According to a blog post released by Google on February 6, 90% of Internet consumers accomplish tasks through the use of multiple devices (desktop, tablet and mobile). On Wednesday, in an attempt to stay ahead of this changing user behavior, Google announced its most recent 'upgrade'? to AdWords ' enhanced campaigns. By June 2013, AdWords will be removing its campaign level device-targeting setting and will instead target all device types together.
This announcement has left many advertisers up in arms and for good reason. As a common best practice, paid search campaigns have been managed differently across mobile phones, tablets and desktops due to varying consumer intent, performance results, and costs. The roll out of enhanced campaigns will force advertisers to combine tablet and desktop performance and pay the same cost per clicks (CPCs) for both, regardless of previous efficiency advantages of targeting the devices separately. Additionally, mobile bids will be set as a multiplier of desktop and tablet bids, but knowing what that multiplier should be is still unclear to most advertisers. And if one device type is experiencing particularly high bounce rates, it will likely negatively skew total conversion rate performance if reporting can no longer be broken out by individual device. Stripping advertisers of their campaign control in this way begs the question: Is this just a ploy for Google to drive up CPCs across the board in the face of revenue concerns?
That is not to say that everything about the new interface is bad. By determining whether a user is browsing on their home/work computer or on-the-go, Google has the ability to tailor the most appropriate ads for the consumer's situation. For example, users searching for a restaurant from a desktop or tablet are probably interested in browsing the menu, whereas a mobile searcher is most likely looking for an exact location or directions. By having insight on where the search was initiated you can appropriately tailor search results to different situations, including the ability to bid higher or lower based on a user's location. Additionally, Google's enhanced campaigns will include reporting on an individual sitelink level. This is great news for advertisers who were frustrated with only being able to see performance data for a block of sitelinks, instead of having the ability to identify the best and worst performers. And by creating a less confusing AdWords experience, Google will likely boost their retention of new advertisers.
At a high level, the theory behind the AdWords changes sound great. But will the increased simplicity of ad creation and campaign management across multiple devices present new control challenges for paid search advertisers? Almost undoubtedly, yes. But isn't finding creative workarounds and new ways to 'beat the system'? half the fun?