Google’s Enhanced Campaigns: What We’ve Seen So Far

Although roughly a month behind its initial target launch date, Google officially rolled out the highly anticipated Enhanced Campaigns update to AdWords on July 22, 2013. When the announcement was made back in February that Enhanced Campaigns would be coming, it was quickly recognized as a pretty seismic shift for advertisers seeking to connect with their target audiences online.

In a world that is becoming increasingly on-the-go, with 90 percent of people using multiple screens sequentially to accomplish a task and 98 percent of those moving between devices that same day (according to the Google/Ipsos August 2012 study, “Understanding Cross Platform Consumer Behavior”), technology has kept up and followed suit. It allows people to stay even more connected when moving from device to device as they shop, communicate with others, or kill some free time entertaining themselves. Prior to the Enhanced Campaigns rollout, marketers had to devise a variety of campaigns using different KPIs in order to potentially stay in front of the same consumers regardless of where, how, or when they were searching. With this in mind, Google’s push to launch Enhanced Campaigns has been presented as a means for making tracking, measuring, and reporting in AdWords easier for marketers and agencies, but it has also been met with a variety of opinions both before and after the so-called “D-Day” of July 22.

The majority of the pre-rollout uproar focused on many advertisers’ and agencies’ displeasure with the notion of “device unification”; combining previously separate strategies for desktop, tablet, and smartphones into a single, unified AdWords campaign. Many in this group are particularly unhappy with the fact that Enhanced Campaigns no longer allows them to segment smartphone traffic that is, by nature, more locally focused and presents key opportunities for specific targeting and messaging, along with different goals. For example, an advertiser may have an online retail presence and a physical retail location, so targeting the physical store requires optimization to elements like “locate now/get driving directions,” while a national online campaign is looking for ROAS opportunities. In some cases, workarounds have even been suggested as a means for “breaking” Enhanced Campaigns in order to continue segmenting this same traffic, but these methods certainly have their flaws.

While we don’t necessarily recommend attempting to usurp the AdWords update, we have observed some overlooked aspects since the launch:

  1. Make sure all the settings are identical. If you had search intent on previously, keep it on. If you had close variants on before, make sure that’s still on.
  2. Take advantage of the ad group level ad extensions and bid adjustments where it makes sense.
  3. If you had geo-targeted campaigns, be sure to triple-check all of your settings to make sure the new Enhanced Campaign lines up with previous targeting parameters.
  4. Double-check all of your negative keywords and work with your Google rep to request a negative keyword conflict report to make sure you are not blocking any terms that you were previously live on.
  5. Remember that, in Enhanced Campaigns, site links dropped to 25 characters, so if you did not change the length of your legacy site links to these new parameters they won’t be approved.
  6. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, then it is wise to either eliminate smartphones from your campaigns or use the “click-to-call only” feature.

Although a number of advertisers have seen poor results since Enhanced Campaigns rolled out, and we even encountered a few hiccups of our own like lower click volume at the onset, we have also seen great improvements in CTRs and lower CPCs for many of our own clients in the local space, specifically. The key to future success lies in planning ahead for what appears to be Google’s push to scale Enhanced Campaigns. Google has adjusted to appropriately adapt down the road as individuals inevitably develop greater use of even more devices and pieces of technology that connect them to the world they live in more and more. As marketers, managing campaigns to a specific device will no longer be a feasible option.

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