Google ignited the paid search world this month with the release of Enhanced Campaigns.
I’ve observed a number of concerns among the paid search community, particularly around measurement, data collection, and campaign structuring. Advertisers and agencies have spent the last few years restructuring PPC (pay per click) accounts and heavily segmenting campaigns to allow for more granular targeting, budget allocation, reporting, and optimization strategy. Early in February 2013, Google launched Enhanced Campaigns and essentially told everyone to go back to the drawing board and start over.
Despite all of the initial concerns and worry this might actually be a good thing for search marketers and advertisers.
What Does This Mean for Advertisers?
In addition to tablet targeting merging with desktop targeting, Google is introducing vector-based bidding. Advertisers will be able to set maximum costs per click (CPCs) on mobile as a percentage of their maximum CPCs on desktop. They will also be able to direct mobile traffic to a different landing page. Tablet and operating system/original equipment manufacturer (OS/OEM) targeting are the only features they are truly phasing out.
So conceptually, this is not a fundamental shift in strategy. Tactically, however, the campaign structure will need to be revisited in order to achieve the same level of optimization and reporting capabilities. Advertisers should still have the ability to segregate mobile and desktop campaigns, but it will require a little creativity and a lot of restructuring.
Tablet is merging with desktop, and mobile targeting is evolving, but Enhanced Campaigns don’t stop there. Vector bidding will be extended to geo- and time-based targeting. If advertisers consider that local searches constitute 24% of Google queries (according to a Chitika study in October 2012), and that mobile search queries are highest after office hours, they could leverage the new geo-based, time-based, and mobile vector bidding features to bring their PPC campaigns to the next level of sophistication.
We can speculate that mobile CPCs will increase as a result of Google changing the rules of engagement once again, but only data can validate those assumptions. I am choosing to look on the bright side — Google is challenging advertisers to get on board with the “mobile movement” and revisit their overarching search engine marketing (SEM) strategy.
Mobile marketing is still a work in progress. Google has been advocating mobile for years, yet advertisers have been lagging in laying the foundation for their programs despite endless compelling arguments.
I have managed multiple global Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 SEM accounts over the past seven years, and none of them had a robust mobile environment (if they had one at all).
Google says just 33% of advertisers have mobile-optimized sites. eMarketer forecasts the number of mobile shoppers in the U.S. will represent 62% of digital shoppers in 2013. But 96% of consumers say they’ve encountered sites that were clearly not designed for mobile devices. This means there is a clear disconnect. It also means there is a huge opportunity for the companies that get it right.
Has Google Really Shattered Planet PPC?
The release of Enhanced Campaigns is hardly a disruption of best practices as we know them. Think of it more as an evolution, and maybe even a step in the right direction. It will require significant effort to prepare for the migration, and will undoubtedly complicate your optimization strategy, but those changes could also open the door to more dimensionalization of PPC campaigns. Personally, I’m glad that mobile (specifically), as well as targeting capabilities, are back on the SEM strategy table.
What do you think these changes mean for your business and your SEM strategy? Have you begun to put a new plan in place?