Google introduced ‘enhanced campaigns’ in February this year in what has been the biggest change to Adwords in recent history. Adwords Account managers like myself have until the end of June to upgrade their client’s account to this new system before all campaigns will be automatically upgraded in July.

Opinions over this upgrade are divided. So before it is enforced upon us, I’d like to explore how the new enhanced campaigns will either increase the return on paid ad spend, or be a potential pain in the Adwords.

Why the need for enhanced campaigns?

A shift in user’s search behaviour has been obvious in recent years; the massive increase in both smartphone and tablet use has meant users now have greater flexibility as to when, where and how they search. This became a challenge for advertisers, as optimising a campaign to target a user on the go on their mobile is completely different to targeting a user at home on their PC. Google recognised this and the introduction of enhanced campaigns aims to complement this shift in user behaviour and give advertisers more control over their accounts whilst delivering a better, more relevant experience for searchers.

This may sound like a win-win solution for both advertisers and users but from my experience the setup of enhanced campaigns is not all plain sailing and some of the changes advertisers are being forced into are not beneficial for all clients.

As I have now completed the upgrade across all of my client’s accounts, I thought I would share my thoughts and experiences and summarise what I feel the pros and cons of the new enhanced campaigns are.

The pros:

Account size is reduced

In order to maximise the effectiveness of targeting mobile and tablet users, account managers would previously have had to create separate campaigns with tailored settings. From experience, I know this led to tripling the size of accounts and the workload required to manage these additional campaigns!

Enhanced campaigns allow for accounts to be streamlined and the requirement to set up individual campaigns for tablet and mobile users is no longer required, nor possible. There is not as much control over mobile and tablet advertising as there was previously with the individual campaign approach but in time I think enhanced campaigns will catch up. In the meantime we can enjoy having more time to spend managing fewer campaigns.

Useful bid adjustments

This is one of the most useful features within enhanced campaigns. For example, clients who do not want their ads to show on mobiles because their site isn’t optimised for mobile can adjust the mobile bid to -100%. On the other hand for clients who rely heavily on mobile or are trying to improve their mobile ad position they could increase this bid.

There is also the ability to adjust bids for particular locations and for hours of the day and days of the week. If, for example, a company knew they had a better conversion rate on weekdays between 9am – 11am they could increase their bids during these periods to try and increase the volume of valuable visitors. Likewise, if they knew users in Birmingham had a higher average order value it would be beneficial to make an increased bid adjustment for this location.

Control over Ad Extensions

Ad extensions have always previously been set at campaign level. However there is now control over the majority of them at Ad Group level. This means advertisers can use different call extensions, offer extensions, sitelinks and app extensions for each ad group which can vastly improve the relevancy with the associated ads and keywords.

I have found the ability to set sitelinks at Ad Group level particularly useful, previously setting them at campaign level meant Ad Groups would need to be tightly themed in order for the sitelinks to be relevant to all ads. There are also a few additional settings with the enhanced sitelinks such as adding scheduling and creating mobile-preferred variations. This means you can run limited time promotions, for example, as sitelinks and show mobile users sitelinks that may be more relevant to them when they are on the go.

Improved conversion tracking

With enhanced campaigns we have seen the introduction of new conversion tracking capabilities. The call forwarding feature has been upgraded and now has the functionality to record a call as a conversion.

You even have control over how many seconds the call needs to be for it to be categorised as a conversion. Digital downloads are another conversion that can now be tracked so advertisers with ads promoting the download of Apps on Android or iOS can now measure their success more accurately. ‘Call on-site’ is the other conversion that has been added, it enables the tracking of clickable phone numbers on mobile sites and is readily available after adding a small piece of code to the page.

The cons

It’s not a 5 minute job

Whilst very small Adwords accounts can be upgraded within minutes, the larger ones with numerous campaigns and more complex targeting can take much, much longer. If you want to take full advantage of the new enhanced campaign settings available – providing they are relevant to your client of course – you should expect this to take anywhere from a few hours to a few days!

The initial upgrade takes just a few clicks as all you have to do is set a mobile bid adjustment but it is the optional enhancements you can make after this that will be time consuming. Time must be allowed for the creation of mobile specific ads in every Ad Group as well as making the necessary bid adjustments for locations and hours and days of the week. Creating Ad Group level sitelinks, call extensions or offer extensions for example can also be a long task if you have a large account with 20+ campaigns.

Tablet users are grouped with desktop

We have the option to adjust bids for users on Mobiles and effectively opt out with a -100% bid, however this option is not available for tablets. With the upgrade to enhanced campaigns, Google is categorising desktop and tablet users as essentially being the same, they will be grouped as one and targeting settings cannot be tailored for one or the other.

Although this makes campaign management simpler I don’t think it is necessarily best for all clients; targeting tablet users separately as we have been able to do so before certainly has its benefits. From my experience tablet users tend to spend more on e-commerce sites than desktop or mobile users and being able to target them with increased bids and tailored ads would still be profitable. Also, considering tablets such as the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire for example have screen sizes of just 7 inches, the ease of browsing a site on a screen of such a tiny scale, doesn’t compare with using a 19 inch monitor on a desktop PC.

Call forwarding isn’t instant

Despite the benefits of call forwarding, it is often frustrating when using it with a smaller client that receives few impressions. In order for the Google call forwarding number to start showing with your ads they must reach a certain, unknown, threshold. This is fine with larger clients as they will usually reach this threshold in a matter of days but for some smaller ones I have had to wait close to a month. Whilst you wait for your ads to reach the impression threshold they resort to showing the client’s number instead of the forwarding number, which effectively means wasting budget on an activity that is not accurately measurable until the forwarding number starts showing and tracking.

One size fits all with keywords

With enhanced campaigns there is the usual control over keywords such as customised URLs and bids to override Ad Group level settings. However, one thing missing that the Legacy campaigns allowed for, is the ability to set different keyword bids for each device and opt to include or exclude certain keywords from targeting a particular device.

There will be occasions when you may deem a mobile search for a particular keyword more valuable than a desktop search for the same keyword, and in such a case it would be useful to have the ability to increase the keyword bid for mobile users only. Unfortunately this is not possible with enhanced campaigns and all keyword settings apply to all devices: you cannot adjust bids by device nor can you include/exclude certain keywords from showing on certain devices.

If you would like us to help you transfer your pay per click activity over to enhanced campaigns and play up to the benefits of this update, get in touch with us below:

Contact Receptional