Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns for Ecommerce: A Love-Hate Relationship

Since the release of Google’s Enhanced Campaigns, paid search campaigns through AdWords have taken a dramatic turn. Read on to learn some of the best, and worst, changes since its debut.

Google Enhanced Campaigns

If you’ve been running your own AdWords account for a while, you’ve probably heard of Enhanced Campaigns. But if you’re new to the world of paid search, or PPC, you might not be as familiar with the idea and its implications.

In a nutshell, the release of Enhanced Campaigns was the single biggest update that Google has ever made to AdWords. According to Google, the goal of Enhanced Campaigns is to “Provide the best search results for users, regardless of where they are and what device they’re using.” In addition to rolling out new functionality, Enhanced Campaigns significantly changed the way advertisers manage their PPC efforts on Google.

When Enhanced Campaigns was first announced, a lot of chatter sparked inside the Paid Search community around Google potentially taking away control from its advertisers. There was also a lot of skepticism around Google’s claims that Enhanced Campaigns would ultimately create better results for advertisers, especially since Enhanced Campaigns looked like it would be increasing Google’s profits.

Needless to say, when the deadline of July 22 rolled around, online marketers around the country had spent hours upon hours preparing for the change. In the weeks since, advertisers have been closely monitoring their campaigns for changes.

So as PPC professionals, what’s our opinion of Enhanced Campaigns for ecommerce? Is the update a good or bad thing? The answer is both – check out our take on the features we love, and several more that we love to hate.

What we love about Enhanced Campaigns

Sitelink-specific data

Sitelinks are additional links that advertisers can include in their ads to direct traffic to various pages on their site. Sitelinks will only appear if the ad shows in one of the top three ad positions.

For example:

Google Enhanced Campaigns Sitelinks

On Legacy campaigns (as pre-Enhanced Campaigns versions have come to be called), you could only create sitelinks at the campaign level, with all of the data for sitelinks being used together combined. This meant that you couldn’t tell which sitelink was performing best, only how all of the sitelinks for a campaign were performing overall. With Enhanced Campaigns, the data is sitelink-specific, which is especially helpful for ecommerce stores trying to test different promotions or calls to action.


Sitelink scheduling

The other great thing about sitelinks on Enhanced Campaigns is that they can be scheduled, which makes them incredibly dynamic. This means that if you’re running a time-specific promotion, you can generate a sitelink that only appears when the promotion is actually valid. This is going to be especially great for the holiday shopping season for ecommerce sites that choose to run short-term sales (like 25% off everything on Black Friday until midnight, etc.)!

Year-round, sitelink scheduling can be used to manage the customer experience by showing links like “Call Now” during business hours. By allowing these sitelinks to be scheduled, it prevents a negative customer experience that might result if an ad prompted a searcher to call, only to find out that the business is closed for the day.


Free call extensions

On Legacy Campaigns, if you wanted to include a phone number so searchers could click the ad to call your business, it was an extra $1 charge. On Enhanced Campaigns, however, call extensions are free! Online stores that receive a lot of phone orders or phone inquiries will find this highly beneficial.


Location bid multipliers are great for brick-and-mortar stores

While we’re primarily analyzing Enhanced Campaigns for ecommerce stores, we also know that some of you also have brick-and-mortar stores. The good news is that the bid multipliers allowed by Enhanced Campaigns are great for physical storefronts. Bid multipliers let you bid more for searches that are done closer to your physical location. On Legacy Campaigns, if you wanted to adjust your bids for a localized strategy, you needed to have different campaigns for each location needing different bids. With Enhanced Campaigns, however, you can manage all of that in one place.

The location bid multipliers also allow for the creation of an “advertising gradient.” This is because you can set up a bidding strategy where you pay a higher amount for clicks that come from searches close to your physical location, and then pay less and less as the searches get farther away.

For example, let’s say you have a retail store located in downtown Austin, and your standard bid for paid search campaigns is $1. To make the most of your physical location in relation to paid search, you could bid $1.75 for the area that’s within walking distance of your store, $1.50 for places that are within quick driving distance, $1.25 for areas that require a longer drive, and $1.00 (your standard bid) for the suburbs.

