Goodbye Enhanced Campaigns, Hello Bing Ads

Once July 23rd rolls around, I hope we can all agree to stop referring to ”enhanced campaigns” as such and get back to simply calling them “campaigns.”

It was a great message spin on Google’s part to select this antonymic adjective to describe campaigns which offer fewer targeting options and higher CPCs — but, as marketers come to see the change for what it truly is, I believe the time has come to retire that modifier.

I suspect that few people actually believed the “enhanced” bit, and fewer still do now that enhanced campaign cost performance data are emerging.  To continue to associate the word “enhanced” with the new campaign structure will only lead to more cynicism and mistrust of Google within its advertising base.  It’s a shame, really, because Google is an amazing company that has done (and continues to do) amazing things for its advertising platform.

I have noticed a shift in advertiser attitudes toward Google over the past few months, and it is most noticeable when contrasted with attitudes toward Microsoft’s Bing Ads. In my unscientifically-validated opinion, it seems that advertiser respect for Google has dropped a few pegs, while Microsoft is gaining new admirers and renewed respect.

Search Marketers everywhere are starting to going wild over Microsoft's Bing Ads.

Search Marketers are going wild over Microsoft’s Bing Ads. Image via Shutterstock.

Is Microsoft Winning New Hearts And Minds?

To  illustrate my point, let me share an experience from the SMX Advanced Conference a few weeks ago. Paul Corkery, Microsoft Program Manager for Search and Tools, was speaking on the Amazing PPC Tactics panel about some cool new features in Bing Ads.

He started off by stating that Microsoft was committed to supporting the import of AdWords Enhanced Campaigns into Bing Ads, but also he hoped advertisers would appreciate that Bing Ads will continue to support desktop, mobile, and tablet targeting.

A spontaneous cheer arose from the crowd.

“And advertisers can still control bids for mobile devices at the keyword level on Bing,” he continued. The audience erupted again.

With each new announcement Corkery made about Bing Ads, the hooting and hollering became more intense. It got so loud, you’d have thought you were at an old-fashioned revival meeting. People continued to hoot and holler, clapping and loudly showing their support for Microsoft. For Microsoft!!

This was a true out-of-body experience for me. I remember back in the old days when Microsoft was (un)lovingly referred to as “the Death Star of the Pacific Northwest” because they were so dominant in the PC software space. But here it was — crowds going bonkers for Microsoft and Bing Ads!

That spontaneous outburst in Seattle probably says as much about Microsoft’s growing momentum in our search advertising community as it does the collective frustration with Google. It sure feels like lines have been crossed, and a tipping point has been reached that will lead to advertising budgets shifting away from Google and toward Microsoft — that is, once all this enhanced campaign migration baloney is over and done with.

Advertisers Returning Verdicts On Enhanced Campaigns

The first major studies of the economic impact of enhanced campaigns have been hitting the news — and the news is not that good.

At SMX Advanced, a few PPC experts shared their experiences on a panel entitled, Best Practices for Enhanced Campaigns . My good friend and colleague, Christine Churchill, wrote a great recap of the panel in her last SEL column, but one of the most important takeaways from that session was the fact that after spending $5 million within enhanced campaigns, CPAs across all devices had risen alarmingly.

Last week, a few other leading advertisers reported similar findings.

Search Engine Land contributor Ginny Marvin wrote an eye-opening article about digital agency iProspects’ results from $6 Million in enhanced campaign ad spend. iProspect reported that while they have seen increased traffic and revenues since April, they’ve also observed higher CPCs for mobile (9%) tablets (12%) and desktops (14%).

Most significantly, Dr. Sid Shah, Adobe Director of Business Analytics, published a research and analysis report entitled, “Google Enhanced Campaigns to Impact Google’s Ad Revenue; New Algorithms Crucial For Advertiser Success.” In his analysis, which was based on $100 Million of Google AdWords enhanced campaign ad spend, Dr Shah has observed a 6% CPC increase from March through May. The report goes on to forecast another 5-10% CPC increase over the next two quarters, compared with the CPCs in the same quarters in 2012. These increases are being driven in part by enhanced campaigns.

Lisa Raehsler wrote about the Adobe research study, and Google responded to that article with an incredible statement:

Adobe Study AdWords Enhanced Campaign

Only Google could dismiss a $100 Million, 3-month ad study like this.

