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It has been a few months since Google introduced its Enhanced Campaigns, which gave marketers a new way of managing their paid search campaigns.
The focus of the change is to enable advertisers to target people at the right time, in the right place, with the right advert and call-to-action. Effectively, the structuring of Adwords campaigns is becoming device independent, removing the ability to have specific mobile, tablet or desktop targeted campaigns.
Up to now PPC managers have had the choice of whether or not they want to switch over to the new system, although the change will become compulsory in a few months.
1. What are the main benefits that you’ve encountered in switching over to Enhanced Campaigns?
Jasdeep Mondae, search manager at SMV Group
The primary benefit is convenience. With several large multi-national accounts, reducing account size by two-thirds helps save time.
The team can now spend more time optimising rather than implementing multiple device campaigns. The whole process from keywords research, bid and budget management, search query mining and reporting is now more streamlined.
For sure there is a learning curve for adapting to the new settings of enhanced campaigns but in the long run there is more time for optimising our client's accounts.
Alistair Dent, head of PPC at Periscopix
In most cases the simplicity of account structure is much easier, making campaigns more straightforward to administrate.
A PPC manager’s time is always more productive when analysing data and optimising campaigns, rather than triplicating work across device-specific campaigns.
Pete Whitmarsh, head of PPC at The Search Laboratory
Across various campaigns that we have transitioned to Enhanced so far, we’ve found Google has made the process of upgrading very straightforward to implement, and the mobile and location-based bid adjustments are extremely intuitive.
It’s very easy to run a location-based performance report and apply a few quick bid adjustments to the better-performing areas.
Mobile (or tablet) specific campaigns have sometimes been considered the poor cousins to the ‘main’ desktop campaigns and unlikely to get as much dedicated attention, as naturally time is focused more on the higher-traffic areas.
With Enhanced Campaigns there is no danger of mobile being left behind.
We also like the new ad extension options, such as the long-awaited ad group-level sitelinks, ad extension scheduling, and the free phone extensions on desktop.
Luke Judge, sales and marketing director at Net Media Planet
Firstly, it’s important to mention that we are still the process of transitioning our campaigns over to the new structure. However, from what we have seen so far, I would say that the benefits include:
- The ability to alter max bids in areas of high or low GP/CR/ROI by location without the need to split out by campaign. For advertisers, particularly those with brick and mortar locations, this represents a real enhancement in geo-targeting.
- The ability to schedule extensions to appear on certain days or at specific times. For example, this will allow advertisers to promote offers or sales through sitelinks for the sale period only.
- Individual sitelink level statistics and disapproval reports will make it much easier for advertisers to optimise sitelinks based on CTR (or CR). For example, advertisers will be able to identify which sitelink is working best, and which ones are ineffective and make changes accordingly.
- New conversion types have been added, which include ‘Calls’ and ‘App downloads’. We think this is a great development for advertisers who have struggled to monitor this activity in the past.
- The introduction of adgroup level sitelinks is another promising development, as now advertisers will be able to add context to sitelinks by being able to refer more specifically to the product / service that is being promoted in the advert.
2. What have been the main drawbacks and how have you overcome them?
Our primary concern is flexibility with budget. With a less granular account structure when it comes to devices, we cannot allocate spend to devices based on performance.
Part of this is a client education piece as there is a clear benefit of multi-device coverage but there could be inflation of efficiency metrics where there are underperforming device segments.
This is more challenging for direct response clients but is also accelerating client take up of mobile and tablet share of voice.
Not all keywords in a campaign deserve the same mobile-specific bid multiplier, so campaign structures have had to evolve to accommodate this.
Keywords with optimal multipliers above or below the typical level are split into new campaigns so that they can reflect that.
Although we’re really appreciating having ad group level sitelinks, we’re eager to see these supported by a future version of AdWords Editor – having to add them manually through the web interface is laborious and will hold people back from using them to their full potential for now.
The fact that Google has lumped tablets in with desktops seems like a major step backwards within an otherwise progressive set of changes. Despite what they may claim, tablet performance is often significantly different to desktop and it’s incredibly frustrating to be unable to use this knowledge.
We have already seen conversion costs rise in some campaigns because of this.
These are still early days for us. However one potential challenge that we see is that mobile bid adjustments can only be made at a campaign level, which means that it may not be possible to set optimal bids for mobile-specific targeting.
We see that there are two possible ways to overcome this challenge:
- We would suggest analysing the ratio of keyword level performance between desktop and mobile, and then grouping keywords into campaigns split by device according to the ratio where possible.
- Campaigns could be kept split by device by using a +300% mobile bid multiplier with a low standard max bid (which targets desktop as the default). Keeping the bid lower for the same keyword in the intended desktop campaign will ensure that mobile traffic is optimised through this process.
3. Have any best practices started to emerge in the way that you are running campaigns?
For a while now it has been best practice in mobile campaigns to actually use the word 'mobile' in ad copy.
This type of strategy needs to continue with Enhanced Campaigns as a method of pre-qualifying clicks. Unwanted clicks from a specific device could be used to prevent irrelevant clicks, e.g. 'tablet only app'.
