June 3, 2013, 3:23 PM

Enhanced Campaigns…four months later

A new report analyzes Google’s February updates to AdWords.

Lead Photo

Google Inc. in February unveiled Enhanced Campaigns—a strategy, Google said, to help retailers customize ads across many devices and for other variables such as time of day and location in a single AdWords account. A new report says the Google service is paying off for advertisers trying it, though some remained concern that they now pay the higher desktop prices for ads that appear on tablets, rather than the lower per-click fees they previously paid.

With Enhanced Campaigns, instead of having to cobble together and compare several separate campaigns, reports and ad extensions, advertisers now can manage them all in one spot.

For example, a coffee shop might want to show one ad to someone located a mile from the café searching for ‘latte’ at 7:30 a.m. on her smartphone (perhaps offering a coupon and the option to click to call the shop) and a different ad to a consumer searching ‘café’s serving food’ at 8 p.m. from a PC (perhaps a link to the menu and an option to order online). Signals like location, time of day, and the capabilities of the devices consumers are using have become increasingly important in presenting the right ad, Google says, in explaining the reasoning behind Enhanced Campaigns.

A new report from search engine marketing firm iProspect takes a closer look at Enhanced Campaigns four months after the launch.

The firm says the update is a step in the right direction. “Prior to Enhanced Campaigns, marketers fell into one of two categories,” the report notes. “Many advertisers opted not to serve ads on smartphones and tablets, either because they didn’t have the ability to manage complex accounts and saw devices as an easy element to eliminate or because their web site didn’t provide a good user experience on those devices. More advanced advertisers targeted each device separately. This allowed for detailed strategy but with the trade-off of making their accounts much larger and more difficult to manage.”

While the second scenario is better, iProspect says Google realized many advertisers weren’t taking that route because of the time and complexity involved in managing several campaigns. What’s more, the rising popularity of tablets added a third type of device and more complexity to managing targeted AdWords campaigns. Enhanced Campaigns, iProspect says, is a smart and helpful attempt by Google to keep advertisers from having to create new campaigns, by allowing advertisers to adjust their ads based on the device the consumer is using, location and time of day, all in one account.

Since the launch of Enhanced Campaigns, Google has taken some steps to improve the offering. One includes the ability for advertisers to create special landing pages for ads on smartphones.  When first announced, Google took the stance that it was the responsibility of the web site to provide proper redirects or for smartphone users or to design their web sites using responsive techniques that adapt the site to the device the visitor is using. Google still believes in this responsive design philosophy but recognizes that many advertisers will not have redesigned their web sites using this approach by the time Enhanced Campaigns becomes mandatory in the next couple of months. Responsive design uses one set of web content and one code base to create a single site that renders differently to fit the screens of desktops, tablets, smartphones and other web-enabled devices.

In the report, iProspect also notes concerns some of its advertiser clients have had about the program in that it removes the ability to separate ads on tablets. Google now lumps tablets with desktop. Tablet cost-per-click has historically been lower than desktop because of less bidding competition on tablets. This cost benefit vanishes with Enhanced Campaigns.

The report also notes that while Enhanced Campaigns enables advertisers to more easily opt in to smartphone advertising, the mobile bid adjustment process can be confusing as there are fewer ads on smartphones and competition is now increasing for the coveted top two spots. 

Clients of iProspect that switched to Enhanced Campaigns have had varying results, the report says. For example, one client that switched over in mid-February experienced a 7% increase in cost-per-click for one week after it switched over before settling back down to previous levels. At the same time, however, the client’s overall paid search click-through rate and traffic nearly doubled. In that case, the client expanded advertising to tablets, which drove a large boost in traffic with minimal impact on overall cost-per-click.

Another client that transitioned on May 1 experienced a 9% rise in cost-per-click, which was on par with overall cost-per-click rises around that time period, the report says. However the rise in cost was offset by a 10% increase in traffic and an 18% increase in revenue from paid search.

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