Google Launches ‘Enhanced Campaigns’ To Manage Cross-Device Campaigns In AdWords

Google is rolling out a new AdWords system over the next few weeks called Enhanced Campaigns, which it’s pitching as a better way to advertise across multiple devices.

As described in the announcement blog post and a conversation that I had with a Google spokesperson, the goal here is both to simplify the campaign process and make campaigns more about reaching the desired users with the optimal ad, regardless of what device they’re using. In the post, Senior Vice President of Engineering Sridhar Ramaswamy writes, “Enhanced campaigns help you reach people with the right ads, based on their context like location, time of day and device type, across all devices without having to set up and manage several separate campaigns.”

The Google spokesperson told me that previously, if a business wanted to advertise on both desktop and mobile, they’d have to create separate campaigns. With Enhanced Campaigns, they create a single campaign that runs across devices, which can then be modified to accommodate different contexts — for example, an advertiser could bid less money to run their ads on mobile, or they could bid more to run their ads in a certain geography. Here’s an example from the blog post:

A breakfast cafe wants to reach people nearby searching for “coffee” or “breakfast” on a smartphone. Using bid adjustments, with three simple entries, they can bid 25% higher for people searching a half-mile away, 20% lower for searches after 11am, and 50% higher for searches on smartphones. These bid adjustments can apply to all ads and all keywords in one single campaign.

Other features highlighted by Google include the ability to customize the ad unit based on the context (so that a mobile ad, for example, could include a click-to-call button) and new reports that incorporate metrics like calls and downloads.

Starcom MediaVest says it has already been testing out the system, and Paul DeJarnatt, vice president and group director at Starcom USA, told me via email that there are “some positives and some limitations.” He said he’s excited about the advanced reporting and the “promise of things to come.” However, he suggested that Google also “went too far” in its attempt to simplify the process, and is now offering too few options for mobile and tablet targeting.

“Many of our clients have done extensive research and testing to uncover what is important to someone on a tablet versus a true mobile searcher, which may be altogether different from a desktop searcher,” DeJarnatt said. “While we may still have those insights, we now have no way to target our campaigns accordingly to serve the most relevant ad to the most interested audience. That seems to move away from Google’s mandate of delivering relevancy with every interaction with the search engine.”

Similarly, Adobe’s Bill Mungoven published a blog post pointing out that advertisers can no longer target their campaigns at tablets specifically. To a certain extent, that makes sense, he said, because “tablets really are used more like lap­tops or desk­tops than smart­phones.” But he argued that it also benefits Google because Google makes more money when tablet ads are lumped in with desktops.

DeJarnatt made a similar point, saying, “The largest beneficiary, at least at this stage, appears to be Google itself.” He suggested that Enhanced Campaigns could help small businesses, but added, “For sophisticated marketers and agencies, however, Enhanced Campaigns feels like a step back.”