Google has announced an update to its advertising model that will formally usher all of its advertisers into the mobile era. The new Enhanced Campaigns will bring mobile to the masses in a manner that will help resource-strapped small businesses, but will pose challenges for larger, more sophisticated search marketers in their perpetual quest for granularity, transparency and associated ROI.
As a trend, most Google advances (Universal Search, Google+ and others) have rewarded sophisticated search advertisers by delivering solutions that hold new opportunities for those leveraging superior technology, targeting and talent. Google has established a reputation for creating innovations that benefit the upper echelon of advertisers, and for lifting search from the top down rather than focusing on the challenges faced by smaller advertisers. Enhanced Campaigns, however, take away some of the bidding, device and structural granularity that has established AdWords as the dominant search advertising platform among large-scale advertisers.
The good news is that sophisticated marketers have been optimizing their campaigns for mobile devices for quite some time. Advertisers that have positioned themselves ahead of the pack – those having already established and tested mobile strategies for bidding and optimization – will need to identify new approaches for meeting their goals within a new environment.
* With Enhanced Campaigns, Google is forcing mobile adoption on all advertisers. The recent update is a clear play to bring less-sophisticated advertisers to the next level. For smaller advertisers, Enhanced Campaigns will simplify the process of running on mobile devices, which to date has been complex and technical, and allow them to more easily scale their campaigns beyond PC-based paid search. For larger advertisers not yet investing in mobile, the announcement serves as a mandate that mobile is too big of an opportunity to miss. For large advertisers that are ahead of the curve when it comes to mobile, this announcement may be viewed with disappointment. Historically, Google has been synonymous with granularity – after all, the QS (Quality Score) metric at the heart of the algorithm is all about rewarding all parties for the best ad match to the right user, right device and right time. Enhanced Campaigns seems out of step with this mantra.
* The single-campaign format will lead to a loss of some targeting and control – at least in the short term. Since advertisers will no longer be able to create granular campaign segments for PC/Laptop, mobile and tablet, they will need to incorporate and test new methods for optimizing across devices within the singular Enhanced Campaigns format. For luxury retailers and advertisers whose research has clearly demonstrated that tablet users have different demographic, consumption and behavior patterns, this is a net negative in the near term as tablets are no longer broken out as unique targeting options.
* The auction will get more heated, with a probable rise in mobile CPCs. There likely will be more net mobile competition and less net granularity, which theoretically will be a recipe for increased mobile CPCs. On the consumer side of the coin, it is reasonable to assume that the mobile ad experience will improve. By taking control of where certain ads are displayed, Google will be able to use its data to decipher “good” mobile experiences from “bad” ones. For example, insight into bounce rate or other metrics will allow Google to re-assign poorly optimized mobile ads to the desktop.
When Google announces any change to AdWords, it’s news. And when the change is a major one – as is the case here as it represents a significant shift in its view of search – it is huge news. The following report outlines the update and implications for sophisticated AdWords advertisers.
Hank Beaver, Group Media Director – Search Media Operations at 360i, contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: This report was updated from its original version.