Google’s AdWords changes are welcome but not without their drawbacks

Yesterday (February 6) Google announced some of the biggest-ever changes to its AdWords platform to reflect the increasingly complex consumer search habits.

Ronan Shields

Officially called AdWords Enhanced Campaigns, the changes effectively simplify the process of creating AdWords campaigns that can target users from across device types.

So instead of creating device specific campaigns for mobile, tablet and desktop, all devices can now be served within the same campaign and from the same interface. A significant removal of a barrier to entry according to most search specialists I’ve spoken to.

One of the key aspects of these changes include the introduction of bid adjustment meaning advertisers can modify their bid strategy based on a user’s time, location and device.

The upside is these changes should finally raise the price of mobile inventory – historically the poor relation in terms of value – and bring it more in keeping with desktop search value. This is good news for publishers.

While the rise in mobile inventory costs is almost inevitable, this is not necessarily bad news for brands. During the process of researching these wholesale changes, search specialist agencies told me brands are happy to pay this premium, provided it targets the right user within the right context. If done well, this should presumably produce the right result.

However, the changes also mean Google effectively takes greater control over brands’ location targeting by automating how and where an ad appears. As a result, brands must increasingly consider if they’re investing in the locations that bring the most return.

Google may well be sincere in its motivation for these changes by automatically optimising campaigns for mobile devices, it is essentially forcing everybody to ‘think mobile.’

But sources have told me the Enhanced Campaign changes also involve decreasing brands’ ability to target users by mobile OS. In addition, it also involves removing their control over their bid management at keyword level.  An element of control advertisers are unlikely to want to sacrifice for the greater good of the market.

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