Adwords Newsflash: Enhanced Campaigns
On Wednesday 6th Feb at 8pm UK time, Google released an official blog post detailing significant changes that will be made to Adwords over the next few months. Whilst many of the changes are positive, some will require a change in advertiser strategy and one or two of the changes might be regarded as a step backwards.
These changes will be rolled out gradually, with the process expected to be complete by the end of June 2013. In this article we explore what the changes are and what they mean.
1. TARGETING: DEVICE TARGETING
What’s changing: Device targeting options. It will no longer be possible to target Tablet devices separately from desktop. These devices will be targeted together with combined bids.
Why: Google report that 80-85% of Tablet PC usage happens at home, indicating a convergence between desktop/laptop and Tablet devices. In other words, Tablet behaviour is starting to look a lot like desktop behaviour. In addition, the arrival of new devices (such as Windows Surface) is clouding the waters. It’s becoming more difficult to categorise devices in simple terms. Google believe that combining Tablets and Desktop into one single targeting option will benefit advertisers in terms of campaign simplicity and manageability.
What we think: The big statement here is that Tablet behaviour is starting to mirror desktop. This isn’t borne out by our own research yet though. We feel there are still clear differences in user behaviour – our Mobile Insight reports have found that compared to Desktop devices, Tablets;
- Are used later in the day (even taken to bed)
- Have higher conversion rates
- Deliver higher AOVs
- Respond more quickly to TV ads (due to their short power-up time)
Higher conversion rates and AOVs have led us to develop Tablet-specific strategies with great success. We agree that Tablets are no longer used only by affluent early adopters – cheaper Android and RIM powered devices have recently brought Tablet technology to a much wider audience, so the gap between desktop and Tablet AOVs may well diminish. We do believe however that conversion rates will continue to exceed desktop, since Tablet usage peaks in the evening hours when many searchers are most likely to convert.
2. TARGETING: OS TARGETING
What’s changing: Removal of OS and mobile carrier targeting options. It will not be possible to target ads specifically at Apple users.
Why: Carrier targeting has only been useful for a very small number of advertisers so removal of this function helps to simplify settings for the majority. OS targeting is being removed because Google anticipate that user behaviour will become homogenised. In other words iOS users won’t be exclusively associated with affluence (as they have been to date); conversion rates and AOVs from Android and BlackBerry OS devices are expected to fall in line with iOS.
What we think: There is still a difference in how different OS visitors perform and we have enjoyed success through targeting iOS, Android and BlackBerry users separately. This update removes our ability to fine tune bids and budgets for each operating system and our ability to write ads that speak specifically to users of each OS (for example by appending display URLs with “iPhone” or “BlackBerry” depending on the device).
There has been speculation recently that Apple will launch devices aimed at the budget end of the market. If this happens then we may well see homogenisation of behaviour across different operating systems. Until then however we will miss out on the ability to focus our marketing budgets towards the lucrative Apple audience.
3. BIDDING: BID MULTIPLIERS
What’s changing: Bid multipliers. This is a new feature. Most of us are familiar with advanced ad scheduling to increase bids according to time of day. Now it will be possible to use “stackable multipliers” for location and device too. Bid multipliers for time and location will range from -90% to +900%. Bid multipliers for device (Smartphone or non-Smartphone only; no Tablet options here) will range from -100% to +300%.
Why: It’s all about user context. Stackable bid multipliers will mean that bids can be increased or decreased according to several factors that may influence conversion rate. For example if your Adwords campaign promotes a restaurant with the goal of driving phone bookings, you will be able to automatically increase your bids if the searcher is in your area, and then increase your bid further if the searcher is also searching from a Smartphone.
What we think: Great feature. This will allow advertisers to bid more intelligently. It requires a thorough understanding of customer behaviour though – PPC managers will need to spend time investigating custom analytics reports to understand exactly how time, location and device influence conversion rate and value. PPC managers who prefer a low-touch approach may miss out on these benefits – the new options will reward those who spend time researching and understanding their audience behaviours.
4. AD MESSAGING: CUSTOMISED MESSAGES
What’s changing: Customised messages for Smartphones. It will now be possible to show mobile specific ads for mobile searchers. It will not be possible to create Smartphone-only campaigns though.
