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March 26, 2013

A Pro’s Guide to Google’s New ‘Enhanced Campaigns’ Adwords Interface

Google rolled out an update to their AdWords system that affects every advertiser across the board. Google is calling this update ‘Enhanced Campaigns’ and it was launched this month with the PR spin of allowing businesses to stay connected  on the growing myriad of devices users are suddenly leveraging within their daily lives. See Google’s video advertisement for this upgrade to their system below:

The fact is, mobile devices have outgrown desktop use and that translates to more mobile searches (ie: Smartphones, tablets, iPods, etc.).

“In fact, a recent study, of multi-device consumers found that 90 percent move sequentially between several screens to accomplish a task.”

Google’s business model is based around monetizing searches done on their system and, since mobile searches are dramatically growing, ads within those systems need to grow with them. A study by Marin Software also supports the growing number of mobile searches here.


The issue is that many advertisers (the average small to medium business owners) haven’t embraced the importance of mobile campaigns and the savvy PPC managers have. This means less competition on the keyword level for higher converting keywords and less money for Google. The value of being able to really target your audience with mobile only campaigns is huge … or was I should say.

So, what’s Google’s solution to this issue? Opt every AdWords user into a platform on the same level, dumb down the level of control advertisers have in the name of ease of use and try to sugarcoat it with some new reports and a couple positive features tossed in.

Don’t get us wrong — this can be great from a novice PPC user’s perspective because it broadens your reach without any real hard work on your part. You may pay a little more, but you’ll see a better return on the investment. Here’s a quote from Google’s announcement of this update to give you an idea of how they’re catering to the average user:

“With enhanced campaigns, instead of having to cobble together and compare several separate campaigns, reports and ad extensions to do this, the pizza restaurant can easily manage all of this in one single place. Enhanced campaigns help you reach people with the right ads, based on their context like location, time of day and device type, across all devices without having to set up and manage several separate campaigns.” 


However, for serious PPC marketers, this update sucks because you’ve just lost the ability to hyper focus your PPC campaigns. So, what can you do to get your previous control back?

Nothing. Google is going to push you into the system like it or not this summer, so let’s skip the part where we talk about how upset the PPC agencies are and tell you what you need to know going forward.

Changes You Need to Be Aware of

• Mobile Only Campaigns are Gone but they’re ‘Easier’ to Manage — As we mentioned above, going forward, any keyword you want to run on mobile also has to run on desktops. However, you can still create desktop only campaigns by marking mobile campaigns with the bid modifier of -100 percent, you just can’t do the same with your desktop campaigns. Like we said, they’ve simplified things and in turn removed a lot of the advanced usability.

Contextual Ads will be created that gives Google the ability to serve the ads to users based on their device at their leisure. To include mobile devices within your contextual ads you will just need to click a checkbox.


• Creating Ads — Yes, you can create different ad types within the same campaign to target different device types within Enhanced Campaigns. Here’s a direct quote from Google’s Help Forum regarding this issue within Enhanced Campaigns:

How ads work with enhanced campaigns
Let’s say your ad group contains both a standard text ad and a mobile-optimized text ad, which is an ad for which you’ve set the ‘device preference’ setting to ‘mobile.’ On mobile devices, your mobile-optimized text ad will be given preference over standard text ads. On desktop or laptop computers and tablets, your standard text ad will be given preference over mobile-optimized text ads.

It’s important to note that if your ad group contains only mobile-optimized text ads (which we don’t recommend), those ads may appear on desktop or laptop computers as well as tablets.

A mobile-optimized ad will only be given preference over other ads of the same type. Text ads, dynamic search ads, product listing ads, specialized-searched ads, WAP mobile ads, and ads that can run only on the display network are considered different ad types.
Here’s an example to give you an idea of when standard ads will be shown versus mobile-optimized ads.

Let’s say you create a campaign to promote your women’s clothing boutique in San Francisco and your online store. In a single campaign, you can create ads with headlines, messages and landing pages that are tailored to customers searching on their mobile device for women’s clothing stores in San Francisco. At the same time, you can create ads that will appeal to people who want to shop for women’s clothes on their desktop or laptop computer or tablet device. Then, you can choose to show your mobile-optimized ads to customers when they’re viewing them on a mobile device.”

• Understanding Your New Bid Adjuster — In the past, your campaigns supported bid adjustments based on time of day. Going forward, you’ll have new options that include location as well as device. The idea is that instead of having separate campaigns for location and mobile you can do both within the same campaign.

One of the ways this is helpful is because you can now bid more for mobile traffic the closer they are to your location when you wouldn’t do the same for people on a desktop. Keep a close eye on this and adjust as needed because this type of bid is no longer automatically adjusted. Larry Kim of Wordstream, explained it best here.

“One thing you will need to do when migrating to the new enhanced campaigns is set your mobile bid adjustment factor to specify how much more or less you’d like to bid for mobile searches. The range is between -100 and 300 percent.”

For location, time or day metrics or any ad group level targeting, bid adjustments can be set from -90 percent to +900 percent. It’s only for mobile device targeting that you can set bids from -100 percent (which says you want only desktop) to +300 percent (you will pay three times more than the base bid).


• New Display AdWords Campaigns Targeting — Under ‘enhanced,’ there are now new bid adjustments users can bring forth in their ads. You can target by gender, user, interest, age as well as regular placements.

