Thursday, 21 February 2013

What Google’s latest change to AdWords means

Last week Google made a really crucial change to AdWords, the backbone of its search business. Christened as “Enhanced campaigns,” it’s all set to drastically change the way advertisers manage and track mobile advertising campaigns. It’s a move that will certainly affect how billions of people find information while using their mobile devices. And like any other change, it has both good and bad news for advertisers.

First, the good news. Instead of needing to create different campaigns to target consumers according to the device they use, advertisers can now do this within a single campaign using bid adjustments. In short, it means you, as a marketer, now need just one campaign for multiple devices: desktops, mobile devices, and tablets.

We all know that the foundation of any successful marketing campaign lies in its ability to track the buying behaviour of its TG. No doubt, AdWords has always allowed advertisers to reach potential customers based on their intent and that’s what makes it so effective. But now with “Enhanced campaigns,” advertisers can also capture the power of context – such as location, time of day, and device. Advertisers can now reach more people with relevant messages and will now be able to bid on keywords based on the time of day and location the search is coming from. For instance, a restaurant could bid 25% more on people searching for “lunch” or “dinner” after 11 a.m., and 30% more for someone in 1 km. radius. It could also bid more for people searching on a smartphone, and less for people searching on a desktop. So what’s bad about it? Hasn’t Google made it much easier for advertisers to run coordinated mobile and desktop AdWords campaigns targeting users based on their preferences and capabilities that used to be technically possible but far outside the reach of small and medium sized businesses?

Well, the bad news is that all those campaigns which were built keeping in mind the advertiser’s low-volume terms now need to be upgraded and re-engineered. In plain words, if you had previously made copies of the same campaign, one for desktop, and one for mobile, then you’ll need to merge those back together into one. Haven’t we learned to accommodate the quirky and unique nature of different devices? So, if Google is giving from one hand, it’s taking from the other.

Thus, the big question is: What you, as an advertiser, should be doing? I would say, relax! Since the full transition isn’t happening until June 2013, we have ample time to prepare (or even crib!). Moreover, if you take a quick trip down memory lane, you will realise that changes like this are not permanent. For instance, Google alters its PageRank algorithm over 500 times a year. In fact, if industry experts are to be believed, Google has a habit of trying something out and if it doesn’t work, they have no problem changing it back, thereby making their problem, your problem. So, while you are adapting to this new approach, abandoning what you have learned till date is definitely a bad idea.

The only thing you need to do is to get hold of your agency and move in tandem with Google and search engine optimizers (SEOs) to make sure landing pages bids and messaging jive with a people-centric approach as you migrate away from a device-centric approach. In other words, you have no choice, but to make your campaigns mobile!

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