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By Susan Waldes, Sr. Client Services Mgr.

Things have been all a-bustlin’ here at PPC Associates as our Account Managers got a series of calls from Google reps giving a gentle heads-up on Enhanced Campaigns and the expected launch (late Feb 6th). We were reminded over and over of our Google NDA and discouraged from even emailing about the new changes.

I am writing this before the official announcement, and we’ve had a few different breakdowns of what’s coming down. So, all this is subject to details of the official announcement when it comes through. Additionally, word is that you will be able to opt into “Enhanced Campaigns” as soon as the announcement is made, but nobody will be forced to change until June 2013.

Here’s what’s changing…and what we think about it:

1)      Campaign device settings will only have 2 choices: “Mobile”, or “Desktop and Tablet”. You will be able to bid up or down percentage-wise per device, analogous to how hour-of-day bidding works now.

OPINION: Off the cuff, I do not like the desktop and tablet combo. Though search behavior and click behavior is pretty similar per device, the types of conversion actions completed vary immensely. A quick email capture on tablet is similar, but what if you are pushing a software download as your conversion action? Does this mean you can’t opt out of tablets altogether? Or you would have to put a -%100 bid profile on tablets?

This will get especially sticky when people want to use Flash, which isn’t compatible with iOS, and can’t parse out tablets.

Also, savvy AMs often tailor messaging to the device user, and it sound like this won’t be possible any more via splitting campaigns. I haven’t seen the actual tools yet, but my prediction is that the PPC-sphere is going to be mighty vocal and against this change. This is the one to look out for a reversal from Google on.

2)      Geos will no longer be spilt out either at the campaign. You will be able to bid differently on different geos within the same campaign.

OPINION: I like the idea of fewer campaigns for this as long as the reporting and bidding capabilities to support it are at least as strong as the current system. Also, as long as you can still break out a geo if you want to in order to give it special messaging, etc.

3)      Enhanced Sitelinks are getting upgrades. Tracking will be available at the individual sitelinks, and ad scheduling can be applied to sitelinks.

OPINION: Regarding tracking, I can’t believe Google has just gotten around to this in 2013. Nonetheless, “Whoopee!!!” (as I roll my eyes). It’s about time. Regarding the scheduling, I’m thinking that 2013 might be the first year ever that SEMs get to actually take Thanksgiving weekend off? Maybe, just maybe?

4)      “Smarter Adsare introduced. This one is kind of vague. An example is that Google will only show your location extension to people in a certain geo – or, only show your click-to-call number during business hours.

OPINION: For small advertisers, this is great. However, by taking away control of when certain ad messaging or sitelinks show, Google is creating a mess for agencies like us who believe in ongoing controlled testing. Again, haven’t seen the tools or if you can opt in or out of this feature in isolate, but if they are taking more “testing capabilities” away, trust that the SEM talking heads are going to start screaming….loudly.

5)      Additional conversion point tracking is introduced. eBook and music downloads and phone calls (depending on length) will be able to be tracked as conversions.

OPINION: More tracking is great! The usability of this is dependent on the specifics of what is offered, so we’ll have to see.

 

This is probably the biggest platform update that Google has pushed live at one time in many years. It sounds like it will make advertising easier for small advertisers while also increasing the available complexity for larger ones. One thing to be aware of is that this change essentially (at least in the short term) breaks the conventions of just about every third-party bidding algo out there (which all rely on segmenting at the campaign level and bidding at the keyword level).

Hold on tight; it’s going to be an exciting and busy few months in the SEM space!

– Susan Waldes