Really? A study involving $100 Million of ad spend isn’t a large enough sample size to make a reliable conclusion about the economic impact of enhanced campaigns? Wow. Pity the small advertisers this whole enhanced campaigns thing is supposed to help — they could gather data from now until the sun burns out and they still wouldn’t know whether it is working or not. Wow. Wow. Wow.

What’s An Advertiser To Do?

Reading these economic impact reports, which reasonably mirror my own observations and those of numerous other advertisers I’ve talked with, it is clear that advertising on Google has just become more expensive. Even if, like iProspect, you see increased traffic and revenues, these come at higher costs and take some more of the fun out of advertising on Google.

Unless Google relents on keyword level control of mobile bids (yeah, right), allows for expanded bid modifier ranges (I am still betting on this) and adds targeting of tablet devices back in (fuggedaboutit), it sure looks like the net impact of enhanced campaigns is going to be lower returns on Google ad spend.

Does that mean you should stop advertising on Google? Heck no! There’s still way too much good traffic and revenue to be had — and Google’s Display Ad network is still, in my opinion, hands-down the best in the industry. However, what we should all do is consider shifting more search ad budget over to Bing Ads.

What To Expect On Bing Ads

If you are not yet advertising on Bing Ads, and want to know if it’s worth your while or not, here are two back-of-the-napkin calculations you can use to estimate your potential on Bing based on how you are are doing now on Google.

To estimate Conversions on Bing:

  • Conversions on Bing Ads = (Conversions from Google Search) x 20%

In other words, if you get 1,000 conversions on Google, you can figure that the same campaign imported into Bing Ads should be capable of ~ 200 conversions in the same time period.

To estimate your Cost Per Conversion (CPA) on Bing:

  • Bing Ads CPA = (CPA from Google Search) * 80%

So, if you are averaging $50/conversion on a Google search campaign, expect that same campaign to bring you conversions at around $40 on Bing Ads.

These are rough estimates from a sampling of our US and Canadian clients, and it is quite possible to achieve this level of performance by simply opening up a Bing account and importing your existing Google campaigns. You can do better with some time and attention. We’ve seen CPAs range from 60% – 95% of their AdWords equivalent. We’ve seen conversion volumes as high as 25% of the AdWords equivalent, but rarely below 15%.

As you can see, there’s plenty of low-hanging fruit that’s yours for the easy picking by just getting started with Bing. So, once you’ve finished dedicating your waking hours to converting and tweaking your Google Enhanced Campaigns, start spending more time over on Bing Ads. You’ll be glad you did.

As promised earlier, I’ll be starting my multi-part series on how to succeed on the Bing Ads platform. In the meantime, if you have any questions or challenges on Bing Ads, or want to share your own successes, tips and tricks, please leave a comment below. I’ll do my best to respond to your questions, as will your fellow readers, who are always willing to jump in and leave helpful comments.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Google: AdWords: Enhanced Campaigns | Paid Search Column


About The Author: is President and founder of Find Me Faster a search engine marketing firm based in Nashua, NH. He is a member of SEMNE (Search Engine Marketing New England), and SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization as a member and contributing courseware developer for the SEMPO Institute. Matt writes occasionally on internet, search engines and technology topics for IMedia, The NH Business Review and other publications.

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  • Siva

    Google is able to force advertisers to adapt to new changes for it has large search market share. Even with all changes to its ad platform, Microsoft needs to have sufficient search market share to see shift.

  • Adrian Huth

    perfectly said, Google jumped the shark with advertisers on this one.

  • Matt Van Wagner

    yes, agreed. Google is effectively leveraging its large market advantage, but 20-25% additional clicks and conversions at a 20% discount off Google market prices is nothing to sneeze at.

  • Matt Van Wagner

    Thanks for your comments, Gayle. Microsoft’s pace of change, particularly on import from AdWords, is impressive. Have you seen the new keyword graphs, yet? Very clever reporting enhancement that helps drill in and isolate performance hotspots – good and bad.

  • Matt Van Wagner

    Thanks, Andrew. As always, a reasoned response, though I am surprised at the strong negative sentiment towards Microsoft products as a whole.

    Just as I know you aren’t just being a Google apologist, as some other industry pundits have clearly been, I’m not here to be a Microsoft apologist, either.