Why: This is part of the change to device targeting options. Smartphones will be targeted with the same campaigns
as desktop & Tablet devices. Customised ad messaging for Smartphones will ensure that ads can be fine-tuned for relevance to searcher device and intent.
What we think: We feel the removal of Smartphone-only campaigns might be a loss. We have adopted a best practice of separating our campaigns by device. This has enabled us to fine tune ad messaging, bids and budget management according to how each device performs for each keyword set. While the new bid multipliers will be able us to maintain mobile specific bids and customised messaging means we can keep our mobile-optimised ads, we’re still a little disappointed that we might lose the option to control daily budgets for mobile ads.
5. CAMPAIGN EXTENSIONS: SITELINK SCHEDULING
What’s changing: Scheduling for campaign extensions. It will be possible to schedule extensions to switch on and off at certain times of day or week.
Why: To give greater control to advertisers. For example a click-to-call ad extension is only useful during call centre opening hours. Advertisers will be able to schedule click-to-call to switch on when the call centre opens, then automatically switch over to Sitelink extensions when the call centre closes.
What we think: Brilliant. We have been hoping for this for ages! Previously it was necessary to use cloned campaigns separated by day parting settings to achieve this. Now we can simplify our account structures with no loss of functionality.
6. CAMPAIGN EXTENSIONS: UPGRADED SITELINKS
What’s changing: Upgraded Sitelinks. Sitelinks will now be approved and reported on individually, rather than as a group. Sitelinks will be available at Ad group level as well as Campaign level.
Why: This change brings greater insight into Sitelink performance – performance metrics will be visible for each individual Sitelink meaning that the effects of even the smallest edits can be measured accurately. Individual approvals for Sitelinks are an added bonus – this means that you will not lose all of your Sitelinks and the associated CTR benefits if one Sitelink is disapproved.
What we think: Brilliant – the additional insight into performance will make testing and optimisation much easier. Ad group level Sitelinks will be nice to have but don’t add anything that couldn’t be achieved previously. The improved reporting features are the big win here.
7. TRACKING & REPORTING: CALLS & APP DOWNLOADS
What’s changing: Improved reporting options for calls & app downloads
Why: Like the improved Sitelink reporting, this will mean improved performance measurement leading to actionable insights.
What we think: Great – more insight is always better.
8. TRACKING & REPORTING: CROSS DEVICE TRACKING
What’s changing: Cross Device Tracking is here!
Why: Due to cookie laws advertisers have been working blindfold when it comes to understanding how different devices interact in the user path-to-conversion. Cross device tracking only measures users who are logged in to a Google account.
What we think: This is a momentous advance for marketers. Previously we could only guesstimate the impact of mobile campaigns on Tablet and desktop campaign performance. This advancement will provide meaningful data to support multi-device strategies. We estimate that approximately 30% of all Google searches occur from logged in users – this means that the available data volumes should be statistically significant and therefore actionable. We’re very excited about this!
9. TRACKING & REPORTING: CALL CONVERSION TRACKING
What’s changing: Call extensions and tracking. There will be no more charges for call handling, conversion tracking will be added to Adwords call forwarding (so if a call lasts more than, say, 5 minutes then a conversion can be recorded) and there will be an option to display your own number instead of the Adwords call forwarding number.
Why: This change makes billing simpler and provides an indication of ROAS for call campaigns. Changes to the displayed call-forwarding number address advertiser concerns about customer confusion.
What we think: Another positive development. Mobile searches are already accounting for 40-50% of clicks in some sectors. These changes help to improve insight and optimisations for call campaigns.
Adwords editor and the Adwords API are due to be upgraded to accommodate the changes at launch. Google have also mentioned that tools will be made available to help advertisers to consolidate the existing segmented Desktop, Tablet and Mobile campaigns. The changes are significant though – advertisers will need to reconsider existing strategies and adjust their approach in light of both the new and the retired functions.
We recommend a period of careful testing before migrating fully to the new settings – make sure you fully understand the implications of the changes to your account before migrating. Savvy advertisers who can adapt quickly will reap the rewards!