(a version of this appears in MediaPost, today)
Wednesday’s announcement from Google greatly affects sophisticated advertisers. While the change will clearly drive adoption of mobile search advertising it is unfortunately at the expense of advanced marketers, such as our clients.
Being able to schedule different extensions based on time of day (for example, using phone extensions only when your call center is open) can be valuable and the concept of “smarter” ads – mobile-preferred ads, sitelinks, etc. – is nice. However, many marketers already manage this type of targeting through separate campaigns.
The notion of separate campaigns (or accounts) by device type, of course, is part of what Google is trying to cut down on. Google hopes to make it “easier” and require fewer assets to manage with one campaign for all devices and a handful of modifiers as opposed to duplicating or triplicating campaigns. It will certainly make it easier to spend more across device types – something that I’m sure Google is aiming for.
For smaller accounts and/or those with limited resources to manage paid search across devices, this has the potential to make things easier, though not necessarily as efficient from an ROAS perspective. But for larger marketing teams with the bandwidth and knowledge to manage their accounts more granularly, these changes will inhibit the control they’re used to.
These sophisticated marketers take advantage of a device type structure to easily control spend by device type or target specific transactions or returns. That will no longer be possible. Instead, marketers will need to adjust the mobile bid multiplier for each campaign. And, even then, that won’t impact spend on desktops, just on mobile. Even more troubling is that marketers won’t be able to advertise just on mobile. They’ll essentially be required to advertise on desktops even for mobile app downloads, for example, with a bid at least 1/3 of their mobile bid. We feel there will be a lot of pushback on this and Google will likely need to reexamine.
The other big change is doing away with tablets as a targetable device type. Google makes an argument for the blurring of the lines between laptops and tablets, and while we agree there’s some truth to the notion that users are finding laptops and tablets more interchangeable, there’s still quite a difference. There’s a lot of value in being able to target, bid and design for different screens. As our Q3 report showed, tablet users spent 30% more time on-site and had 20% higher Engagement Scores than PC users. This is a significant difference in behavior.
These changes will require some significant reworking of accounts, particularly for more sophisticated marketers with larger, more granular structures. The good news is none of it has to happen overnight. Google is announcing this now to make sure everyone has time to be comfortable with the new structure by Q4. Advertisers should pay very close attention to these changes and take the time to make sure they completely understand them before transitioning. That said, it’s imperative they migrate before Google does it for them. The auto-updating of legacy accounts this summer is not likely to be in anyone’s best interest.
IgnitionOne will be working with our clients over the next two months to minimize the impact and migrate to the enhanced campaign structure. We will also continue to work with Google as they roll this out and take into account the needs of their most sophisticated marketers.