• Digital Download Tracking — There are now new ways for AdWords customers under ‘enhanced’ to track digital downloads (app downloads as conversions), offline redemptions (in-store purchases through ad extensions, coming soon).

• Cross Device Conversion Metrics — Google also plans to roll out cross-device conversion metrics, meaning that it will allow users to see and track conversions that start on one device and finish on another. This has to do with analyzing logged-in Google user data from Chrome and other Google products. More information on this is expected to come out soon.

• Cost Per Clicks (CPCs) for Mobile Will Go Up — As we explained above, the sudden flood of advertisers into the mobile space will automatically increase the CPCs. If you’re used to targeting mobile only campaigns then don’t upgrade until you have to and until then leverage those mobile only campaigns while you still can.

• Advanced Call Metrics and Reporting is Now Free — Google has some helpful advanced call reporting features available to advertisers. Some features include the ability to see what phone numbers called, when, and how long the telephone call lasted. In the past, they charged a hefty fee of $1 per call to track the above behaviors but are including that into the system for free going forward (yay!).


• Improved Sitelink Targeting — In the past, when you created site links you did not receive performance data specific to each link — instead you were given data on the group of links as a whole. Going forward, you’ll receive data on each link specifically as well as the performance of the ad when that specific site link was shown.


To Upgrade Now or Not

This decision really depends on what type of user you are. You should consider upgrading now if you are:

• Doing little to no mobile targeting — The major updates to this system mostly revolve around your ability to target mobile and tablet users.

• Having a hard time managing your geographic bidding — The new system allows you to quickly target different regions within the same campaign.

• Using ad extensions aggressively — In the past ad extensions were at the campaign level only and within the new system you can manage most extensions at the campaign or ad group level. Site links, for example, can now be designated as mobile-preferred and you can go so far as to set up ad scheduling for them. There are exceptions to this such as social extensions are still campaign only.

When Not to Upgrade

If none of the above apply to you or if some of the below do then you will need to weigh your choices and decide to upgrade or wait it out. However, don’t let the shiny new toys urge you into opting into this system until you’re prepared. Learn what you need to know so that you don’t miss a beat this summer when you get pushed into this new system.

• Mobile Only Accounts — It’s common place to have mobile only campaigns that are local-based businesses focusing on pushing phone calls. If this is the case with your campaigns, then hold your ground and for now continue leveraging those laser targeted campaigns that you’ve grown to love because this is going away.

• Sites Optimized Specifically for Mobile Users — Since this new system has taken away your ability to target mobile only users, then you want to hang on to the old system as long as you can. In the new system you will have to come up with a strategy to handle potential desktop users who click your ads as well.

• Campaigns with Dramatic Differences in Desktop Versus Tablet Conversions — If you’re managing multiple campaigns then you know there will be times when one type of campaign converts well on desktop and terribly with tablets and vice versa. If this is the case for you, then hold off on switching to the system because you will no longer be able to differentiate between the two within your campaigns including within your bid adjustments. You will need to come up with a strategy to blend your tablet/mobile and desktop campaigns in a way that allows you to be successful making your bids.

• Smartphone Apps — For now, you can target users specifically by the device they’re on (iOS or Android). That ability is going away with this switch and being replaced with contextual ads. This means if you’re specifically targeting Android users with your product then you will have to pay for both user types to click your ads regardless of the fact that you can’t convert iOS traffic.

Understand Your Campaigns’ Upgrade Path

In our research we found many sources covering this latest change with AdWords, one of those was from Larry Kim of Wordstream, who laid out the path your campaigns will take during the upgrade so well we are quoting it below.

Depending on the current state of your campaigns, here’s what your upgrade path will look like:

• If you’re like the vast majority of advertisers and you never bothered with separating your campaigns into different experiences for desktop versus mobile then you’re in luck.! Your upgrade path is pretty straightforward. You just need to set your mobile bid adjustment factor.

• If you’ve previously created a desktop-only campaign, then by default it will be upgraded to run across both desktop and mobile devices, and Google will automatically set a non-zero initial mobile bid adjustment factor on your behalf.

• If you’ve previously created a mobile-only campaign, then by default it will be upgraded to go across mobile and desktop, and they’ll set an initial bid adjustment factor for you.

• If you had previously made copies of the same campaign — one for desktop, and one for mobile — then you’ll need to merge those back together into one.

Google also has a few very helpful videos laying out the details. The first is How to Merge to Campaigns into one Enhanced Campaign, the second video is How to upgrade a Single Campaign to an Enhanced Campaign.

Additional Reading & Resources

• Enhanced campaigns upgrade guide — Get step-by-step instructions on how to upgrade your existing AdWords campaigns to enhanced campaigns.

Learn with Google Webinars — Here’s a comprehensive list of Webinars that Google has put together to support your transition to their new system.

AdWords Help Center — Get detailed information about specific features in enhanced campaigns.

Enhanced campaigns upgrade guide — Get step-by-step instructions on how to upgrade your existing AdWords campaigns to enhanced campaigns.

AdWords Blog — Read the latest articles and news on enhanced campaigns.

Some Final Takeaways

This is going to be a lot of work for advertisers before, during and after the conversion. Short term, these changes are expected to substantially drive up average mobile CPC. However, many experts in the industry feel that in time this will “eventually” improve long-term ROI since the new tracking features are more robust. Only time will tell on that one.

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