In case you haven’t heard already, this morning Google announced some absolutely mega epic changes to the AdWords platform. They claim the changes will empower smaller businesses to ‘more simply and smartly manage your ad campaigns” across multi platforms. In actual fact, they are forcing all advertiser to advertise on mobile (unless you opt out) and as a result the CPCs on mobile devices will most likely rise to the levels they already on desktop devices.

To state the obvious, mobile technology is evolving incredibly quickly. Last year in the UK 45% of internet users used their smartphones to access the internet and a whopping 25% of all internet users ONLY use their smartphones. In the states on Cyber Monday – 13% of all online sales were made via a mobile device!

With that in mind, I read  a crazy stat the other day (from the IAB) that said over 40% of brands still don’t have mobile optimised sites – that’s quite frankly ridiculous and a massive opportunity/missed revenue stream for those medieval brands.

In line with the increased usage of internet (and therefore search) on mobile devices, Google have continuously been under pressure to capitalise and monetize this increase. Similar to Facebook’s problems it’s been a little harder to advertise on mobile devices. This is, amongst other things, down simply to the size of the screen and therefore lack of space for ads. But a change like this should really not come as a surprise; Google are simply desperate to increase their market share in this ever growing space that is ‘mobile’.

The changes are rolling out slowly starting today over the coming weeks, with all campaigns to be ‘enhanced’ by June this year.

A pessimist’s view might be that Google are merging mobile and desktop advertising in an attempt to increase their revenue. Historically, mobile CPCs have been much lower than the same keywords on desktops as mobile visits were deemed to be less valuable. This change will almost certainly up the mobile CPC to align with desktop. This will almost certainly increase the revenue Google are making on their mobile ads. Bravo.

 

Bearing in mind I’m yet to see the changes in action and therefore have no data to back up my thoughts, the following pros and cons are merely my knee-jerk reactions to the announcement:

 

 

Pros

  • Power to small businesses that manage their own AdWords campaigns whilst running a restaurant/flower shop at the same time. It’s like AdWords express – but with more features*.
  • Sitelink level tracking and ad extensions at the ad group level – this is great, although I’d heard rumours they were rolling this out anyway last year at some point.

 

Cons

  • No mobile only campaigns
    We already have separate mobile campaigns – which are arguably easier to manage. You can see stats for mobile and desktop at a glance separately.
  • Forcing you to advertise on mobile
    If you want NOT to advertise on mobile – you have to decrease the mobile bid adjustment by -100% so that your ad’s won’t show up on mobiles. A bit long winded if you ask me. By default you will advertise on mobiles.
  • Loss of control and granularity.
    With this so called ‘simplification’ you actually lose a great deal of control, granularity and transparency. This might be fine for your one-man-band selling cupcakes but for agencies managing huge accounts it’ not idea – we need that granularity!!
  • Default bids will now be set at the desktop/tablet level.
    Tablets and desktops are effectively now treated as the same thing – Google claim that their data shows search behaviour to be almost identical on tablets as with desktops. Not according to the data we can see!!
    We know for a fact that for some of our clients targeting tablets has generated much better return for particular campaigns – these have also tended to be at lower CPCs – now we will be forced to pay desktop CPCs which are usually a fair bit higher; therefore reducing the ROI.
  • No targeting by OS
    We’re losing the ability to target people via their operating system. The only part of this that will remain (but at the mercy of Google’s automation) is if you have a click-to-download app ad, Google assure us they’ll only show these on devices that can download the app.

NB: This is only my knee-jerk reaction to the announcement – without actually using or experiencing the “enhanced campaigns” myself. Once we get access – we’ll have a play around, get some actual data and report back then. Maybe I’ll have to eat my hat!

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