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19 June 2013 - 9:32am | posted by | 0 comments

Have search pros been short changed? Google Enhanced Campaigns in practice

Ben O'NeilBen O'Neil

Now it has had time to bed in, what are the pros and cons of Google Enhanced Campaigns? Ben O’Neil, search manager at 7thingsmedia, wonders whether the updates in AdWords have left search professionals short changed.

In February, Enhanced Campaigns (Google’s latest AdWords update) was the hot conversational topic for all Search professionals. To say it wasn’t initially welcomed with open arms is an understatement. Google’s colourful marketing spiel outlined the benefit of “Marketing for a constantly connected world”, and whilst this wasn’t denied by search marketers, many failed to see how they hadn’t just lost a considerable amount of their control.

The main difference with Enhanced Campaigns was the loss of device specific campaigns, with new Mobile Bid Adjustments implemented in order to control mobile expenditure. Upgraded Site Links, bringing scheduling and individual performance reporting to the table, Location Bid Adjustments and mobile specific Ad and Site Link copy completed the Enhanced Campaigns arsenal.

Initially many marketers were unhappy with the loss of ability to manage separate Mobile and Tablet campaigns, commenting that whilst search behaviours may be similar between Tablet and Desktop, buying patterns were not. Recent research on Econsultancy has suggested that Tablet AOVs can be as much as 21 per cent higher than desktops and more than double that of mobile devices. While this meant increased simplicity for account management, some search experts, which excel on optimisation through granular management, felt rather short changed.

Whereas the actual steps to upgrade an AdWords campaign can be completed in seconds, sophisticated accounts could potentially take days to analyse properly in order to ensure efficient switch over - potentially with no guaranteed performance benefit. Analysing historical data and fitting this in with the percentage mechanism of Bid Adjustments is no speedy task, and without visibility of competitors’ management of the same process, all the meticulous preparation could be rendered useless.

Bid Adjustments were then tasked with controlling mobile spend, but many disliked the lack of individual device budget management. What if there was value in being number one within “browsing” hours on mobile devices as a beneficial part of the purchase funnel? Bid Adjustments were likely to force down the position in order to control overall spend without the ability to implement a mobile budget.

In Practice

However, let’s face it: many account managers are creatures of habit and used to the day-to-day management of accounts. The true impact can only really be seen in practice, and even Google couldn’t really guarantee many of the perceived benefits would come to fruition.

It was common opinion that less experienced marketers might fail to realise the importance of the Bid Adjustments, which could initially drive up Mobile CPCs. However, in reality we have seen Mobile CPCs to be on average 65 per cent lower than desktop and tablet, whilst proving to be easier to gain high ad positions.

Furthermore, in terms of device targeting, in practice we do see that tablet and desktop being combined has not proved the ideal set up for an efficient account. For one 7thingsmedia client, whose campaigns were our first to Enhance, we saw in May that the cost to acquire a customer was on average 60 per cent higher on tablet than on desktop, and Ad Positions happened to be in higher positions than desktop. However with tablet only accounting for less than a quarter of desktop transactions, we could not afford to lower bids and disrupt the desktop performance.

The granular tracking of Site Link performance was initially something many were pessimistic about in terms of value. Some elements of copy, such as free delivery details or free gift with purchase, don’t necessarily lend themselves to a direct click through. However, the value of them being present as a selling point can’t be questioned. For some promotions, this enhancement has proved indispensable. A number of the agency’s accounts have seen a huge difference in performance between promotions, which has helped us to squeeze incremental performance especially from clients’ brand campaigns.

If the importance of Site Link performance is going to prove a fundamental tool, then Google is going to have to improve the usability. The lack of Site Link management in Adwords Editor is a huge oversight, especially bearing in mind the current awkward set up to manage them in the interface. Being able to change the detail in one go for campaigns using the same Site Link is very helpful, however there needs to be a search functionality to find a link, especially as the number naturally increases over time.

Location Bid Adjustments will also prove a great advancement in terms of improved competitiveness, especially for clients with a bricks and mortar presence. Being able to increase Ad Positioning on generics in areas of increased brand awareness, should provide great leverage over competitors lacking such a benefit. This has also aided us in terms of understanding buyer demographics and being able to apply this knowledge to our bidding mechanism. For example, the information that one client has a great value per customer in locations close to golf courses is something we can now capitalise on through Bid Adjustments.

Summary

Overall, Enhanced Campaigns definitely includes some great advancements that can improve workload, as well as give new tools to improve the granular efficiencies of AdWords campaigns. However, in practice some areas have proved quite inefficient to manage, and without the full integration of Adwords Editor, the ability to capitalise fully remains somewhat stifled. It will be interesting to see the next steps Google takes to progress Enhanced Campaigns and allow us to utilise the improvements fully in our on-going strategies.

Ben O’Neil is search manager at 7thingsmedia

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