Enhanced Campaigns: better context or just more money for Google?

From 22 July Google will be making its much-hyped Enhanced Campaigns available to everyone, under the banner of ‘Marketing for a constantly connected world'.

From 22 July Google will be making its much-hyped Enhanced Campaigns available to everyone, under the banner of ‘Marketing for a constantly connected world’.

But who will gain from the simplification of reaching people on the move? Small businesses looking to market directly rather than use an agency, large brands lacking sophisticated in-house search staff to run or, perhaps, Google itself?


The idea is pretty simple. People are increasingly searching beyond the desktop or laptop on smartphones and tablets. If you can tap in to the keyword and the device the person is on, as well as their location and time of enquiry, you should be able to learn a lot more about the context of their request. A search for takeaway pizza outlets is potentially going to be far more immediate sent from a mobile on the street around lunch time than a mid morning search from a desk top, for example.


From Google’s perspective, it’s going to get a lot easier to tap in to the context of search requests and enable brands of all sizes to set up campaigns easily and directly built around device, location and time of day parameters which suit their businesses most.


CPCs to rise?


It sounds a worthwhile cause and, to some extent it is, according to Greg Burgess, director of digital advertising at Found. However, he believes those familiar with mobile search are likely to agree that this is mainly about boosting mobile revenue for Google.


“You can pretty much do everything Enhanced is going to offer if you use a specialist who knows the tricks of the trade,” he says. “It’s just going to get a lot simpler.


“Simplification isn’t a bad thing but I also think this has a lot to do with pushing up mobile CPCs to boost Google’s revenues,” he adds. “At the moment mobile is an option in AdWords, it’s not switched on automatically. With Enhanced, it’s automatically added in to campaigns. It seems ironic, when this is all meant to be about putting brands in charge of whom they target through which channel, that you automatically have mobile switched on, whether it’s right for that advertiser or not.


“So it’s hard to believe this isn’t mostly about Google offering simplification on one hand but then ensuring campaigns have to run on mobile too, pushing up CPCs and driving more revenue for them.”


For brands which are currently using a specialist search agency to target mobile users Burgess believes the big difference will be higher campaign costs. Some of this will be because brands are actively targeting mobile users, because it has become simpler, but a lot will be because people running what would previously  have been desktop campaigns have no easy way of preventing their campaigns running on mobile too, pushing up demand for valuable keywords.


Burgess also believes a lot of brands playing with the new technology could end up paying extra for mobile campaigns targeted around location when his experience shows normally only one in ten or one in twenty brands actually benefit from proximity targeting.


Still an uneven field


Donovan Gabriel, search director at DBD Media, completely agrees, predicting that more bids flooding in to mobile search will inevitably push up CPCs. The impact will be quite the reverse of how Google presents the new technology as helping the little guy typically managing campaigns himself, rather than the big brands with expert search specialists managing campaigns.


“Even though it’s understood that Enhanced Campaigns will benefit all businesses, and initially it may, the reality is that big brands with big budgets will benefit most of all,” he believes. “We’ve all read the “Steve’s Estate Agency...” example on the Enhanced Campaigns site. However, as with desktop, it’s extremely difficult for a small independent business to compete with big brands. Once Enhanced Campaigns become mandatory, smaller brands will find it difficult to deal with the rapid increase in CPCs.


“The inability to manage bids manually will mean that device bids will increase when desktop competition increases, which was not necessarily the case before. Further, mobile paid advertising is going to grow exponentially, creating more competition and driving up cost across the industry.”


So, targeting people on the move by time of day and device is going to be a lot simpler through Enhanced Campaigns but there will be a price. The simplicity will encourage competition and the cost of reaching mobile device users will go up.

Simplicity will be offset, then, against the rising cost of reaching people who fit the time, place and device criteria a brand needs to prioritise.

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