The time has come, Google said,
to talk of many changes:
of the end of a desktop and mobile divide -
of campaigns catching up with the ages.
The deadline to switch to enhanced campaigns is just around the corner. After July 22nd Google will take over and begin automatically upgrading AdWords accounts.
When first launched, enhanced campaigns faced reluctant criticism from the world of search engine marketing. However, now that marketers have had a few months to adapt to the platform revamp, was the initial skepticism simply due to fear of the unknown? Now that the time has come to transition to enhanced campaigns – whether we like it or not – has it become something to be embraced with open arms… or just endured?
Flashback to February when Google first introduced enhanced campaigns. What was proposed: “a first step to help you more simply and smartly manage your ad campaigns in today’s multi-device world,” according to Google’s blog. What was interpreted by most: A loss of control over campaigns, and the unwanted stress of switching over existing accounts.
Arguments Against Enhanced Campaigns
The criticisms made by the anti-enhanced campaigns primarily focused on four central flaws to the “upgrade”:
Loss of Control
Account managers’ loss of control in terms of not being able to segregate mobile, desktop, and tablet campaigns. Maintaining a divide between devices allowed for campaigns’ design to be catered specifically to their designated device in every way, from ad copy to the keywords selected. Without this segmentation we have to use one approach for all queries with no regard for what we know about characteristics of different device use. To be fair, Google is granting us the ability to bid adjust mobile bids based on an increased or decreased percentage of the desktop/tablet bid. But in the world of PPC where granularity is king, they had to know this is basically the antithesis of what we would like to see.
Lack of Distinction
Amalgamating desktops and tablets as one, with no possibility for distinction. As was mentioned, mobile bids can be influenced in enhanced campaigns by applying a percentage bid adjustment according to your campaign’s mobile performance – Mobile’s doing better than desktop? +30% bid. Mobile’s not keeping up with desktop? -20% bid. And so forth. What we can’t do is control bidding for tablets. At all. Although the interface provides the isolated metrics of tablets and desktops so we can compare the two, there’s nothing we can do to change bids accordingly. A bit of a tease isn’t it?
Rise in Cost-Per-Click
The unavoidable rise in CPC that will occur when bidding for tablets and mobile. Argued to be the hidden agenda fuelling the creation of enhanced campaigns, Google is leveraging the toll that increased mobile use (and desktop search decline) has taken on bid pricing. That is, mobile is increasingly overshadowing desktop as the device leader for queries, however CPC pricing has not been reflective of this as mobile cost remains cheaper. By combining devices once mobile does catch up to an “appropriate” price point, it will be averaged out with desktop resulting in an overall higher cost.
Lacking in Functionality
Some general shortcomings in functionality still lacking. Namely the big disappointment here is the inability to set daily budgets per device. Now that all devices are being combined, being able to at least dictate daily spend for each would be greatly beneficial. Additionally, being able to set monthly budgets would be a huge bonus. How many clients say they want to spend $20 per day on their advertising? No one. We think in months, and then calculate what that translates to on a daily level to set our budget. What if we could set an overall monthly budget we want to reach, on top of a daily budget that would be used as a guideline. If accounts aren’t hitting the daily budget so they are in a position to meet the monthly spend, Google’s overspend percentage could adjust accordingly.
Fast-forward to present day, after we’ve all had time to adjust and test the “enhanced” waters. At this point, have the new features generated a fan following in their own right? Are the new benefits enough to make up for what was lost with the end of legacy campaigns?
Arguments in Favour of Enhanced Campaigns
Geo-targeting Bid Adjustments
Praise for this feature has been pretty unanimous. Seen as one of the best things to come from enhanced, we love the ability to bid adjust for different locations according to specific performance. This feature is also unquestionably beneficial for streamlining accounts and minimizing the number of necessary campaigns.
The ability to set sitelinks at the ad group level is definitely favourable. Ads can now be far more targeted than was ever possible with the campaign-level, blanket extensions from the legacy days. Furthermore, with the recent update that allows for the copy of sitelinks’ description fields to be uniquely crafted, our ability to control the effectiveness of sitelinks is better than ever. If you’re still a non-believer in the impact sitelinks can have on a campaign, this case study analyzes an account’s performance to determine if sitelinks have the potential power to improve CTR and conversions. Spoiler alert: they do!
Mobile Call Conversion Tracking
This product of enhanced campaigns allows for mobile phone calls to be credited as a conversion, thus effectively appealing to the ever-growing mobile market. The advanced reporting attached to the tracking is highly beneficial as it allows account managers to specify the length of a call necessary to justify a conversion. With this reporting feature, monitoring conversions achieves optimal accuracy, and helpful insights into a campaign are provided.
Ease of Transitioning
And when it comes down to it, upgrading really isn’t so bad. If nothing else, it can certainly be said that Google was very conscious of the “it’ll be too stressful to transition” argument made by so many. They went to great lengths to make the switch as pain-free as possible. Helpful tools include the new Upgrade Center in AdWords, frequent how-to emails popping up in our inboxes, a plethora of online instructional guides, and not to mention numerous helpful bloggers providing detailed breakdowns and upgrading tips. Even if you still feel it’s a nuisance, you have to admit that they’ve at least made it a very well explained nuisance, right?
That being said, just because some marketers have taken the plunge into enhanced early does not necessarily mean the new features have been well received. Hanapin’s “What One Million Dollars in Spend Has Taught Us About Enhanced Campaigns” case study offers insight into their experiences with enhanced campaigns. The first line summarizes it well: “Enhanced campaigns are as bad as we feared.”
On the other hand, some great success stories have also been reported. An Inside AdWords blog post boasts instances of increased CTR, conversion rates, and impressive sales growth for various companies as a result of enhanced campaigns.
All in all, both legacy and enhanced campaigns are deserving of their own pros and cons in the embrace vs. endure debate – what are your thoughts?