    Both megaliths have had high profile failures, missteps and run-ins with regulators because of aggressive behavior. Sucky products? Pull backs? Microsoft may have missed the window to counter Google’s free offering of analytics, but it wasn’t pure altruism on Google’s part to offer it free-of-charge. Certainly Google is no innocent here, thinking back to product listings, reader, orKut (!), AdWords for radio and print and so on and so forth. Microsoft and Google have both been successful companies, world-changers really, but along each has had and will continue to have, clunkers.

    At the end of the day, however, the simple economics are these. Enhanced Campaigns have changed the economics of advertising on Google. They can deny it all they like, the data are suggesting otherwise. As Google’s marketplace becomes more expensive, other forms of advertising become more attractive.

    And, really, Andrew, why your clients laugh you out of the room when you propose to increase sales and profits by shifting some ad spend to Bing Ads? Your clients must be nuts. They should be kissing you and sending you fruit baskets.

    Sure Google is making changes to Enhanced Campaigns. They have to, and they should. Advertisers are screaming bloody murder about higher costs, loss of control on devices, operating systems and so forth and are looking to spend elsewhere where they can be more profitable.

    Bing Ads is one of those places.

    I’d be more thankful if Google, Instead of calling something enhanced when it’s clearly not, using version numbers, ( v9.2, 9.3) instead of using bulls**** modifiers like “enhanced’ to put earrings on a sow’s ear.

  • Jordan McClements

    Unfortunately, in the UK it is more like 10% of additional clicks.
    But I agree wholeheartedly that at the moment, MS is kicking Google’s ass all over the place with regard to customer support and customer relations.

  • Matt Van Wagner

    Thanks, Jordan. Tougher to move the needle with only 10% of share.

  • Larry Kim

    not trying to diminish or dismiss any of the issues here but thought i’d just add that I’m seeing fantastic results from my SMB clients – the vast majority of them didn’t have mobile strategies in place before because it was too complicated for them previously.

  • Matt Van Wagner

    Thank you, Larry. Glad to hear of your success. You been a strong advocate for enhanced campaigns since the minute they launched. Are you saying that since Feb, the majority of your SMB clients have implemented mobile strategies? That’s impressive.

  • Matt Van Wagner

    Fair enough.

    The relative conversion data I’ve mentioned is real data from our accounts – can’t speak to other claims floating around in the wild.

    So, your approach is to focus intently on Google’s offerings where you know you can keep finding more conversions at or below your target CPAs by leveraging your deep Google expertise and infrastructure. That makes a lot of sense, because there are few, if any, with deeper Google expertise than you and your team at Page Zero.

    Southwest Airlines take a similar approach with it’s fleet. They only buy and fly Boeing 737s. What they miss out by adding other aircraft, they make up in operating efficiencies. It’s a great strategy.

    Now, I am not going to argue the point that Google’s got many more features, bells & whistles available. They do.

    However, I will disagree with you on the point of cross-regional simplification. I’ve always thought that Microsoft’s solution to geographical targeting was (and remains) the superior one – allow Geo-targeting at the ad group OR campaign level. And since time-zones on Bing are based on where the ad is presented, it eliminated the time-zone games we’ve had to play on Google.

    If Google had followed Bing’s lead on these, AdWords accounts would not have grown so bloated, and we might have precluded this disruptive do-it-now-or-else architectural re-alignment.

  • Garen

    Bing Ad’s are up 20% in paid search volume since the new SERP redesign and now make up 50% of AdWords click share. The shift is already happening.

    Conversion rates and CPA’s are roughly on par on Bing’s O&O network. Their partner network however is still behind the curve and I would highly suggest breaking out these two sources and adjust your CPC’s.

  • Matt Van Wagner

    Interesting observation, Garen, thanks for sharing. is this your own results, or across a number of different accounts/campaigns.

    Agreed 100% on the partner network.

  • Larry Kim

    excerpt from today’s google earnings call:

    Paid Clicks – Aggregate paid clicks, which include
    clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of our Network
    members, increased approximately 23% over the second quarter of 2012 and
    increased approximately 4% over the first quarter of 2013.

    Cost-Per-Click – Average cost-per-click, which includes
    clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of our Network
    members, decreased approximately 6% over the second quarter of 2012 and
    decreased approximately 2% over the first quarter of 2013.

    (yes – CPC’s have gone down! wow)


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