Google-Enhanced Campaigns: Migration Or Migraine?

Capping off arguably its biggest move since the launch of AdWords, Google now plans to migrate all of its advertisers to Google Enhanced Campaigns on July 22.  There’s obviously been a lot written and said (and even feared) about the potential impacts of this move, but let me provide somewhat of a pragmatist’s take on the pending debut of Enhanced Campaigns:  Brace yourselves for headaches, but there are some cool features coming, too. 

I remember buying my first Google campaigns from a three-ring binder a dozen years ago!  Needless to say, a lot has changed within Google and the broader search landscape since that time, but as with any sort of major move, it’s wise for all of us who are in the search industry to go into this with our eyes wide open.

First, let’s be clear: One of the major reasons Google is making this change is that mobile grew faster than Google (and almost all of us, for that matter) thought it would or even wanted it to.  It’s been widely documented that Google anticipated that mobile search would surpass desktop later this year, but this significant torch has already been passed.  With this in mind, Google has essentially determined that it’s now time for ALL of its advertisers to go mobile, even if many (more about this below) aren’t ready.



So here’s a breakdown of some the practical ramifications associated with Enhanced Campaigns:

-- Even more inflated cost-per-click rates for mobile.  July 22 is not yet here, but we’re already seeing mobile CPC rates that are frankly beyond reason.  With the automatic migration of all Google-based campaigns to include mobile, these CPC rates are likely to go up even more.  My own view is that these rates are eventually going to be in for a correction, but time will tell.

 -- Businesses have to embrace mobile when they’re just not ready. Major brands and agencies are in decent shape for having their sites optimized for mobile -- but for many small- and medium-sized businesses, there’s a sobering reality that come July 22, they won’t have the ability to opt in or out of mobile search marketing.  So, tough luck for them if their sites aren’t optimized or ready for the mobile traffic that stands to be coming their way soon.

-- Desktop computers and tablets are ONE.  With Enhanced Campaigns, Google advertisers can’t opt in or out of desktops or tablets; they will have to treat them as one combined grouping.  What stands to make this perplexing is that marketers WILL be able to monitor the performance of desktop versus tablet, but as things currently stand, they will not be able to make adjustments or allocations based on this information.  

Recent history has shown that Google has been listening to concerns from its customers, so I’d encourage anyone in the industry who has specific concerns to voice them.  All this being said, there are some positives associated with Enhanced Campaigns, too:

-- More granular reporting. Advertisers have had some legitimate beefs with Google’s reporting offerings to date, but better stuff looks to be on the way, including multi-device attribution.

-- More geographic flexibility. Google advertisers will be able to develop a series of specific targeting strategies based on geography within one campaign, not having to create score of individual campaigns to make this happen.

-- Improved social annotations and click-to-call offerings. While many businesses aren’t yet ready to embrace mobile, more are onboard with social media, and Google is making social annotations better and easier for businesses to incorporate.  On the click-to-call front, we expect this offering to be free-of-charge with Enhanced Campaigns.

As with any major change, we’re likely to see a certain population love Enhanced Campaigns, another grouping hate it and a gaggle of industry observers (including me) who are somewhere in the middle.  I am encouraged to see a lot of interest, as the pending launch of Enhanced Campaigns is a big deal and all of us stand to be affected.   Stay tuned, and I will weigh in periodically with more thoughts from the front lines.    

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