Google’s Enhanced Campaigns Require Desktop Traffic. What Does This Mean for Marketers?

Google's Enhanced Campaigns Require Desktop Traffic. What Does This Mean for Marketers?Google has announced the release of “enhanced campaigns” in its AdWords interface which adds some nifty features such as bidding by location, enhanced site links and integrated app download reporting.

The most controversial change, however, is also its largest. AdWords is replacing current concepts around mobile-only or desktop-only campaigns.  Advertisers now will have a single campaign for desktop, tablet and mobile.  There are options to modify bid prices by devices, but the new limitations effectively allow advertisers to have desktop-only campaigns, but not mobile-only campaigns.  In other words, if advertisers want to be in mobile, they must participate in desktop and tablet.  Google plans to sunset the existing campaign structures in June.

There are several reasons why this will be frustrating for marketers:

  • Historically, AdWords product development has been predicated on increased flexibility for marketers: by device, by time, by site and by placement.  Google has recommended mobile-only campaigns due to different keywords that consumers use when searching from their phone.  By eliminating the ability to make certain keywords “mobile-only”, it has reduced that flexibility for marketers.
  • There are certain businesses and products, more suited to mobile consumers, which will suffer from being a part of the desktop auction. Google’s changes accommodate for the most obvious example, mobile application downloads, making an exception to their rules in this case.

But there are countless others as well, such as ads for towing services which may not be able to perform on desktop. Being forced into both mobile and desktop, as Jim Edwards notes in his Business Insider piece today, “will have the effect of lumping demand together across devices, and raising prices overall.”

Having said that, there are some big opportunities at hand:

  • If there was any doubt that mobile is the future of revenue and opportunity in the advertising business, consider that doubt erased.  By requiring all campaigns to be displayed on mobile phones, mobile is no longer the passenger for revenue and margins, but the driver.
  • Marketers will be required to think more deeply about mobile use cases, cross-channel measurement and attribution.  Google’s research has shown that the most popular outcome of a local search is a phone call.  Embracing call analytics solutions to effectively track the ROI of offline response to digital actions will be essential to optimizing campaigns.  Similarly, I expect there to be increased focus on understanding in-store visits from mobile devices.

But isn’t the real question who wins and who loses from this change?

The winners will be companies that are incentivized around advertiser ROI, and have expertise in both analytics and media.

As for the others?  With the inevitable rise in mobile CPCs, those who are unable to take into account performance across *all* devices and outcomes will be challenged.

John Busby
VP, Marchex Institute

John Busby leads the Marchex Institute, a research and analytics team that publishes findings on mobile advertising and the growing digital call advertising industry. The Marchex Institute also provides custom research and consulting services for customers on their mobile and call-ready advertising campaigns. Previously, Mr. Busby served as Vice President, Product Engineering at Marchex. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.

Posted in Data, Marchex Institute, Performance Advertising

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