Pros & Cons of Enhanced PPC Campaigns

Written by: Drew Lyon   Austin, Texas

Posted on: July 29, 2013

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You may have heard…July 22nd was Google’s deadline for switching all Adwords campaigns from “legacy” to “enhanced.” If you didn’t “upgrade” your PPC campaigns before that date, Google would do it for you.

Google has since backed off from this hard deadline, saying that July 22nd marked the start of a “gradual rollout” across all campaigns that have yet to be upgraded. Regardless, it won’t be long before every campaign in Google’s roughly 8 million Adwords accounts becomes an enhanced campaign.

What does this change mean for businesses?

Google says enhanced campaigns “help you reach potential customers more easily and effectively in the constantly connected world.” The last part of that statement is key. Google wants more accounts to take advantage of “constantly connected,” i.e. mobile, advertising.

To that end, all enhanced campaigns now target desktop, tablet, and mobile users by default. As a matter of fact, enhanced campaigns DO NOT allow advertisers to turn off mobile ads, only to apply “mobile bid modifiers.”

Introducing “Bid Modifiers”

Google proposes you control how campaign dollars are divvied up by using “bid modifiers.” For example, if you are really interested in reaching mobile users, you can set your mobile bid modifier as high as +300%. This will result in higher placement for mobile keywords and an increase in mobile impressions and click-throughs.

Conversely, if you are less interested in advertising on mobile devices, you may set your mobile bid modifier as low as -100%. A modifier of -100% will reduce the likelihood of your ads showing up on mobile devices, but it will not stop them altogether. Which brings us to the first drawback of enhanced campaigns.

CON: No Mobile-Specific Keyword Bidding

Under the bid modifier system advertisers can only control mobile bidding on a global level. Because mobile and desktop ads are lumped into the same campaign, there is no option to set a keyword bid that applies exclusively to mobile ads. You still set the max bids for individual keywords, but MAX CPC applies to both desktop and mobile searches.

This limitation has forced some mobile-heavy advertisers to create new ad groups containing as few as one or two keywords—the only way for them to have full control over bid prices for their most important mobile keywords.

Unfortunately, this workaround goes against Google’s primary selling point for enhanced campaigns—being that they provide users a simpler, more streamlined Adwords experience.

PRO: Streamlined Adwords Experience

The way Google sees it enhanced campaigns allow users to manage mobile and desktop ads, as well as apply geographic targeting and day-parting (running ads only during certain hours), all within one campaign—resulting in fewer campaigns and a tighter Adwords experience overall. For the most part, this is true.

No longer do you have to create a new campaign every time you wish to adjust spending in Houston, Texas, for example. This can be done instead by applying a geographic bid modifier. Most advertisers should welcome these new controls.

Other Differences

Since mobile ads are now baked into enhanced campaigns, you will want to make sure to take advantage of a new option to set “mobile-preferred” ads. You may also want to consider consolidating some of your search campaigns and using bid modifiers to target different geographic locations. Ultimately, this should give most Adwords users less to manage going forward.

Bottom Line

Google wants its all-in-one enhanced campaigns to lower the barrier of entry for new Adwords users. And it does. Getting ads up and running across multiple platforms is easier than it’s ever been. However, simplicity often comes at a cost.

Some advertisers have noticed they’re spending more per click, and worse yet, more per acquisition since switching to enhanced campaigns. This is something to keep a close eye on going forward as Google continues to tweak the platform. We expect the numbers will even out over time as people learn the best ways to implement enhanced campaigns. Remember, these are still the early days of what amounts to a fairly dramatic platform shift.

Because the change is not optional, it’s something that advertisers will either have to adapt to or abandon Adwords altogether. So far, in our opinion, the changes do not seem to warrant anyone leaving the platform.

Google is proactively reacting to what we’re all seeing: very strong growth in the mobile search market. Time will tell whether this strategy most benefits advertisers, Google users, Google’s bottom line, or everyone.

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