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Google upgrades AdWords to help marketers better manage multi-device campaigns


By Jessica Davies, News Editor

February 6, 2013 | 4 min read

Google is rolling out an AdWords upgrade aimed at helping marketers hone paid-search targeting across multiple devices, while letting them adjust bids for ads according to device type, location and time of day.

The search giant has launched the upgrade, called Enhanced Campaigns, globally to help marketers keep pace with the rapid proliferation of mobile devices and the increasingly complex, multichannel consumer journey.

The move means marketers can adjust keyword bids depending on three core variables: location, time of day and device type.

For example, using bid adjustments they can bid 25 per cent higher for people searching a half-mile away, 20 per cent lower for searches after 11am and 50 per cent higher for searches on smartphones. These bid adjustments can apply to all ads and keywords in one single campaign for the first time.

The upgrade, which marks one of the biggest changes to AdWords to date, also includes features such as ads optimised for various user contexts. This means marketers can run ads across devices with the right ad text, sitelink, app or ad extension without having to manually edit each campaign separately for different devices, locations and time of day.

It also means marketers can tap-into consumers searching behaviour regardless of which device they are using and manage their ad experience accordingly. So someone searching via a desktop can be sent an ad for a brand’s ecommerce site, whereas someone searching on a smartphone could be sent a click-to-call ad and location extensions, all within the same campaign.

It will also provide advanced reports, which lets marketers count calls and app downloads as conversions within AdWords reports. This includes being able to count phone calls of 60 seconds or longer that derive from a click-to-call as a conversion, and then compare them to other conversions including leads, sales and downloads.

Adrian Cutler, head of performance products and global clients, EMEA at iProspect, said the rollout will “fundamentally change” how marketers operate, while providing a way to target according to an individual’s particular environment and device in a more seamless, less intrusive way.

“It will save a huge amount of time and will give us a clearer picture of cross device reporting meaning we can think about attribution in a way not previously possible, and this level of attribution is the holy grail for marketers,” he said.

“The world as a whole hasn’t moved as fast as consumers have and this will give the market a spur and help businesses develop more mobile-centric approaches,” he added.

Tom Cull, director of search and social, Carat, agrees the upgrade will help marketers refine attribution and budget allocation. “The cross device reporting and attribution will provide a huge step forward in allowing brands to assign the correct value to their search marketing pounds and help further refine strategies to ensure we accurately map search activity to consumer behaviour,” he said.

However, agencies have pointed out there are some downsides to the upgrade such as the fact Google will merge tablet and desktop targeting options. This means removing the ability for separate treatments for these devices, and allowing only varied targeting against mobile devices; moving to a big screen v small screen model, according to Cull.

“Google has done this as it predicts consumers will use tablets in the same way as they use desktops and laptops. While this is certainly a trend we are starting to see we can still observe variances in response and conversion patterns on tablet devices when compared to desktop traffic. Until consumers genuinely do use tablets and desktops in the same way, brands may see a slight downturn in some areas of performance as we lose the ability to split out tablets,” he said.

Cutler says the current iteration does not allow for targeting to individual handsets, something that was previously possible. “This could impact the telecoms verticals as before they were able to target individual handsets dependent on what that user’s purchasing patterns had been on that specific device,” he said.

However, he believes it is possible it will be introduced for further iterations of the product.

The rollout does not currently incorporate AdWords for Video nor does it extend to Google TV, but some agencies are confident in time it will extend enhanced campaigns to these additional mediums.


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