Google Enhanced Campaigns and Bid Vectors: Switch Now or Later?

Google’s Enhanced Campaigns were announced last week, and this week you may well have received an email from Google explaining the transition from the existing campaign structures to the “new and improved” Enhanced Campaigns.

In the email to advertisers, Google explained that: “All new campaigns that you create will be enhanced campaigns by default, but you can choose the older campaign style for a few more months. Starting in June 2013, we plan to upgrade all AdWords campaigns to enhanced campaigns. You can log in and begin upgrading your existing campaigns now to take advantage of the useful improvements.” Therefore, if you received the email, you have the option to start the transition immediately.

Opinions differ within the industry as to whether the new campaign structure and the “features” will be a positive or a negative for advertisers – the answer is of course, “It depends.” For example, I recently discussed the issue with folks at a retail marketing conference. Hugo Guzman, senior manager, online marketing at HSN, believes search marketers should be proactive about Enhanced Campaigns and stated: “I think it’s an opportunity to innovate and get a leg up on competitors by figuring out how to work in that new campaign structure environment as soon as it becomes available (as opposed to waiting until it’s mandatory later this year).”

Other advertisers and agencies are concerned because – as Google indicated in its email messages and on its post – “Enhanced campaigns with search ads will no longer support targeting by devices or wireless carriers. Campaigns running only display ads will continue to support targeting specific device models and wireless carriers.” You’ll still have an opportunity to adjust bids based on a bid modifier percentage off of your base bid. The bid modification percentages can be positive or negative up to 100 percent negative (essentially turned off). However, not all the campaign settings you’ve been used to are up for grabs. One of the ways of thinking about the percentage boosts and percentage negative modifiers is as a bid vector that points the final bid in the optimal direction.

While some marketers may want to be early adopters of the new campaign structure, style, and methods, others would be wise to work on their sites before proceeding with Enhanced Campaigns. To assist you in making the decision as to whether to embrace Enhanced Campaigns and bid vectors early, converting existing campaigns to the new system, or wait, I’ve isolated several key factors below. However, even if several of these factors suggest you wait till campaigns are switched over in June, I do recommend setting up a new campaign or several new campaigns to start learning and experimenting with the new Enhanced Campaigns system.

  1. Flash in campaign landing pages. Because tablets are going to be folded into the desktop/laptop category and because the largest installed base of tablets continues to be the iPad, it has become even more critical that you eliminate Flash used in important areas of your landing pages. If it will take you a few months to review your use of Flash and replace it with HTML5 or other file formats, I suggest you get started.
  2. Significant differences in conversion on tablet visitors. Under the new scheme, you’ll be bidding the same for tablet clicks as you are for desktop clicks. If the clicks from tablets don’t convert as well, then procrastinating and delaying the switch will be better.
  3. You currently land tablet users on separate landing pages. If you’ve built landing pages specifically for tablets because the conversion rate, conversion quality, or conversion value (shopping cart size, for example) is better with specific optimized static pages, then waiting allows you to harvest more of that investment.
  4. You’ve got an adaptive design web launch in the hopper. Adaptive design is a way of personalizing the user experience based on her browser and OS (and possibly based on other cookie-based or IP-based information.) This will help a single landing page URL provide a custom experience to users. If this is launching soon for your company, perhaps it’s a good idea to wait.

There are additional reasons to consider and I may craft a follow-up column on those. In the meantime as you explore the new campaign style, one thing that is important to understand is the way in which multiple bid modifiers interact, because the example given by Google indicates that the modifiers act like compound interest. The example given is:

Say you’ve set a $1 Max CPC ad group bid. You decide to add a +20% adjustment for California, and -50% adjustment for Saturdays. Your resulting bid for a search that occurs in California on a Saturday will be $0.60. Here’s the math:

Starting bid: $1
California adjustment: $1 x (+20%) = $1.20
Saturday adjustment: $1.20 x (-50%) = $0.60
Resulting bid for searches in California on Saturday: $0.60

Therefore, don’t think about modifiers all modifying the base bid by a fixed number, because in the above example the impact of one modifier alone (numerically) is different depending on whether or not other modifiers exist. Think about it as changing percentages.

Related reading

Screenshot shows a Google search for outdoor grills, the shopping ads shows images with “in store” showing the product is available nearby.