Google Enhanced Campaigns: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

by James Glick on Thursday 7 February 2013

Yesterday, Google announced some significant changes to their AdWords marketing platform.


The search giant is launching new powerful targeting options for advertisers that will improve the way potential customers can be targeted depending on the device they’re using, where they are and the time of day when they’re searching. In addition, they’re also introducing new tracking functionality that will allow conversions to be more accurately tied back to online marketing spend.


However, not all the changes are positive, as Google is taking away some established functionality. They’ll also require some adjustments to be made to existing AdWords campaigns in order for the new features to be leveraged successfully.


We’ve scrutinised details of the incoming changes and compiled our top five favourite new features, and our five biggest concerns.


Forward3D’s Five Favourite Features


Device, location and time bid modifiers allow advertisers to upweight and downweight how much they pay depending on how valuable a potential customer is to them. A percentage increase or decrease can be applied to the basic keyword bid for each of these factors if a Google user meets the criteria an advertiser defines.


For example, do you have a better-than-average conversion rate from users in Manchester? Increase bids by 20% for people in that location. Find that users who visit between 2pm and 4pm browse rather than buy? Choose to pay 15% less for a click during this time.


The system is extremely flexible, and even allows multiple modifiers to be applied at once. Adopting a test-and-learn approach could lead to the creation of incremental revenue opportunities that were not previously possible.



The ability to track logged-in Google users across multiple devices. This means that if a customer clicks on a paid search ad on their mobile device then completes a transaction on a laptop, the sale will be attributed back to the mobile click.


This functionality will provide greater insights into how sales are being driven enabling budgets to be shifted towards keywords that are acting as a catalyst for sales.



AdExtensions can be configured to be automatically switched on and off based on the time of day. This is set to be especially useful for advertisers who use call extensions who can now set them to stop showing outside of call centre’s opening hours.



Call Metrics, which are used to track users who call a phone number displayed as a call extension in PPC ads, will be made free as well as the conversion metrics being made configurable by the length of the call. The current minimum charge of $1.00/1.00 to the advertiser when a user calls a trackable number displayed in desktop, laptop and tablet PPC ads will be removed.



Disruptions in any industry are often positive in the long term. This occurrence in Paid Search will drive advertisers and agencies to re-evaluate their approach to ensure their adapting efficiently as well as avoiding being left behind by competitors.


Forward3D’s Five Biggest Concerns


Whilst bids are set at keyword-level as usual, modifiers are applied a campaign-level only. Consequently, campaigns ideally need to contain as few keywords as possible in order to allow for granular device, location and time-based bidding strategies. This is a major structural change, and rebuilding campaigns in such a way may require significant time investment.


There will be no immediate integration of new AdWords functionality with third party campaign management or reporting solutions. Advertisers who are reliant on these platforms won’t be able to take advantage of the new features until these systems have been updated, which may take weeks or months.


It will not be possible to target campaigns only at mobile devices. All campaigns will target laptops/desktops by default, with a mobile modifier applied to upweight/downweight bids accordingly. A partial workaround for this will be to set a low desktop bid with a high mobile upweight, but campaigns will never be able to completely opted out of being eligible to show on desktop/laptop devices.


Google has merged tablet targeting with desktops/laptops, meaning that users of iPads and Android Tablets can neither be specifically targeted nor have tablet-specific bid multipliers applied to them. They’ve also removed all granular mobile device targeting options, meaning it will no longer be possible to target users specifically by mobile OS, device or network.


Google are ending their practise of discounting mobile bids automatically. As a consequence, we’re expecting to see CPC inflation on mobile activity after the change as advertisers are moved away from paying a discounted mobile CPC.


Our Thoughts

Although the changes introduced present some short-term challenges, we feel these are outweighed by opportunities that they will bring.


Google is making advertisers think more around behaviours rather than just users, ensuring device, location and time become part of agencies’ ongoing paid search advertising strategies. The simplified methodology for managing these variables allows for a great degree of experimentation and bid refinement and we will relish the challenge to test and learn within this new set of rules.


There may be initial opportunities for the swift adoption of optimisation techniques to put advertisers ahead of the competition. However, the loss of granular device targeting and the requirement to restructure campaigns in order to benefit most from the changes may mean it’s wise to postpone the implementation or perform initial testing on a small subset of activity.


We think the changes will cause a shift in mindset in the industry, encouraging agencies think outside of the search box by asking questions such as “where are consumers?” “what device are they using?” and “what time of day is it?”. This will result in advertisers building up a picture of multiple behaviours in a single consumer rather than adopting one size fits all approach.


In short, this is a positive move by Google, and despite the loss of some existing functionality, gives greater optimization opportunities and better tracking abilities which will help drive the industry forward.