Should You Upgrade To AdWords Enhanced Campaigns?

Google made a huge splash last week when they announced Enhanced Campaigns. There have been both positive and negative reactions to the announcement.

If you haven’t heard about the changes, here is the quick, bullet-point list:

  • The ability to set mobile-specific bids will be removed (you can do bid adjustments at the campaign level)
  • The ability to target specific mobile devices and carriers will be removed
  • The ability to specifically target tablets will be removed and bundled with desktop campaigns
  • You can now control ad extensions by ad group
  • You can now use ad scheduling for sitelinks
  • You can do bid changes by geography (like mobile, this is a simple plus or minus percentage)

Some of these changes are excellent, such as ad group level ad extensions. Others will upset some marketers because they are going to lose lots of mobile targeting options.

Instead of getting on a soapbox and talking about how good or bad the changes are, I’m going to focus on whether or not you should upgrade immediately or hold off upgrading. Eventually, you will have to upgrade to Enhanced Campaigns, but you have several months before being forced to upgrade. Today, we’ll examine what accounts should be upgrading right away versus waiting to make the changes.

Who Should Wait A Long Time To Upgrade

1.  Sophisticated Mobile Accounts

If you are running sophisticated mobile campaigns, you will want to wait to upgrade. I have some accounts where I bid differently by device; device and carrier; and even some that are segmented by device, carrier and geography.


This type of granular control will be completely removed. For these types of accounts, you will want to wait and see if Google makes any changes to the targeting before you must switch to Enhanced Campaigns, and if not, you will want to really think through your upgrade strategy of combining campaigns together.

2.  Mobile Only Accounts

It is not uncommon to see small accounts only target mobile devices. These accounts often have small to medium spends, and they are focused on phone calls. When you examine their spends, they can be profitable by only spending their money on mobile campaigns, and they don’t even run ads on desktops.

In the new world of Enhanced Campaigns, you cannot only target mobile devices. You will set your bids at the keyword or ad group level as normal, and then you can choose to override that bid for mobile devices by decreasing your bid up to 100% (which means you will not be shown on mobile as your bids will be zer0); or, you can raise your bids up to 300%.

That means if you were bidding $15 per click on a mobile device, you must now bid at least $5 for desktop clicks and set your bid boost to 300%. You are going to spend some money on desktops; and therefore, your overall profits will probably decline in this particular instance. These accounts should wait to upgrade.

3.  Tablet Optimized Websites

You cannot target tablets differently from desktops at all. This means that you cannot set different destination URLs for tablets. So, if you have made a tablet optimized website, you will need to make sure that your site detects the tablet and redirects the user to the tablet site.

4.  Vastly Different Desktop & Tablet CPAs

I work on some accounts where tablet clicks are much more valuable than desktop clicks. I work on some where they are about the same. I work on others where tablets have been disabled as they are so much worse than desktop clicks.

With Enhanced Campaigns, you cannot treat tablets and desktops separately, including bid adjustments. Therefore, for accounts with vastly different desktop and tablet CPAs, you will need to start working toward blended bids before you upgrade.


Bid adjustments are only by mobile devices; not for tablets.

Phone Specific Apps

I do want to clarify one point of confusion. I’ve heard from app makers that they are going to have problems promoting their products; and to some degree, this might be an issue. However, you can make app ads that are only shown on an iOS or Andriod device (sorry, no windows targeting yet). So, for your app install, you can target just the device type.

However, if you also run ads for your app that go to your website to showcase how to use the app, those ads will show on any device type. So, if you are only using app ads, upgrading is not going to affect you. If you are using app and regular text ads, then you might wait to upgrade.

These are the types of accounts that should wait to upgrade. There are other account types that will benefit from account upgrades right away.

Who Should Upgrade Now?

1.  Accounts Doing Very Little Mobile Targeting

The downsides to the new Enhanced Campaigns are mostly around mobile. The upsides are bid adjustments and great control over extensions. Therefore, if you are doing very little or no mobile, there isn’t any downside to upgrading to enhanced accounts.

2.  Accounts Struggling With Geographic Bidding

Almost every account has different CPAs and conversion rates by geography. You can see this data in the dimensions tab:


In this account, the CPAs range from $45 to $91 in their top 9 converting cities by absolute conversions. Therefore, this account first did some segmentation by geography into high, medium, and low performing areas in order to set different bids by region. The keywords and ads are identical for each region – only the bids change.

When you make some broad statements that have many exceptions about geographic targeting, most accounts fall into one of a few types:

  • Targeting a small area
  • A different campaign for every geography to control bids (but not ad changes)
  • A different campaign for every geography to control ads (and maybe bids)
  • The campaigns are national, or large regions, and even though performance changes by region, you don’t bid separately by region

With the new structure, you can set bid changes by geography for the same keywords by only using one campaign and bid boosts.


Accounts that have struggled with taking advantage of geographic data will benefit from these changes and will see benefits in upgrading their campaigns.

3.  Accounts Segmented By Extension Usage

Ad extensions were campaign level only. Therefore, some accounts are segmented based upon extension usage. If you wanted different site links to appear for certain keywords and not others, then you needed to put these keywords in their own campaigns.

If you wanted one ad to use a location extension, but you didn’t want that same extension in another ad group in the same campaign, then you needed two campaigns. This caused some accounts to grow out of control just because of the extension usage.

The new structure allows you to control most extensions at the campaign or ad group level. Some extensions, such as social, are still only at the campaign level. You can designate some extensions as mobile-preferred and even set up ad scheduling for some extensions, such as sitelinks.



These are some of the more common reasons I’m seeing to upgrade or  hold off upgrading.

