Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - March 2013
Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter, which covers news, tips and advice on effective website marketing techniques and trends.
In a special edition this month, we just focus on Google's recent introduction of a significant change to the AdWords advertising system, in the form of Enhanced Campaigns. We take a look at the details of these changes, the advantages and disadvantages and the best course of action to take.
You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subject. You can also follow us on Twitter for the latest developments during the month, or follow our Facebook page or Google+ page for updates.
On to this month's edition...
Google Introduces Enhanced AdWords Campaigns
During February, Google announced major changes to AdWords which will have a significant impact on the way the search advertising campaigns can be managed. The new changes - called Enhanced Campaigns - allow marketers to manage their search advertising across different devices with some increased flexibility for bid levels and other features. There are some clear advantages and disadvantages with these changes and we review these in this issue, along with our recommended course of action for anyone managing AdWords campaigns.
The new Enhanced Campaigns are available now, but there will be a transition period up until June this year, when all existing 'Legacy' campaigns will be converted to 'Enhanced'. It's therefore important for any AdWords campaigns to be converted over the next few months in a managed way to ensure the best process with limited impact on current advertising performance.
The following is a brief summary of the changes being introduced with Enhanced Campaigns:
- the use of separate mobile targeted campaigns will end, with mobile-specific bid adjustments now available at campaign level
- the ability to target specific mobile devices and carriers will be removed
- the ability to specifically target tablets will be removed and these devices will now be bundled with desktop campaigns
- advertisers will now be able to control ad extensions at the adgroup level
- ad scheduling will now be possible for sitelinks and mobile bids
- there will also be more targeting and bid options by geographic area.
These are therefore quite substantial changes that provide some better management tools, but also go against the advice that Google has been providing for the past few years. The Enhanced Campaigns are designed to simplify the management of AdWords across different devices, but for many existing campaigns that have been structured for device targeting, this will require some significant transitions to the new format.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Enhanced Campaigns
As we're now living in an 'always online', multi-device world, Google has recognised that this warrants a different approach by marketers to reach potential customers. So these new campaign enhancements will provide the ability to deliver different creative depending on whether people are mobile with their smartphone or at home with their tablet, without the inefficiency of having to manage multiple parallel campaigns to deal with these different situations.
Many of the new Enhanced features are powerful additions to AdWords campaign functionality, such as bid level adjustments, sitelinks management and new reporting features that will help advertisers develop effective paid search campaigns in a changing online marketplace. One strong feature will be the "upgraded extensions" that will make it possible to create these either at the campaign or at the adgroup level, with more control over when they appear - by device and by time of day - and more reporting insights to help improve the performance of these advert extensions.
Another advantage of the new campaigns will be the ability to bid differently on a variety of geographies within the same campaign. For example, a coffee shop might want to bid higher for potential mobile customers within a mile of their location, a little lower for those within five miles, and even lower for those further away. In the longer term, there will also be the ability to provide offers based on user location and also call tracking functionality within AdWords.
However, there are some disadvantages with these new changes. There is a widely held view that these upgrades will reduce the level of control that advertisers have over their campaigns. The changes will favour those advertisers running smaller and more basic marketing campaigns and reduce the level of control that many experienced AdWords managers are currently benefiting from.
Another complaint about the new changes is that it will no longer be possible to separate the bidding for tablets and desktop computers. This will stop some of the bargains that marketers were getting on tablet traffic. The types of click through rates can be similar on desktops and tablets but the conversion rates can vary significantly, so not being able to separate them could be detrimental, with a combined conversion rate.
The other main concern is the way that mobile bidding will change, and whether the bid adjustments will lead to higher mobile costs. At the moment, mobile clicks can run at 50% of desktop clicks for the same term, which has impacted Google's profits as mobile search grows. Cynics will say that the new bid structure will help to push these levels up now and Google will see the benefits - this will be closely monitored over the coming months to see what impact there will be on mobile costs.
There are arguments for and against upgrading campaigns to the enhanced format now. One of the reasons to postpone the changes for a time is if you have a large number of campaigns targeting different devices, then it would be necessary to prepare an upgrade plan and gradually merge these campaigns together. On the other hand, if the number of campaigns is fairly small and they are not too complex, then there is no reason to postpone the upgrade and to start taking advantage of the new changes.
The best solution would be to either create a new enhanced campaign and test the new features on a small scale, or to convert an existing campaign that currently targets all devices and to become familiar with the management and reporting tools before rolling out the changes to more of your managed campaigns. You can then start to develop new best practices for structuring accounts and campaigns, as well as testing different creatives.
This is the process we will be taking with our managed accounts, so that we test and learn the best practice with the new Enhanced Campaigns, before rolling out changes across all accounts prior to June. For large accounts, the AdWords Editor tool can now be used to manage the transition (make sure you have the latest version of this tool), and we will be keeping a close watch on the KPIs for campaigns before and after the transition to see where the main improvements or reductions in performance might occur. We will also be monitoring the extensive market commentary on these changes to see what experiences others are having with these changes as well.
If you currently manage your own AdWords campaigns and would like to receive Google's detailed documentation for converting existing campaigns, please get in touch and we can email this to you. If we are managing your account, we will contact you once the transition process begins and keep you informed of the impact of these changes.
If you require any further information on the Enhanced Campaigns and how the Web Marketing Workshop can help your online marketing activity, please contact us now.
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We hope you've found this month's newsletter useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.