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Google Enhanced Campaigns: What Advertisers Need To Know

In February, Google AdWords launched Enhanced Campaigns, the most sweeping change to its system in recent memory. According to Google, Enhanced Campaigns will use various signals to serve ads: device, time of day, location, and conversion type — thereby making the search ad experience more relevant to each user by showing the right content in the right place at the right time.

Enhanced Campaigns sounds great on the surface. For many advertisers, it is a huge move in the right direction. But for others, Enhanced Campaigns presents new challenges for pay-per-click campaign managers.

In this article, I’ll sort out the key elements of Enhanced Campaigns.

The Changes Are Not Mandatory Yet

Google has said that advertisers have until June 2013 before being forced to convert all legacy campaigns to Enhanced Campaigns. Use the next 90 days to learn as much as you can, and create a strategy for converting your campaigns. Uncomplicated campaigns without specific targeting options can probably be converted now. Use these campaigns to explore Enhanced Campaign features in preparation for moving larger, higher-risk campaigns to the new system.

Device-specific Campaigns Are Going Away

Prior to Enhanced Campaigns, Google encouraged advertisers to separate campaigns by device. The best practice was to have a campaign for desktop computers, and another for smartphones, and another for tablets, and adjust ad copy and bids according to performance.

With Enhanced Campaigns, device-specific campaigns are a thing of the past. Instead, Google offers a bid modifier that can be applied to mobile devices. The modifier ranges from -100 percent — meaning mobile is not included — to +300 percent. So, if you don’t want your ads to show on mobile devices, use the -100 percent modifier.

One significant omission is the fact that tablets will now be lumped in with desktop computers, with no option to opt out or modify bids. According to PPC Hero, a blog from Hanapin Marketing, a digital marketing firm, some advertisers are reporting that their return on investment is worsening as a result. (I’ve previously addressed analyzing metrics in PPC campaigns, at “PPC Basics: Part 8. Evaluating Data.”) If you’ve been using tablet-targeted campaigns, you’ll want to wait to upgrade to Enhanced Campaigns and hope that Google changes this before you’re forced to switch.

Sitelinks Are Now at the Ad Group Level

Enhanced Campaigns are good news for advertisers who have been taking advantage of sitelinks — the links below ad text — which Google explains here. In legacy campaigns, sitelinks are only available at the campaign level. That means every single ad group in one campaign must use the same sitelinks.

With Enhanced Campaigns, sitelinks are available at the ad group level — offering a higher level of control for advertisers who previously struggled to make their sitelinks relevant to every ad group in a campaign.

In addition, sitelinks can now be scheduled. It is now possible to run a special promotion only during specific days or hours. For a detailed look at enhanced sitelinks, see this post at PPC Hero.

Display Campaigns Have Different Settings From Search

Interestingly, this Search Engine Watch article shows how Google kept some features for display advertisers that they took away from search advertisers: namely, device targeting. In fact, Enhanced Campaigns for display ads have even more device targeting options than legacy campaigns.

AdWords Enhanced Campaigns, display ads

AdWords Enhanced Campaigns settings allow for display ads to target specific mobile devices.

While Google’s reasons for different settings for display and search are unclear, Enhanced Campaigns are a boon for display advertisers.

Geotargeting Has Changed.

If you’re using geotargeting, you’ll find that Enhanced Campaigns have made your life both easier and harder. Let’s say you’re a global advertiser, and you have separate campaigns for each country so you can adjust bids based on performance. With Enhanced Campaigns, you can now have one campaign set to “All Locations Worldwide,” and use bid adjustments on a country-by-country basis. So instead of managing, say, 50 different campaigns, you now only need to manage one. Ad copy edits and keyword changes just got easier.

However, if you’re using geotargeting because you’re controlling keywords and ad copy by geography, Enhanced Campaigns adds another layer of complexity. You’ll probably want to keep your location-specific campaigns in this case. Take a hard look at your goals before you decide to combine geotargeted campaigns into one Enhanced Campaign.

Bid Management Tools Are Still Catching Up

Enhanced Campaigns is a game-changer for the bid management software tools used by large advertisers. If you use a bid management tool, you’ll want to work closely with your vendor to make sure everything works the way you want it to when you make the switch to Enhanced Campaigns. Work with your tool provider to map out a plan that doesn’t jeopardize your ROI.

You May Need To Rethink Your Mobile Strategy

With legacy campaigns, advertisers could control not only the targeting of their ads, but also the budgets by device. Many advertisers set separate budgets for smartphones or tablets; these budgets were easy to manage with separate device-targeted campaigns. Enhanced Campaigns makes this much harder. Advertisers are holding out hope that the bid management tools will help take some of the manual work out of managing mobile budgets, but in the meantime, plan on significant extra time monitoring mobile spend.

Additional Resources for Further Reading

Melissa Mackey
Melissa Mackey
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  1. Alex Jones March 17, 2013 Reply

    awesome post, thanks for sharing

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