Making The Case In Favor Of Enhanced Campaigns

There’s been a lot of anxiety and skepticism from PPC marketers around the recently announced enhanced campaigns. One Search Engine Land commenter put it pretty bluntly:


While it’s true that certain advanced features – most notably device-level targeting and keyword-level CPC bidding for mobile-only campaigns – are going away, and it’s likely that mobile CPC’s will go up, there’s a lot to be gained from these changes, too.

I, for one, welcome these changes. As someone who works with a customer list of more than 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses, I’ve found that mobile advertising adoption rates are exceedingly low with these advertisers. Probably only around 1 in 25 SMBs (4%!) had the time or expertise to create and manage separate mobile-optimized campaigns.

In my experience, only the most sophisticated advertisers at agencies and large, big-budget companies were using the mobile features. That’s a lot of wasted opportunity, and Enhanced Campaigns should do away with most of it.

In this article, I’d like to talk about some of the reasons I think this is positive news for the majority of marketers.

Exhibit A: Current Device Targeting Options

Previously, it was considered best practice to create separate campaigns for mobile and desktop targeting. This effectively doubled the advertiser’s workload as well as the complexity associated with managing the campaigns.

Here’s what the current device targeting options look like in AdWords:


It’s a beast. Again, some power users appreciated all these granular options, and those are the advertisers that are upset about the news.

But, the vast majority of AdWords users were turned off by the complexity of the settings and too many options, so they opted not to take advantage of any advanced mobile ad features, afraid that they’d screw something up and be wasting money on campaigns that they didn’t have the time to manage properly.

Exhibit B: Geo Targeting Options

Location targeting is essential to a successful mobile strategy. When AdWords was invented, geo-targeting was based on countries. The best practice was to have different campaigns for different locations.

Over time, they added the ability to get much more granular with location targeting – states, cities, radius targeting and all sorts of other options.


Again, there’s a tradeoff between control and ease of use. Setting up different campaigns for every possible location and device combination was untenable for most advertisers.

With Enhanced Campaigns, Google has made geo-targeting and device-targeting more like dayparting. You could always adjust your bids up or down based on time of day – this was useful because advertisers could bid less (or turn off their ads) at night, on weekends, or other times when leads were less valuable, for example, during times when their stores were closed.

In the new system, location- and device-based bidding will work the same way. Advertisers will be able to adjust bids up or down in certain geographic locations and when a search occurs on a mobile device. A bid adjustment of -100% will effectively turn off mobile targeting or advertising in that location. I see this as a vast improvement over the current system.

Exhibit C: Mobile Best Practice Adoption Rates

The above components (geo targeting and device targeting) are essential components of a mobile ad strategy. Previously, getting these components right was so complicated that almost no one used it. The types of businesses that are apt to get the most value from mobile search are small local businesses (dentists, restaurants, car dealerships, etc.) – one in three searches from mobile devices have local search intent.

Yet these also happen to be the least sophisticated advertisers! There was an obvious problem here – the advertisers who stood to gain the most from mobile search were the least likely to use it, because the mobile search options were the most complicated things to properly implement.

Enhanced Campaigns will increase adoption among the SMBs that could really benefit from mobile PPC. Some of the advantages for marketers that upgrade to the new system include:

  • Better Reporting Options: The reporting options for mobile are getting a lot stronger, and there will be no more $1 per call tracking fee. They’re making mobile search ROI much easier to track and measure.
  • New Mobile Conversion Type: Conversion tracking was always more challenging on mobile than on desktop search, because goal completions were often defined by a phone call rather than reaching a certain page. Google is introducing a new conversion type based on call duration – again, making it easier to measure the value of your mobile ads.
  • Dramatically Simplified Campaign Management: Advertisers can now target users across all kinds of devices using the same campaigns, rather than having to explode their campaigns out for different devices and locations. This will drastically reduce the time needed to manage mobile ads.

I’m not saying the news is all good.

One of my complaints is that advertisers that were following the previous best practice will have a less than ideal upgrade experience. For example, desktop campaigns will automatically be set to a non-zero mobile bid. I would have preferred if the bid adjustment factor for mobile search weres set to -100% for desktop-only campaigns. And I wish they would have an optional ability to specify mobile bids at the keyword-level rather than just having a single campaign-level bid multiplier. And yes, mobile CPCs are inevitably going to rise as competition increases, etc.

Overall, I believe Enhanced Campaigns will be a boon for the advertising segment (small and midsized businesses) that stand to benefit most.

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

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column


About The Author: is founder and CTO of WordStream, provider of the AdWords Grader and 20 Minute PPC Work Week.

