AdWords Enhanced Campaigns: Naughty or Nice for SMBs & Agencies?

February 7th, 2013 by Search Influence Alumni

Yesterday, Google announced what might be the largest restructuring of the AdWords platform to date: Enhanced Campaigns. Building on (and some say attempting to boost) the influx of mobile advertisements on AdWords, Enhanced Campaigns are an attempt to simplify the mobile pay-per-click management process by removing barriers to ROI calculation for SMB advertisers. While many advertisers are less than enthused about the changes, Search Influence welcomes the new features, streamlined campaign creation process, and simpler campaign management and assessment that Enhanced Campaigns brings to the table.


The official blog post on Inside AdWords is clear about the goals of Enhanced Campaigns: simplify mobile and multi-touch marketing for the part-time advertiser. Citing a study on the new world of multi-screen browsing, Google claims 90% of consumers “move sequentially” between several devices during the conversion funnel.

Google highlights three refinements to existing AdWords features that will be live for everyone starting in June: (1) laser-targeted bid adjustment based on location, device, time of day, “and more” within a single campaign; (2) easy management of one campaign across multiple devices, which is in contrast to the previous recommended best practice of duplicating identical campaigns for different device targeting; and (3) more accurate click-to-call data and conversion measurement across devices. These changes allow advertisers to more easily set up mobile campaigns, a strategy Wordstream founder and CTO Larry Kim says only 4% of advertisers participated in despite lower costs-per-click and, in our experience, high conversion rates from calls.

The new bidding system is based on a percentage of a basic bid which covers the equivalent of today’s national desktop campaigns. This bid can be multiplied by -100% to 300% depending on device targeted and -90% to 900% depending on geographic area or time targeted. This allows advertisers to avoid tedious duplication of campaigns simply for different targeting, while making it much easier on “part-timers” and campaigns with limited budgets to run on multiple devices and control who sees their ads.

Combined with the recently-simplified Remarketing Lists in Analytics, the upcoming Universal Analytics, and the storyline offered in a post on SEER Interactive, it becomes clear that the other shoe dropping with Enhanced Campaigns is the continued march toward multi-touch lead attribution.

AdWords is also dropping the direct fee for Google-offered click-to-call numbers in mobile search ads, tracking only calls over one minute as a conversion. This has been a point of contention for marketers who know that a click on a phone number and a call connected are very different things.


Not everyone is excited about the changes brought by Enhanced Campaigns. Many advertisers are concerned about the cost-per-click increase that will come with a variety of new advertisers not effectively managing their bids using combined campaigns. According to an Adobe study, the gap between mobile and desktop costs-per-click dropped by 15% between the 3rd and 4th quarters 2012, meaning that there’s already less of an advantage to advertising on mobile. Automatically setting advertisers to run on mobile means that despite the availability of new bidding tactics, less savvy advertisers will inflate the ad auction and lead the platform to be less profitable for everyone.

Others are concerned that Google won’t be able to effectively manage the preferences expressed in the myriad targeting options provided by Enhanced Campaigns. Per Google’s Guide to Upgrading to Enhanced Campaigns, Quality Scores in upgraded campaigns are reported at a bird’s-eye view, making it difficult to see what targeting is driving increases or decreases of an already-opaque metric. Similarly, the inability to separate out tablets from desktop searchers makes some wary; there are some markets that would be highly affected by this, such as downloads of a desktop program. While this is concerning to some, it may also outline an overarching corporate goal of Google: to make the world fast and universally accessible — contrary to ideas like single-platform apps and solutions off the cloud.

Misconceptions: Looks Naughty, but Is Nice!


But some, seeing the change as a step backward for targeting, have unfairly found fault with the update. Enhanced Campaigns eliminates confusion by changing locations of settings.  Many have said that the “mobile-only campaign” has disappeared from AdWords. On the contrary, AdWords provides a checkbox to help Google figure out what device an ad should be shown. Furthermore, ads with extensions such as App Store downloads that only make sense on certain mobile carriers and operating systems will be automatically targeted to those devices.

There’s also some worry about other platforms following suit. As BingAds has matured as a platform and international search engines have found monetization easier with cost-per-click ad auctions, it might follow that this grand experiment by Google will shape the industry. Yet BingAds has tried to forge its own path in the paid search realm; I can’t see them blindly following Google with its targeting any more than it already has — to wit, only slightly. But while the industry as a whole might not change, it is important to note the Google has over search ads, especially on mobile devices.

How to Win with AdWords Enhanced Campaigns

Best practices can already be parsed out from what has been released about AdWords Enhanced Campaigns, but they aren’t necessarily far divorced from current ones.

  1. Follow Google’s guide to transitioning your account to Enhanced Campaigns
  2. Be sure to take advantage of all appropriate ad extensions, which allow you to target you ads appropriately to device and location
  3. Ensure you’re using the most up-to-date version of AdWords Editor to effectively Enhance your Campaigns.
  4. Anticipate a variety of devices coming to your site by providing dynamic content and alternate conversion paths based on device
  5. Provide natural redirection to and from your mobile site if it’s required for your business to avoid issues when desktop ads show on mobile or vice versa
  6. Now more than ever, bid appropriately for your location, device, and time of day — the best strategy in a second-price auction like AdWords is to bid what that website visit is actually worth to you

We’re looking forward to learning more as marketers start experimenting with these new tools. What do you think? Will this change the way you’re doing PPC?