This idea can be best reflected in a visual representation:

Location bid multipliers

What we hate about Enhanced Campaigns

Goodbye mobile separation

With Legacy Campaigns, advertisers could (and frequently did) separate campaigns by device. Mobile advertising would have its own campaign, namely so they could leverage broader keywords, shorter ads and more mobile-friendly calls to action. Now, however, it isn’t possible to separate campaigns in this fashion.

By default, Enhanced Campaigns run ads on all devices. If advertisers are really opposed to mobile advertising, they can reduce their mobile bids by 100%, effectively removing a mobile focus from their campaigns. Keep in mind, however, that there’s no ability to do the opposite and bid down on desktop/laptop/tablets by 100% to advertise ONLY on mobile devices. Technically, you can create mobile-friendly ads, but you can only set them as “mobile preferred,” which means that there’s a chance that they’ll be shown on desktops and other devices – this makes executing a mobile strategy for an ecommerce site much more difficult.

Beyond that, there’s the issue of keywords. Without being able to separate out mobile campaigns, advertisers either have to bid on more general terms across all devices (which are better for mobile and tablet advertising, but are more expensive and have lower conversions on desktops and laptops) or bid on longtail keywords (which aren’t as successful on mobile and tablet advertising, but are ideal for desktops and laptops).


Bids are rising

Since the release of Enhanced Campaigns, we’ve heard reports of some advertisers’ cost-per-clicks (CPCs) growing as much as 30%. Most advertisers haven’t seen that dramatic of an increase, but across the board, CPCs are on the rise.

The increase in CPCs is likely due to two factors:

  1. Bid multipliers allow advertisers to change their bids based on location, time and day, demographics and device. While this feature is helpful from a targeting perspective, it makes it more difficult to determine how much you’ll be paying for a click, especially if you’re using multiple bid multipliers.For example, let’s say that your standard bid is $0.75 and you have the following settings in place: 1) a +50% bid multiplier in Texas, 2) a +40% bid multiplier for the weekends and 3) a +20% bid multiplier for mobile devices.This means that if a searcher in Dallas clicks your ad on Saturday from their iPhone, you could actually end up paying $1.89 for that click. That’s 2.5x higher than your standard bid, which really illustrates how costs can snowball!
  2. Mobile advertising is the new standard, which means that advertisers with well-crafted mobile strategies in relatively untapped markets are now experiencing a dramatic increase in competition that they otherwise wouldn’t have seen.


Sitelinks require manual upgrading

Upgrading your sitelinks is actually quick and easy, so transitioning them over isn’t a huge hassle. However, it wasn’t entirely clear during the upgrade process that sitelinks weren’t automatically being upgraded. As a result, some advertisers utilizing sitelinks may not even be aware that their sitelinks are currently inactive.


Keyword planner replaced the keyword tool

Although the Keyword Planner isn’t technically part of Enhanced Campaigns, it was rolled out in conjunction with the release of the new Enhanced Campaigns. The old Keyword Tool, while not entirely accurate, had predictable inaccuracy. It would constantly underbid keyword CPC estimates by perhaps $0.25-$0.50. The new Keyword Planner, on the other hand, has no consistency.

The listed CPCs are too high at times, too low at others and completely ridiculous the rest of the time. Sometimes the Keyword Planner gives a $0.00 CPC estimate (which would be great because that means your clicks would be free). Other times it doesn’t give any data, or it gives impossible data (like an average CPC of $0.04, which isn’t possible with a minimum bid of $0.05). Hopefully Google will smooth the issues out with the Keyword Planner, but in the meantime, the approach to keyword research is using more trial and error and trying to adapt.


Love it or hate it, when it comes to paid search campaigns, Google is still the biggest opportunity to help extend your business and boost sales. This means that it’s up to you, and paid search professionals like us, to adapt and keep moving forward.

What do you think of Google’s Enhanced Campaigns? What are the biggest differences you’re seeing for your online store? Let us know in the comments section below!

-Kate Pierce and Chelsea Cepeda, Volusion

If you need any help with your PPC now that you have been migrated over to Enhanced Campaigns, we have a team of specialized, AdWords certified PPC professionals ready to manage and optimize your PPC or conduct an AdWords Audit on your existing account.

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