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  • andrekibbe

    “As someone who works with a customer list of more than 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses, I’ve found that mobile advertising adoption rates are exceedingly low with these advertisers. Probably only around 1 in 25 SMBs (4%!) had the time or expertise to create and manage separate mobile-optimized campaigns.”

    I’ve yet to see the evidence that the adoption rates are exceedingly low, at least in terms of advertisers’ wishes. Your guess (“probably”) is framed as a statistic (“4%!”), and your description of the actual problem is equivocally open-ended—”had the time or expertise”? Do you mean they aren’t actually running separate mobile campaigns? If not, have they explicitly attributed this “wasted opportunity” to lack of time or expertise—or a lack of interest? Several books on AdWords (Perry Marshall’s come to mind), advise right from the beginning to turn of mobile advertising unless it provides some discernable advantage, e.g. for geotargeting.

    Anyone adopting AdWords has to deal with its learning curve just to stay cash flow positive. If they’ve learned enough to split test ad groups and continually update their negative keyword list, managing the mobile device preferences is simple by comparison. It’s a couple of checkboxes and radio buttons that, for most advertisers, are going to be set-and-forget.

    I do PPC for an ecommerce company whose products are usually pricey enough make them unrealistic conversion targets for smartphones. It’s one thing buy flowers or make a reservation for a local restaurant; it’s another for actually go through the full checkout process for a $600 product on a smartphone. For non-local ecommerce, conflating mobile and desktop impressions does nothing but increase the cost per conversion.

    That said, I can accept the changes as long as I can keep handheld devices completely switched off; our conversions on tablets and desktops are comparable.

  • Larry Kim

    hi. thanks for this comment.

    just to clarify: i did a database search across all my customers to see how many had campaigns that targeted mobile and/or tablet only. I’m able to do this because my company sells PPC software and so it’s easy to just query across my customer data. the answer was 4%.

    I am hopeful that google will roll out some additional targeting options in the future. who knows.

  • andrekibbe

    Ah, so the 4% referred to running those running mobile campaigns. I still think the low adoption has less to do with lack of time or expertise than it does with lack of interest in mobile advertising.

    Google purchased Android expressly to cash in on the hockey stick growth in mobile traffic (before the iPhone existed, G feared the MS’ then-dominant Windows Mobile would lock them out of the mobile advertising market), but that type of traffic isn’t ideal for many advertisers. If we ever get to a point where mobile and tablet targeting on forced on generic AdWords campaigns, impressions will go up disproportionately to conversions.

    I’m also hopeful that G will add some more targeting options, maybe even reaching the number of options we have now!

  • Phil Segal

    Larry, love Wordstream and love your content, but this article I cannot agree with.

    In my experience running many, many Adwords campaigns, the primary reason that I and/or the client have decided not to run Search on Mobile is because of poor conversion.

    The real problem in the industry right now is cross-channel attribution; many users research on their mobile device but take conversion actions at home or at work on a computer or tablet. This change does not solve that problem, but rather it strong-arms advertisers to adopt Mobile, which will ultimately boost Google’s revenue and Stock price.

    That’s what this is about.

    I’ve never heard anyone complain that their targeting options on Adwords were too vast; that’s what makes the medium so popular compared to traditional media advertising.

    Like so many of Google’s money-making changes wrapped in PR, this is a barely-sugar-coated step backwards for the advertiser.

  • Craig Barrett

    I think the major flaw in your argument is that all of these useful features are being removed. If Google was really out to help small advertisers, they would simply default to “enhanced campaigns” and leave the advanced targeting features in place. The reality is they are crippling their own tools to intentionally increase CPCs. That is the wrong way to go about it. I would much rather they give me new features and charge me for them.

  • John Langley

    I disagree about enhanced campaigns. Have you noticed for example that conversion 1 per click still exists at campaign level, but no longer at Adgroup and Keyword level? How can removing the number of conversion an adgroup or keyword recieves be an improvement? Far too many advertising still don’t track conversions values. Vital metrics are being removed in order to prevent adwords advertisers making informed decisions. This is a just a profit enhancement excercise for google. Remember CPC have fallen for 10 quaters in a row.

  • Jayne Reddyhoff

    I really disagree with this article!

    I won’t repeat all the other comments, but I concur with the point made by Craig Barrett “If Google was really out to help small advertisers, they would simply default to “enhanced campaigns” and leave the advanced targeting features in place”… for those of us who need to use them.

    Some people can’t cope with using the self checkout lanes at Tesco and Sainsbury. Is that a reason to force everyone to use the manned tills?

  • Phil Segal


    I’m on a call with a Google rep specifically about this change. Enhanced Campaigns is paving the way for technology that will allow Cross-Device Attribution in Adwords.

    SO maybe eventually it will solve this problem.


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