Don’t “Enhance” AdWords Until You Read This!

By Todd Atkins trust us to do no evil Recently, Google released information about a big upcoming Google Adwords update that will be launched around June 2013. The update will affect how Google Adwords will segment mobile campaigns and different types of advertisements targeted at users with mobile devices. Google’s new update will allow advertisers to target mobile and tablet users more ‘efficiently’ with ads based on context – like location, device type, and time of the day in a single campaign.

Optimizing for Mobile Users

Google says that this update is due to the recognition that users are becoming increasingly more mobile, and using a variety of devices to find information and view ads. No argument there. Google is trying to optimize the AdWords experience to account for this type of user behavior, and allow advertisers to capitalize on the many ways internet users experience online ads. This update has three main parts:
  1. Campaign and budget management. Advertisers with a local presence can increase bids based on searcher’s location or type of device.
  2. Ads based on context. Advertisers can change ad content based on the type of mobile device.
  3. New conversion types. This will add click-to-call and app download data from mobile devices into Adwords performance data.
Currently, this update is optional, but will become mandatory around June 2013. AdWords users can switch over to this new platform while it is still optional to test the new mobile-targeting features. These are all good features for some advertisers, and may be very useful for those who want a simplified approach to managing AdWords.

Enhancement? Think Again

beware the deceptions of marchGoogle’s update for mobile devices is well-intentioned, but unfortunately will ultimately do more harm than good for most power users. In almost every Adwords campaign I’ve worked with, mobile devices and tablets perform much worse than computers and laptops, and often times need to be shut off completely, or have bids reduced by 50%-80%. However, Google is now removing these options as a “simplification” and “enhancement”, when in reality it will likely increase costs for advertisers because Google is taking away both the ability to control bids at the keyword level for mobile and tablet traffic, and also the ability to control daily budgets for these devices. Currently, advertisers have the ability to assign separate budgets and keywords for mobile and tablet devices by breaking them out into separate campaigns. Yes, this makes the whole system more complicated, but the trade-off is a lot more flexibility and ability to optimize your campaign. Many businesses either have no need or desire to target mobile or tablet users, and/or the performance of these campaigns isn’t worth the budget and effort involved in running them. The ability to control and/or remove mobile and tablet traffic from a campaign and to assign unique budgets and bids for mobile and tablet devices is important to avoid wasting budget on this traffic which tends to under-perform regular computer and laptop traffic on a cost per conversion basis.

Enhancement for Google, Negative for You

Google’s Adwords update will make the following negative changes:
  • For mobile traffic – You will no longer be able to have mobile-specific campaigns nor the ability to control bids at the keyword level. However, you will be able to adjust bids up or down on a percentage basis (based on the bids you set for computers) at the entire campaign level.
  • Tablets will be combined with desktop and laptops, which means that you will not be able to have tablet-only campaigns, not be able to adjust bids for tablet traffic at all, and not be able to opt out from tablet traffic. This is especially bad because tablets statistically tend to perform even worse than mobile on a cost per conversion basis.
Paranoid? Maybe, but we speculate that this is a way for Google to force people to spend more money on AdWords budgets since it will be difficult or impossible to opt out or bid lower for lesser quality traffic. AdWords Express is like this as well. We highly recommend that advertisers should resist this change until Google forces them to switch in June.

What the AdWords Update Should Include

enhanced adwords feature list Don’t get me wrong, some of these new features can be really powerful to some, perhaps many, users. Google’s update does provide many valuable features to localized businesses that gain a lot of value from mobile and tablet traffic, however this does not reflect the majority of AdWords users and will ultimately negatively affect campaigns for most businesses. Google should edit their update to allow the ability to opt-out of mobile and tablet traffic, include the ability to bid for unique keywords for mobile and tablet devices, and include the ability to adjust budgets individually for mobile and tablet rather than including those devices in with other segments of traffic. (In other words, they should leave these existing features in the system as they are now and not take away control from advertisers and try to spin it as an “enhancement”.)

What Can You Do to Help?

The PPC and online marketing communities are buzzing with frustration about this change, and petitions are circulating to ask Google to rethink this update. Online marketing professionals are hoping that the uproar and petitioning will cause Google to wait on the release of this update to amend it to serve the majority of AdWords advertisers better, and rethink removing these important features that advertisers rely on. Please call Google directly at 866-2-Google and tell them not to take away your ability to manage mobile and tablet traffic, and then sign the AdWords Update petition on change.org here to send a message to Google that this update needs to be amended.
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