Commentary

It's Time To Restore Keyword Bidding By Platform

Enhanced campaigns and universal campaigns give Google control of where ads go, with one notable exception. Last year, the importance of apps prompted Google to make an exception and allow advertisers to create separate mobile campaigns to encourage downloads and use. This practice needs to become the norm again, in my opinion, by allowing search engine marketing to bid on keywords by platform.

People tend to search differently depending on which device they use, so the value of a search term changes by platform. To get the perfect results, advertisers need the ability to adjust bids accordingly.

Search pros formerly developed campaigns with the desktop in mind. At that time, far more people were searching via desktop, and more of them would become customers. They would also do it faster. Mobile was an afterthought. Marketers only adapted campaigns to mobile when it made sense for a particular product and consumer base.

Today, with mobile searches skyrocketing, we need to prioritize mobile and we need to buy the right keywords, in the right places at the right prices, to make our advertising profitable.

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Google says it has this covered with enhanced campaigns and universal campaigns -- but I say not by a long shot.

In an enhanced campaign, we can only define groupings of keywords, with a master bid and a percentage by which we are willing to increase or decrease it. We have to leave the actual bidding to chance, because Google is controlling which ads appear where. There’s no way to ensure that an ad will be in the top three positions which are the only productive placements on mobile search, because users don’t scroll on phones.

Similarly, with Google’s Universal App Campaigns (UAC) we can bid on a query such as “best travel app” or “best shopping app,” and pay to be the No. 1 listing. We can’t dictate whether, or how, the ad will show up in general mobile searches; nor can we control whether it will trigger as a paid listing on Google Play. While Google will tell you there is a way to take manual control over placement, the process is so technical that most advertisers can’t begin to do it.

All this complication goes against the founding principle of search advertising --  the ability to connect with a prospective customer in the moment they are looking for something we sell. We pay to control the environment in which our ad is experienced.

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