Enhanced Campaigns: Thinking beyond the keyword and putting the audience first

It's been 5 months since Enhanced Campaigns went live…

Our initial scepticism seemed justified with the industry as a whole not receiving Enhanced Campaigns (EC) well, with a genuine concern that the removal of split device targeting would limit visibility and our ability to target customers in a granular way; and like most experienced partners of Google, we believed it was just another way of Google raising its costs.   

However, five months on and I find myself eating my own words with the process not actually being that painful (my Campaigns Managers & Analysts may disagree) and some incredibly exciting new targeting features to match.  In fact, I personally love the way EC has turned the Search world on its head making us think beyond the keyword but about the person behind it (…so fickle!).

Audience targeting (probably the BIGGEST buzz word for 2014 - also my prediction for 2014) is set to be one of the biggest trends for 2014.  Audience targeting reduces the speculative costs of advertising and allows you to invest directly into the right customer segments, advocates, engagers and friends of fans etc.

Audience targeting is ironically what Display has been doing forever, yet we've criticized the lack of results Display delivers.  However since Real-time Bidding (RTB) was introduced into the mix, display has taken some massive leaps in growth and performance.  Now Search is doing the same, putting the audience first and targeting multiple customer segments…the keyword ironically, is now secondary to the process. 

Audience targeting isn't just a Search thing though.  Think about it…audience targeting is also social media advertising, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram etc.  As users we tell these platforms everything about us, making it far easier to target us, even at an individual level if we really wanted to.  We've definitely seen the benefits for clients such as Vertu - social media advertising and audience targeting is playing a vital role in the wider digital strategy pushing brand, growth and acquisition.

So Google's completely won me over…why, what's so good about Enhanced Campaigns?

  • It's more convenient…much faster and easier to make mass changes such adjusting ad copy across one account rather than three, giving our teams more time for analysis and campaign development.
  • Remarketing for Search Ads (RSLA) and Demographic Targeting are pretty exciting initiatives and bring a whole new layer of efficiency and testing options to our campaigns.
  • RLSA as a stand-alone beta has removed the fear factor when bidding on generics.
  • The geographic and proximity bidding features are much improved and far easier to just add a modifier for particular regions rather than replicate campaigns.
  • Pretty much all Ad Extensions have improved under Enhanced Campaigns…ease of implementation and more transparency in the results and reporting.

But we still can't target mobile separately…is this still a problem?

Unfortunately yes. Mobile growth has been phenomenon this year, seeing on average 25-30% increase in searches year on year. In fact, this is where both Search and Display has grown with more consumers using their mobiles to find products and services.  For PPC specifically, retail and finance has seen impressive growth with mobile being consistently up month on month (MoM).

That said, added benefits since EC include:

  • Mobile specific ad copy messaging
  • Mobile specific sitelink messaging
  • Proxity bidding
  • Audience targeting to overlay and refine mobile traffic

With EC, an advertiser can't target mobile separately.  A desktop campaign still has to be part of the mix but aggressive bid modifiers have to be applied to increase the mobile coverage.  This means you no longer have the option to buy mobile only traffic.  Historically, we could run specific geo-targeted mobile campaigns for product launches, festival etc But now, we have to include desktop and tablet bidding with these, meaning some wastage in spend (even if it's only small… we don't waste budget!).

EC also means we don't have the same control as we used to over device spend.  Although we can adjust the mobile modifiers, we can't control what percentage of the campaign budgets are spent on each device.

With mobile already accounting for 10% of digital ad spend at the end of 2012 and probably reaching at least 20% by the end of 2013, the focus on mobile is necessary but still a challenge.  Despite the increase in searches this year, we are not seeing quite the same growth spurt in conversion and revenue. 

With lower conversion rates and higher cost per acquisitions, it's difficult to justify the investment we put into mobile; even more so of a problem when we're still trying to figure out cross device tracking.  My complaints aside, this is exactly the reason why Google is putting mobile first and why we should as well.  Although it may appear unreasonable, I have to agree with the added pressure from Google - with desktop searches down this year by at least 12-18% but mobile up, we should be taking full advantage and waking up to the fact consumers really are searching and buying by multiple devices.

What would we like to see in 2014 from Enhanced Campaigns?

Our wish list includes…

  • Being able to have different ad copy for different lists within the same ad group/campaign, e.g. for RSLA - this allows us to only break out brand/top performers for their own budget and then keep other campaigns with just a bid modifier but still tailor the ad copy.
  • A modifier for tablet bids the same as we have for mobile.
  • Improvements to the Tagless RSLA beta allowing deeper targeting options.
  • Fine tuning the interface and editor so some of the more cumbersome processes with EC become less time consuming.

…and last but not at all least, give us mobile specific targeting features.

At the start of 2013 I wasn't a fan of Google's biggest change in 10 years; 10 months on and I'm completely sold and believe this new way of advertising, putting the audience first, is the start of something quite beautiful, keeping Search fresh and current as ever.

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