Google’s Enhanced Campaigns: Improved Marketing, Time Savings or Money Grab?

With the promise of improved marketing on different devices, easier campaign management, and time savings, last week Google announced the launch of Enhanced Campaigns for Google AdWords.

According to Google Canada, Enhanced Campaigns are a “powerful set of tools that give you the ability to easily manage ads across locations, time and devices – all within a single campaign.” But is that the whole story or is this another Google tactic aimed at taking control away from agencies and advertisers while increasing their revenues from mobile devices? Let’s take a closer look.

We see three main trends leading to this change by Google.

The first being recognition that we live in a multi-screen world and there is an obvious need for marketers to be able to target consumers accurately across different devices. The second is that search volume from mobile devices has been growing exponentially in the past few years and is on track to surpass desktop & laptop searches within a year or two. The third is that the complexity of successfully managing multiple campaigns across different devices has hindered the adoption of mobile advertising on Google AdWords by the average agency and advertiser.

As such, Google was missing out on some serious revenues opportunities from mobile marketing, until now.

So how will this affect advertisers? In our opinion, advertisers will be forced to relinquish some control over how they target users across different devices, and will surely end up paying more for every click. Advertisers will no longer be able to target tablet users separately as they will now be amalgamated with desktops and laptops. This diminishes our ability to measure ROI across devices. And, because tablets are now being rolled into desktop and laptop targeting, competition will increase and, with more demand, so will costs per click. This will create higher costs per acquisition, and lower returns on advertising spend. With the automated upgrade plan of all campaigns to the Enhanced type this summer, chances are hundreds, if not thousands, of advertisers will be caught off guard and will be automatically switched to all devices. This will cause mobile CPCs to skyrocket, thereby making even Google richer as we all pay more for a mobile click.

But is the news really all bad? In spite of all the negativity swirling around the annoucement, there is a lot for advertisers to like about Enhanced Campaigns, especially for medium and small businesses.

To begin with, this Google move will make it easier for small and medium advertisers to target users across different devices and allow them to take advantage of the growth in mobile usage. The new bid adjustment options by location and device will provide flexibility and granularity to savvy marketers who are used to devising location and device-specific bid strategies. Additionally advertisers will now be able to manage, modify and customize ads for desktop and mobile within a single campaign. This should help them save time and resources.

Finally, advertisers will be able to set ad-specific extensions to appear only during certain times of the day or days of the week, and to manage and customize individual site links.

But is all this really new and ground-breaking? For the average advertiser or agency, perhaps. For the rest of us, that is not the case.

At Media Experts, splitting campaigns by device type and using different strategies for each has been a standard best practice since those features were made available by Google.  Our experience managing large, complex campaigns across multiple devices for a variety of Canadian brands confirms that users behave differently on different screens. For example, we have learned that keyword searches are broader and shorter on both tablets and smart phones. As such, our keyword selection varies by device. We also know that there are fewer competitors bidding on tablets and smart phones and that resulting CPCs are much lower. As such, we always make sure that, whenever possible, we adjust our bid strategies on tablets and smart phones to extract maximum value and increase ROI. This is a no-brainer for us but also part of Google’s reasoning behind Enhanced Campaigns.

The problem is that Google is doing this because they can, and both advertisers and agencies have no choice but to comply.

What do YOU think? Please post your comments below.