all devices will have to be targeted within one campaign.
- In the new format campaign budgets will be set at campaign level and bids at keyword level, allowing no differentiation between devices.
- Arguably the biggest challenge is that of third party tracking
solutions. Although Google has a fix for most providers, we have
definitely had issues especially with tracking mobile. Omniture in
particular seems unable to adapt the
tracking in Search Centre to pull through mobile devices, allowing no visibility against mobile vs desktop/
However, with all the challenges we have also seen quite a few benefits since Enhanced Campaigns were introduced:
1. Ad Placement - Focusing your budget on the context that matters, including time of day, proximity, and type of device.
2. Ad Copy - Refocusing your bidding strategy and messaging to reflect the different contextual situations, allowing the advertiser to be more consistent and automated.
3. Reporting (My personal favourite) - Being able to measure the joint impact of where an ad shows up and what it says e.g. measuring app downloads, offers, and click-to-call etc. (Also Google's first attempt at joining the dots between different devices).
So what have been the actual impacts of Enhanced Campaigns?
1. Although Google has done a good job in documentation and explaining why things need to be done in a certain way, migrating to Enhanced Campaigns isn't as simple as just 'flipping the switch'. Planning is essential. We recommend a phased approach, taking your best performers/largest campaigns first, testing them and then expanding the best approach across all campaigns. Not only does this control the potential negative effects (mainly performance) of Enhanced Campaigns but it also makes it easier to identify any duplication (keywords, device, targeting etc) as part of the transition.
2. The biggest concern for all advertisers and agencies was the impact Enhanced Campaigns would have on cost per clicks (CPC's). Unfortunately, no migration escaped an increase in CPC. Surprisingly, on getting closer to the deadline, the CPC fluctuations appeared to be more severe with the newly merged desktop/tablet device taking the brunt. On average Greenlight saw a steady increase of at least 30% in CPC's since migrating to Enhanced Campaigns. Mobile CPC's are still the cheapest, but we are seeing an increase in tablet CPC's owing to more competitors entering the space and having to compete at desktop bids, rather than the lower tablet CPC's our advertisers are used to paying.
3. Previously campaigns were separated by device, with more keyword coverage on desktop. With Enhanced Campaigns, this then opted all desktop keywords onto mobile as well, with a mobile bid adjustment of -40%. We've seen an increase in mobile traffic, but at a low click through rate (CTR) despite strong positions. With a range of clients we have also tested increasing bid modifiers to +30% for remarketing lists (those who have already visited the site) which has helped to increase conversion rates (CVR) and push more qualified traffic to site. Not having to set this up in a separate campaign saves time and allows us to roll this out almost as a best practice across all campaigns.
4. Clients using Search Centre (Omniture) are unable to implement any fixes to track Enhanced Campaigns. Fortunately we have AdWords tracking in place to give us a steer on this, but it's not a likefor-like, so optimisations by device are not as accurate.
If you've still not taken the plunge, what should you be thinking about?
Phase the migration - Test a handful of high volume terms, then brand terms and then phase accordingly. Otherwise you will see huge CPC spikes which are almost impossible to control. A phased process allows you to manage the potential issues efficiently and highlights any on=going issues for the next phase.
Think about your modifiers - You can adjust your bids for mobile, for gender, for age, for location, you can increase/decrease based on whether a customer has already visited your site or whether they are close in proximity to your store. Think about what makes the most sense and impact to your business and how you want to test this? Make sure you phase in the modifiers so you can assess the impact of each modifier, rather than rolling them all out together which will blend the results into each other.
Monitor performance closely - In some instances we have seen performances improve, but in the majority of cases we have seen CPC increases and in some cases, a drop in visibility. It is important to keep a close eye on these changes.
Budget control - With the one campaign targeting all three devices, obviously the original budget needs to be increased to accommodate this. On top of that though, as more people are entering the mobile and tablet space as a direct result of Enhanced Campaigns, the CPC's are naturally increasing, so bids need to be increased accordingly.
Think Mobile - A major factor to the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns was to get all advertisers 'thinking mobile'. It is essential that your page renders well on these devices, optimise your user journey and ensure you have a strategy to increase performance especially on mobile devices. Up until now, lots of advertisers have neglected mobile, but with the growth in mobile traffic and Enhanced Campaigns developments, without investment and optimisation in your mobile platform, you will get left behind.