There are more reasons to upgrade or to postpone your upgrade. For instance, if you have several thousand campaigns, even if you aren’t doing any mobile advertising, you want to really dig into your tablet and desktop data, conversion rates by geography, keyword overlap, and more before you decide to upgrade and possibly combine campaigns. In that case, it’s not an issue of not wanting to upgrade, it is a matter of thinking through your upgrade plan.

In other cases, when you look at a desktop-only e-commerce site that can now change bids by geography and control extensions by ad group, there is no reason, except for planning, to hold off on the upgrade.

Once you are ready to upgrade, what I would suggest is not immediately upgrading your campaigns at that moment in time. Instead, make a new campaign (it can be paused; it doesn’t have to be live) so you can play with how the bidding changes will work and how the extensions will be controlled. Get some firsthand experience. Once you see how you can control the extensions and the possibilities for bid changes, then think through how you can take advantage of the changes.

Once you are ready to take advantage of the changes, or mitigate the risks in the case of sophisticated mobile advertisers, then feel free to upgrade to the new enhanced campaigns.

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 the Founder of Certified Knowledge, a company dedicated to PPC education & training; fficial Google AdWords Seminar Leader, and author of Advanced Google AdWords.

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  • Radu

    In the mobile bid example I believe that the desktop bid should be $3.75 to reach the desired $15 on mobile. All because is +300%

  • Andy Kuiper – SEO Analyst

    I like that you can;
    …now control ad extensions by ad group
    …do bid changes by geography

  • EVEMilano

    geo bidding <3
    less mobile targeting :'(

    btw…very nice article:simple and clear!

  • Kevin Chamberlin

    Brad, great post
    a very good argument that makes it much simpler to make a decision I think.
    Again showing Google might have thought through this more than first thought.
    And as I am sure there are many out there doing deep mobile only accounts. I
    have done many of those that only a small niche market thrived. Like mobile app
    stores or say a road side assistance company. I believe the majority of
    accounts are less mobile dependent then are and that is why they did this. Even
    though I think they should give the option to opt in or not, and that would please all.

  • Jeremy J Brown

    “I work on some accounts where tablet clicks are much more valuable than desktop clicks. I work on some where they are about the same. I work on others where tablets have been disabled as they are so much worse than desktop clicks.”

    Agreed. I’ve seen the same thing for a number of accounts.

    Separate bidding for tablets is a big missing piece. Hopefully Google will rectify that before the forced shift over to Enhanced Campaigns. Their defense and reasoning behind grouping them was very weak in their 1st webinar on the topic.

    Tablets are desktops are similar, but not the same. Many advertisers see significant differences in performance and should be allowed to bid appropriately.

  • Barbara Young

    Great breakdown, thanks. I love much of what enhanced campaigns deliver.

    But, what really irks me is that we have no choice – eventually, as the big notice in our AdWords accounts indicates:
    This campaign will be upgraded to an enhanced campaign in a few months.

    Why not give us the choice to upgrade when it makes sense, and “hold” when it doesn’t make sense? Google is becoming just like Big Brother in thinking that “they know what’s best for us”. Gaaar.

  • Jesper Sato

    Sitelinks for adgroups have been wanted for a long time so i greet it very welcome. Often huge changes will affect things in both ways, and not all will like it. However the downsides with the mobile might force Google to make a few “hotfixes” before they launch it permanently. Article hits spot on. Let´s see if there will be any changes in the near future.

  • Pamela Garron Olson

    I have experienced 2 bugs so far and reported them to Google – iPhones have the text in the Mobile Preferred ads cutting off and the Sitelinks are reports are not counting the clicks on each sitelink as promised.

  • Justin Sous

    I’m holding off for the most part just in case AdWords makes the decision to change it to an opt-in feature, like they did for ad rotation.

  • Paul Isaac

    … and you definitely upgraded the sitelinks to the new format? Because the old ones will carry forward but not split the reporting.

  • Daniel Kugler

    We will loose the option of running “mobile only” campaigns. How is this an enhancement?

  • Gnosis Media Group

    Me too

  • bluegirlredstate

    This is a mess. Campaigns set up with a CPA instead of CPC have no control over how much they spend on mobile. Major oversight on Google’s part – I’ve live chatted and spoken by phone with them today and they’re at a loss.

    The truth is, mobile coverts poorly and Google wants to force us to throw money at it anyway.

  • bluegirlredstate

    It’s an enhancement for Google’s bottom line, that’s how.

  • PHP Moz

    Mobile does not convert at all for my sites and tablet does so incredibly well. I hate losing control of how much I can bid for each device I am targeting. Lumping all devices into a single campaign is a foolish way of targeting especially when conversions are vastly different for each device. Filling out forms on a mobile device is a horrible experience anyway you cut it, so it makes sense tablets convert much higher. Google needs to understand that.

  • Chris Oliver

    I too see this ‘enhancement’ as a retrograde step although its great to have ad group sitelinks and CTR data. However if the call ad extension is enabled the tel number now appears on the desktop ads pushing the extended title text to below the display url (where it used to be). We’ve tested this and found the CTR% is much lower when the phone number is displayed (on desktops). Logically even if there’s a number displayed won’t people using a desktop click through to the site first? I’ve discussed this with Google UK and apparently ‘they’re experimenting’. Hopefully they’ll finish soon and address some of the shortcomings.

  • Matt

    This is a complete balls-up. There are so many scenarios where this approach DOES NOT WORK. For example changing your bids PER KEYWORD. You have to now setup separate campaigns unless adjusting your bids by a percentage happens to cover all keywords (unlikely). Also guess what happens when your mobile ad is approved and your desktop ad isn’t approved, thats right, your moble ad shows on desktops meaning wasted clicks while you wait for your ad to be approved! This is really quite frustrating as it worked perfectly well before.


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