Paid search – enhanced campaigns revisited

It has been around six months since Google made migration to ‘Enhanced Campaigns’ compulsory for all Adwords accounts, so the time is ripe for a quick analysis of our own client data to see what effect this has had on the main metrics such as Cost per Click (CPC), Conversion Rate (CR) and Cost per Action (CPA). 

Enhanced Campaigns are designed to let marketers adjust keyword bids depending on three core variables – location, time of day and type – across devices, and all within the same campaign for the first time.

The major change brought about by Enhanced Campaigns was the inability to split campaigns by device, so the main concern for advertisers was whether mobile or tablet performance would be greatly affected.

Whilst mobile bids can be adjusted and ads created for mobile use, tablets have no such luxury and are essentially grouped together with desktops for all account management tasks.
A vast majority of Leapfrogg’s PPC clients work within the retail sector, so ROI is generally our main focus but there are many caveats when carrying out such a study including:

  • Seasonality
  • Changes in product lines
  • Site changes
  • Competitor activity
  • Shifts in strategic focus

When comparing the six months before the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns i.e. February to mid-July 2013, to the following six months to December 2013 we noticed the following changes:

1. A 40% increase in mobile impressions with tablet and desktop spend unchanged

2. A 30% increase in mobile spend with tablet and desktop spend unchanged

a. This follows the trend of increased mobile usage to a certain degree but is a large percentage increase nevertheless

3. Increased cost-per-click across all devices

4. Lower click-through rate across all devices

5. Increased conversion rate across all devices (we would hope that on-going optimisation of accounts should deliver this anyway)

6. A similar cost-per -action across all devices

The increase in conversion rate experienced by Leapfrogg clients has offset the increased cost-per-click, so we are paying around the same for our conversions now as before Enhanced Campaigns. This is probably not the case in many agencies however.

It is well documented how product listing cost-per-clicks have increased, partly due to increased competition no doubt, but cost-per-clicks on the whole, particularly on mobile, seem to have followed suit too.

Again, I need to stress that this is not scientific and there are too many variables for it to be reliable but it does make me wonder…does Google know many of its advertisers will be paying more for conversions due to higher cost-per-clicks?

The recent addition of ‘Estimated Total Conversions’ to Adwords reporting estimates how many extra cross-device conversions may have been generated and then adds this to your total. This seems to suggest they may be looking to prove extra value that we don’t necessarily see at the top line. However, I somehow doubt many advertisers actually take this data seriously.

Quality of leads is a better target than estimated conversions and a recent Google update has allowed uploading of offline conversions, which will help demonstrate that, particularly for lead-based businesses.

One thing is for sure though – you can’t completely control your cost-per-clicks as Google ultimately decides that, but you can improve your conversion rate. For this reason conversion rate optimisation is playing a much larger part in PPC advertising and will be an even greater level of focus for performance-led agencies such as Leapfrogg in the future.


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