Advertisers unhappy with the change have tried to create a workaround that allows them to split their smartphone traffic into separate campaigns, but it is difficult to manage and the benefits are negligible.
For the past several months the paid search world has been in an uproar because of Enhanced Campaigns. While Google's revisions to the AdWords platform offer many new and fantastic features, these features have often been overshadowed by the controversial "device unification" changes, which require advertisers to combine desktop, tablet, and smartphone strategies into the same AdWords campaign. Many advertisers who are unhappy with the change have attempted to create a workaround that allows them to split their smartphone traffic into separate campaigns. While this workaround has been proven to work, it is difficult to manage long term and the benefits are pretty negligible.
The trick to "break" Enhanced Campaigns and segment smartphone traffic into separate campaigns is easy to set up.
At this point you have two copies of each keyword running. The desktop/tablet campaign is completely opted out of mobile (a standard option in Enhanced Campaigns), so when a smartphone searcher triggers an ad it's guaranteed to come from your mobile campaign. When a user on a desktop or tablet searches one of your keywords, both copies of the keyword are eligible to show - but the version in your desktop/tablet campaign has a higher bid, and thus it is used the vast majority of the time. In our testing of this solution we found that desktop/tablet traffic initially triggers the mobile campaign less than 2 percent of the time, and as the keywords build history the segmentation settles in almost completely. So the solution works.
But before implementing this strategy, advertisers should take a minute to ask themselves why they're so desperate to "beat the system" and segment smartphone traffic into separate campaigns. The separate campaigns approach has long been a best practice for several reasons, most of which have been incorporated into Enhanced Campaigns updates Google has rolled out over the past few months:
The only major missing element in Enhanced Campaigns is the ability to specify budget allocation between devices - and this is where the above trick stops working. If the desktop/tablet campaigns are restricted by a daily budget cap, this creates a situation where that version of the keyword sometimes doesn't participate in the AdWords auction to "block" the mobile copy of the keyword from serving ads to other devices. When this happens, the mobile version of the keyword will be triggered for some tablet and desktop searchers, and advertisers will start seeing traffic from these other devices in their mobile campaigns. While you can use campaign budget caps to limit spend on smartphones with this strategy, restricting budget on the desktop/tablet campaigns causes the solution to break.
An even larger drawback to this strategy becomes clear over time. In order for this solution to work, advertisers must maintain the gap between bids for both copies of each keyword; when the bid for one version of the keyword is changed, the other must be adjusted as well. While there's some wiggle room and advertisers don't have to maintain the exact difference suggested above, any reduction in the delta between the mobile keyword's bid and the desktop/tablet keyword's bid increases the chances that the mobile version will appear on desktop and tablet searches. No matter what bidding solution an advertiser is employing, this is added work.
While it is entirely possible to completely segment smartphone traffic in Enhanced Campaigns, in my opinion the few benefits of this strategy don't outweigh the limitations and extra management needed to keep it functioning in on an ongoing basis.
On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!
Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!
A recognized leader in the digital marketing space, Jeremy Hull keeps iProspect's bought media teams on the forefront of new technology and industry developments.
A passionate champion for digital advertisers, he strategically gains clients placement in many alpha and beta tests with search, display media, and tracking partners. The search engines rely on Hull's insightful analysis and feedback to improve developments like Google's Enhanced Campaigns and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). Hull provides paid search strategy for all iProspect teams in the United States, and also collaborates with iProspect offices around the globe. A regular speaker at tradeshows such as SES, SMX, and Advertising Week, he has also written articles for Search Engine Watch, ClickZ, Wired Innovation Insights, MediaPost, SES Magazine, the annual Internet Retailer Search Marketing Guide, and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal. In 2013 Hull was inducted into the ClickZ Digital Marketing Hall of Fame.
Over the past nine years, Hull has provided campaign analysis and strategic direction to iProspect clients including General Motors, adidas, Neiman Marcus, The Gap, Hilton Worldwide, Cole Haan, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Timberland, and many other leading brands. He was instrumental in taking Nike's successful domestic online marketing campaigns international with Nike EMEA. One would be hard-pressed to find an iProspect client that Hull has not worked with.
Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.
Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.
June 10, 2015
12:00pm ET/9:00am PT