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Google today announced a significant change to AdWords. Known as “Enhanced Campaigns” advertisers will now run the same — though conditionally governed — SEM campaigns across desktop, mobile and tablet.

Previously, advertisers were able to run separate campaigns across these devices, altering their bids and ad groups according to device-specific variances in anticipated search behavior and intent.

The new system essentially forces them into single campaigns that contain certain pre-set rules for when, where and to whom ads appear. This is meant to have a certain “one stop shop” appeal, while preserving some level of campaign customization.

According to the AdWords blog post announcing the new structure:

A breakfast cafe wants to reach people nearby searching for “coffee” or “breakfast” on a smartphone. Using bid adjustments, with three simple entries, they can bid 25% higher for people searching a half-mile away, 20% lower for searches after 11am, and 50% higher for searches on smartphones. These bid adjustments can apply to all ads and all keywords in one single campaign.

There’s a lot to this, which we’ll dissect in time but here are a few quick thoughts, and the promo video for Enhanced Campaigns is below:

— The move is generally fitting to an increasingly cloud based, cross-platform world where the path to purchase weaves in and out of  different screens

— It brings some simplicity to the moderately complex AdWords platform, but a certain degree of complexity is inherent and will always exist (a sliding scale between simplicity and customization).

— Part of the campaign customization per-device includes running click-to-call buttons, which complements mobile or proximity-oriented searches where buying intent is high.

— The new reporting construct will align with these options and allow advertisers to measure desired actions such as calls, app downloads, etc.

— This could be one way to reconcile lower mobile CPCs by having an all-in-one campaign that resolves to higher desktop CPCs. This will be revealed in time.

— In addition to setting SEM campaigns to “show up” based on the aforementioned situational factors (i.e., location), creative can likewise be customized towards these factors. This makes a lot of sense.

— Tablet-specific campaigns go away, with the thought that tablet user behavior is close to desktop (it is indeed closer to desktop than mobile, however evidence points to varied ad performance and CPCs).

— This could end up being an SMB-friendly play and it is certainly being painted as such.

— There is some sentiment from brands and more advanced AdWords users that this actually “dumbs down” their options for device-specific campaigns (representing one end of the “sliding scale” mentioned above).

Much more to come soon…

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