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Google Search PPC

Adding up the cost of AdWords: Search marketers from Starcom MediaVest, iProspect and LBi share their insights

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By Jessica Davies, News Editor

March 15, 2013 | 7 min read

In the wake of Google's AdWords overhaul, The Drum speaks to search industry experts to establish the impact of the rollout on PPC in the coming months.

Last month saw Google overhaul AdWords to cater for cross-device search. The global update is aimed at helping marketers hone paid search targeting across multiple devices, while letting them adjust bids according to device type, location and time of day.Using bid adjustments, marketers 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 includes features such as ads optimised for various user contexts. This means marketers can run ads across devices with the right ad text, site link, app or ad extension without having to manually edit each campaign separately. 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 e-commerce 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 let 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. The move marks one of the internet giant’s biggest changes to AdWords to date and agencies believe it is a game changer. However, although there are multiple benefits, there are major drawbacks that agencies are seriously concerned will have ramifications on search strategies, client investment and drive up mobile cost-per-clicks (CPCs). Oscar Romero, search strategy director, Starcom MediaVest Group This announcement is a game changer and its effects will be seen in the coming months. It brings advantages to PPC teams via simpler campaign set-up and more time for optimisation but also disadvantages. From a granular device approach, we are moving to a holistic search view that can impact how clients invest and report on PPC performance. With a deadline of June, technology providers are working hard on incorporating enhanced campaign capabilities in their interfaces. While waiting, it leaves agencies limited in their ability to test enhanced campaigns where bid technologies are used. We have conducted several controlled tests on campaigns which are not currently using bid technologies in the e-commerce vertical and using branded keywords only. By enhancing and thereby expanding to mobiles, we found a marginal impact on traffic volumes only. However, by migrating campaigns we did see inflation, specifically in tablet CPCs, of approximately 40 per cent. This is to be expected in the context of effectively starting from scratch on tablets with regards to quality score. This initial foray into enhanced campaigns demonstrates the CPC volatility that will erupt in the marketplace over the coming months. As more advertisers opt in, not only will there be more competition across all devices, but advertisers that merge legacy single device campaigns might see increased CPCs – this fact needs to be incorporated into budget planning. PPC has historically been one of the most cost effective channels in the digital mix but the impact of enhanced campaigns could deliver a change in the search paradigm. Marketers may need to re-evaluate investment levels in this channel once the impact of enhanced campaigns is understood. Adrian Cutler,
head of performance products and global clients, EMEA, iProspectThere is no doubt the amount of time saved for campaign set-up and cross-device reporting will be of great benefit. However, we currently have to train clients on the changes Enhanced Campaigns bring. It
is great that the wider media world has recognised the impact this will bring and is looking to search professionals to explain the features in detail. This ultimately will mean a smoother integration between traditional ATL media and search.One of the key features is treating tablet and desktop as one. Tablet devices are taking an ever increasing share of the search volume in mature markets, as the experience is similar to a desktop, so it makes sense to club these together. The tablet auction does work differently to desktop search as there is no side targeting. This puts greater importance on the top three positions, meaning the auction for high-volume terms has an impact on the overall CPC for desktop/tablet targeting.Google has allowed a workaround for opting out of mobile targeting, which is crucial if a client does not currently have the capability to target mobile. You can ‘opt out’ of mobile by reducing the mobile bid by 100 per cent. The option to run mobile-only campaigns is not possible as the bid base is on desktop/tablet therefore clients that only produce apps now have to target desktop/tablet.At first we expected the impact of not being able to target by device to be a concern for telecoms that would want to target specific devices. However, we are now getting an increase in requests from other verticals as they want to understand the mobile consumer better. I would expect this to be a feature request to Google from a multitude of search practitioners as clients become more mobile savvy and roll out mobile-ready sites.Andrew Girdwood, head of media innovation, LBiI’m just back from SES London, a busy search conference, and heard plenty of worried mutterings about Enhanced Campaigns. Advertisers who have been buying plenty of cheap mobile traffic in favour of more expensive desktop traffic worry that costs will climb. In my experience clients seem to accept that Google will make big changes. Big changes are part of the fluid search landscape. As a result, where we need to restructure campaigns we’re allowed to just get on with it. Restructuring is needed in many cases as previously it often made sense to separate out mobile from desktop and now such a structure is impossible and pointless. We had seen the cost-per-click of tablet target rising sharply. We can only speculate whether it would have exceeded desktop costs but in some sectors it certainly felt possible. Given that Google now treats desktop and tablet the same, there may be a few campaigns in which Enhanced Campaigns will actually help to reduce CPC inflation. Initial use of the location and device targeting along with scheduling is both promising and frustrating. Its promise is in the potential; this feels like a good way to run future-proofed campaigns. The frustration is around the need to do more with the first wave of tools Google’s made available. The fact that the first iteration of Enhanced Campaigns seems to leave the door open for some basic optimisation is good news for third-party bid management solutions. There’s still value in bid management. The biggest cost so far with Enhanced Campaigns has been in time and roadmaps. Projects have had to be pushed back in order to find the time to convert campaigns over to the new system. This feature is published as part of The Drum's search supplement, which is available for subscribers to download.Buy the full 24 page report nowThe supplement was published in partnership with Marin Software.
Google Search PPC

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