There is a fair amount of hype, conjecture, and even fear about the fast-approaching migration and launch of Google's latest on July 22. There are also some core truths marketers should know about enhanced campaigns.
By quick way of background, many are seeing the upcoming launch of enhanced campaigns as Google's biggest move since the introduction of AdWords. While there have been all sorts of theories about reasons or motivations behind Google making this change, the basic fact is that mobile grew faster than Google and many others thought it would or even wanted it to. As has been widely reported, Google anticipated that mobile search would pass desktop later this year, but this noteworthy milestone has already been passed. Upon seeing this, Google has essentially determined with the upcoming launch of enhanced campaigns that it's now time for all of its advertisers to go mobile, even if many (more about this below) aren't ready.
Without further ado, here are five things marketers should know about Google's enhanced campaigns.
Mobile is mandatory, like it or not
Whether they have a mobile strategy or have even contemplated one, Google's business advertisers will have to embrace mobile as part of enhanced campaigns, period. Major brands and agencies are in decent shape in terms of having their sites optimized for mobile, but for many small and medium-sized businesses, there's a sobering reality that, come July 22, they won't have the ability to opt-in or out of mobile search marketing. They're likely to be in for a shock if their sites aren't optimized for mobile or ready for the mobile traffic that stands to be coming their way soon. The good news is that with the increased penetration of smart phones and the emergence of responsive design, it's easier than ever to adapt a traditional website to look great and function well via mobile.
Takeaway: Be aware of mobile, but don't panic and spend a huge budget on optimizing your site just for mobile because of enhanced campaigns. Responsive design is easy to implement and as mobile devices increase in sophistication and capability almost daily, holding on to your brand's traditional website is not such a bad idea. More than anything, know that you're now in a mobile search world -- whether you chose to be or not.
Don't be surprised to see mobile's already inflated cost-per-click rates rise even further
Even though July 22 hasn't arrived, we're already seeing mobile CPC rates that are way out of line. As all Google-based campaigns and advertisers migrate to include mobile, these CPC rates are likely to go up even more -- based on simple metrics of supply and demand. For the immediate term, don't be shocked when this happens. These rates are eventually going to be in for a correction, but only time will tell. If you don't want to participate at all in mobile targeting for your campaigns, bid them all down 100 percent. You can do this during the enhanced campaigns upgrade process when it prompts you to choose a bid adjustment for mobile -- or post-upgrade -- by going to the "device" targeting under your campaign settings and doing a bid decrease by 100 percent.
Takeaway: Be prepared for an increase, but know that you have some control. As noted above, we're due for a correction in mobile search prices fairly soon. You can get away from participating in mobile by bidding down your campaigns 100 percent -- which is detailed above. Looking at the bigger picture, remember that the mobile-centric world of enhanced campaigns (only top two search listings shown on mobile search results) means that it you're not in the first two spots on any search auction, you'll be out-of-luck.
Be ready to think about desktop computers and tablets as one category, not two
Counterintuitive as it seems, with enhanced campaigns, Google advertisers can't opt in or out of desktops or tablets -- they will have to treat both as one combined grouping. What will likely make this frustrating is that marketers will be able to monitor the performance of desktop versus tablet. As things currently stand, they will not be able to make adjustments or allocations based on this information.
Takeaway: Don't be shy about asking Google about its decision to group tablets and desktop computers into a single bucket, as this one really is a head scratcher.
There are some good things coming with Enhanced campaigns
For one, enhanced campaigns will offer better and more granular reporting. Advertisers have had some legitimate complaints with Google's reporting offerings to date, but better features seem to be on the way -- including multi-device attribution. Also, enhanced campaigns will allow more geographic flexibility, which stands to make life easier for businesses that are expanding to different areas or locations. Google advertisers will be able to develop a series of specific targeting strategies based on geography within one campaign, not having to create scores of individual campaigns to make this happen. Finally, enhanced campaigns will support improved social annotations and click-to-call offerings. While many businesses aren't yet ready to fully embrace mobile, more are on-board with social. Google is making social annotations better and easier for businesses to incorporate. On the click-to-call front, we expect this offering to be free of charge with enhanced campaigns.
Takeaway: Take advantage of and keep looking for many of the tactical improvements Google is bringing to the marketplace with its launch of enhanced campaigns.
Google is listening, even to complainers
Lately Google has been listening to concerns from its customers and even making some specific changes based on these concerns. I'd encourage any marketer who has specific concerns about enhanced campaigns or other offerings to voice them directly with Google. I've been working with Google in various capacities for more than a decade and am encouraged that they seem to be listening more to customers than has often been the case.
Takeaway: Refresh your personal ties with Google now. They seem to be listening to advertiser feedback more than before.
July 22 will be here before we know it. It's both exciting and sobering to realize that a lot is going to instantly change in the digital marketing landscape with the launch of enhanced campaigns. As with any major product launch or migration, we're likely to see a group of people love enhanced campaigns, another group hate it and a bunch of us who are somewhere in the middle. No matter where we stand, fact is that the pending launch of enhanced campaigns is a big deal and virtually all digital marketers stand to be affected. I look forward to sharing some updated perspectives from my team and myself as they continue to develop.
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