Pay per click (PPC) marketers everywhere undoubtedly have July 22, 2013 circled on their calendar. That's the date when Google will automatically upgrade all AdWords accounts from legacy to enhanced campaigns that haven't already made the switch. And those who aren't prepared for the transition are in for quite a change, say the experts.
With this shift, Google is essentially altering the way AdWords bidding and targeting is managed and eliminating the option to separately target phones, tablets, and computers. Historically, many PPC marketers have separated campaigns for reasons such as varying costs, differing URLs, and segmented messaging. Now, they'll be forced to adjust their PPC strategies to adapt by targeting all platforms in one campaign. Additionally, enhanced campaigns will offer the option of a mobile bid modifier-meaning advertisers can bid a percentage up or down for mobile devices.
"This is a move to force website owners to have mobile-friendly sites, both for smartphones and tablets," says Paolo Vidali, senior digital marketing strategist for DragonSearch.
Victor Tang, online strategy marketing manager with Sage Software, says enhanced campaigns offer several benefits. "Advertisers will be able to provide context in terms of time, such as if their store is currently open or closed, depending on when their ad is viewed," Tang says. "Also, an advertiser will be able to aggressively bid for customers who are searching for your related keyword if they're closer to your store location. So you not only become geographically relevant to customers, but you can offer mobile-specific discounts if you know someone is close to you looking for your keywords."
But while the AdWords transition will allow for a more seamless experience from one device to another, which can generate more sales and leads, it may also result in increased workloads and client spends. Sarah Peduzzi with LunaMetrics is particularly concerned that increased mobile and tablet competition will lead to higher cost-per-clicks, since advertisers have limited options as to what device they can target. In addition, many small advertisers may not have a mobile- or tablet-ready site and may see traffic increase.
"More traffic is great, but if your site is not friendly for those users, they will bounce pretty quickly," Peduzzi says.
Hence, electronic content providers need to be sure their web sites are ready for prime time on all possible devices. "Digital publishers and content providers need to shift to responsive (web) design. The state of the web involves consumption across so many devices today that publishers need to better account for how their target audiences are viewing their content," says Tim Jensen, senior website strategist at Overit.
To best ready your business for the AdWords transition, Jensen suggests upgrading now instead of waiting until July 22 and making sure that any URLs you link to are functional across all devices.
Additionally, be aware that phone numbers in ad copy will be blocked (although you can still have a phone number in an ad extension that appears beside or below the ad), which will reduce the return on investment of businesses that rely on phone calls for lead generation.
"Previously, a searcher could see the ad in the text and call without clicking; now, click-to-call is being pushed, and the amount of screen real estate for numbers has been reduced, so those free impressions without clicks that generated leads will be tough to chase," Vidali says.
To ease the shift to enhanced campaigns, Aaron Levy, PPC team lead for SEER Interactive, and Vidali recommend the following best practices:
- Don't force a site on to mobile just because Google is suggesting that you should; carefully examine the competitive landscape and your own before forcing ads onto phones.
- Pay close attention to the new bid modifiers; you can wind up increasing bids to 1,800% above what you had them set to before.
- Consider dropping mobile bids 20% to start, and adjust as necessary once enough data has been collected.
- Consider initially removing mobile traffic by reducing bids by 100% for higher-spending campaigns where per-click costs are prohibitive (unless there is compelling conversion data to justify the spend).
For more details on Google's upgrade to enhanced campaigns, click here.