Ultimately, testing is key. It is still very early days and bid technologies have just begun to release their Enhanced Campaign functionality. Over the next few months there will be multiple tests in terms of structure, ad copy, bids and budget across all of our accounts.
Enhanced Campaigns are a game-changer and we are re-thinking how we approach paid search strategy for each of our clients individually.
It’s still very early and there is plenty of time for best practices to become more evident.
So far the changes have mostly been about campaign management routines. Checking specific stats with regularity and reacting in appropriate ways, now that we have so much new information available.
Learning how not to go overboard when different multipliers (e.g. time of day and device) apply is key.
For campaigns that haven’t previously been run on mobile devices we’re tending to start with a rather conservative bid adjustment for mobile, for example around 50% for those on desktops.
We’re then adjusting these further once we’ve had enough data to get a clearer picture of the mobile conversion rates and costs.
We’re also having to bear in mind that since mobile bid adjustments must be set at the campaign-level, then mobile performance could end up dictating campaign structure.
If for example certain ad groups perform especially well (or poorly) on mobile, then they may need to go into separate campaigns to allow us to exercise more control over the adjustments. Hopefully ad group or keyword-level adjustments will come further down the line.
Though we’ve always considered sitelinks (and other extensions) to be a basic part of a campaign setup, the new options mean that more time and consideration is due to them.
Choosing the most appropriate ad group-level sitelinks will evolve to become a more integral part of the setup than the simple campaign-level ‘bolt-on’ that it was before.
Our thoughts on this are likely to change as we learn more about the impact of the new campaign structure. However, there are a couple of standout recommendations that include:
- Use the new ‘bid by location’ feature to further refine maximum bids in areas of high or low GP/CR/ROI.
- Use the new Adgroup level sitelinks to override campaign sitelinks on sub categories within campaigns to add further granularity to messaging.
- Use the new sitelinks scheduling features to enhance the user experience further. For example, schedule sitelinks to only promote a sale during the sale period, schedule call extensions to show only during call centre hours, and schedule mobile preference location extensions to show only during a shop’s opening hours.
4. How have clients reacted to the new way of managing campaigns?
While appreciating how consumers multi-screen, clients are concerned about the effect of Enhanced Campaigns on their investment in paid search.
Those deliberately excluding tablet and mobile coverage will now experience an inflation in costs or a reduction in share of voice. These metrics need to be balanced on a client-by-client basis to find the right solution for them where advertising spends are limited.
Our recommendation for clients is to allocate a contingency budget to account for any spend inflation and the effect of increased competition on CPCs, particularly for the second half of the year.
Clients need to be made aware that this is a large-scale marketplace change and so budgets and targets will likely need to be amended once we have actual data from Enhanced Campaigns.
We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from clients. There was trepidation at first but after it became clear how much account manager time would be freed up for more valuable tasks the positives are starting to become more clear.
A few clients had initial uncertainties after hearing about Enhanced Campaigns, but once we’ve been able to have the conversation with them ourselves and lay out the key new features, the benefits are pretty clear.
The more knowledgeable clients know that Google is constantly evolving so learn to just accept these kind of changes. So long as they have confidence in the agency managing their account then they shouldn’t be too worried.
From a client perspective, I would say that there is some concern about the potential impact that these changes will have on campaign performance, owing to the length of time it will take to transition campaigns over.
There is also some understandable nervousness about the anticipated inflation in CPCs as competition on mobile and tablet increases.
In addition, I think there is some slight concern on the targeting capabilities going forward, and in particular the ability to target consumers by device.
5. In the long-term, do you think that Enhanced Campaigns will prove to be a more efficient way of managing PPC campaigns?
Efficiency losses in terms of account CPCs are likely to be offset by time saving. With simplified set up and reporting, more resource can be allocated to add value to paid search accounts.
This should allow more tactical development of paid search strategies which will benefit our clients and their customers alike in the long run.
Well there’s no way things could have kept going as they were, that’s for sure. The complexity of managing separate campaigns for an increasingly converging set of devices was unsustainable. There are creases to be ironed out from Enhanced Campaigns but Google have a lot of time to get this right.
The more feedback they can receive the better and I’m sure AdWords will continue to evolve at the amazing pace we’ve come to expect.
Without question there were issues with the now legacy campaign structure, owing to the increasing complexity and volume of campaigns to separately target by device, geography, etc.
Campaigns had started to become increasingly unmanageable and there were noted inefficiencies in campaign management, such as updating ad copies.
The new single campaign structure is more efficient in that sense, but no less complex to ensure performance is being maximised.
The removal of the options to distinguish between desktop and tablet, and bid individually by keyword on mobile, currently outweigh the benefits gained in simplifying the campaign structure.
This is why we believe that many people in the industry are currently unhappy with these changes.
However if Google takes this feedback on board and brings in bid multipliers on an ad group/keyword level for mobile as well as tablet this would undoubtedly lead to improvements in campaign management efficiencies. We do think that the direction Google is moving in is both interesting and promising; however it will take time to adjust.
Ultimately, whether or not we like this change, it is the new reality. The changes will significantly impact the way paid search managers do their jobs and the way performance optimisation happens.