American Marketer


Google lumping together desktop and mobile ads: Good or bad?

March 19, 2013

Ori Carmel is vice president of performance strategy at MediaWhiz


By Ori Carmel

Google’s recent announcement that it is making significant changes to AdWords shook up the online marketing industry.

Unveiling what it calls “Enhanced Campaigns,” the changes are designed to help marketers “more simply and smartly manage [their] ad campaigns in today’s multi-device world.”

Adding words
There are two main aspects of Enhanced Campaigns that mobile marketers should consider.

First, Google AdWords Enhanced is designed to help marketers by providing new bid adjustments, customizable ad formatting and simplified reporting.

If you have been hesitant to push towards mobile ad distribution, fear no more.

Google will help you adjust ads to fit almost all devices, and report back on performance.

To understand the impetus for the push, one can look at Google’s AdWords revenue to recognize the need for new revenue channels.

Google has experienced diminishing revenue from AdWords for a while now.

In fourth-quarter 2012 revenues dropped by around 6 percent. This, coupled with an untapped potential in the mobile space, particularly for small- and midsized advertisers that have been Google’s bread and butter, is at the core of the enhancement.

Second, Google’s changes to AdWords will help the large majority of advertisers take their first steps in a previously unrealized marketplace. It allows advertisers with small or limited budgets to control the type of ads they want displayed, when, on what device and for how long.

Enhanced Campaigns should simplify the complexity of advertising with and through Google. It will also alleviate advertisers’ fears of creating, controlling and optimizing mobile campaigns across multiple devices.

But therein lays a slight problem. This simplification of mobile advertising will present a challenge for more sophisticated advertisers, who are generally more familiar with mobile advertising.

These challenges will arise in two ways.

Campaign trial
First, Google is lumping together desktop and mobile ads.

Even within mobile ads, Enhanced Campaigns lumps together different devices, such as smartphones and tablets, which often exhibit different user behavior statistics.

This combining of ad offerings across different devices and user platforms will serve Google well in increasing its cost-per-click metrics. But it will make attribution and optimization modeling more difficult for more experienced and sophisticated mobile marketers.

Those marketers who are already advertising in the mobile space, and who are seeking ways to find higher efficiencies in their mobile ads, will find things a bit more challenging moving forward.

The second challenge brought on by Enhanced Campaigns pertains to attribution modeling.

This new initiative does not fully resolve marketers’ quest for a holistic consumer behavior attribution model.

Furthermore, Enhanced Campaigns will not lead to a deeper understanding and accountability for how mobile behavior and use habits fit into such a model.

There are still outstanding questions about tying mobile, desktop, tablet and offline behavior into a coherent and complete attribution model.

The simplification of ad offerings that Enhanced Campaigns allows may not take mobile marketers back in terms of understanding this attribution, but it certainly does not push the industry forward either.

There are concerns that Google’s changes to AdWords will limit mobile-specific advertisers’ ability to specifically target users across different devices. This should not be a long-term concern.

At some point, Google is likely to segment its AdWords Enhanced offering to accommodate different levels of campaign management and intricacy.

OVERALL, GOOGLE ADWORDS Enhanced should have a long-term positive impact on mobile advertising.

Indeed, it will bring more players into mobile and tablet advertising and open it to more competition, which will benefit consumers. It will certainly push more advertisers to raise their game with their mobile ad campaigns. And, for Google, it will put a stop to its cost-per-click bleeding.

Ori Carmel is vice president of performance strategy at MediaWhiz, a New York-based integrated digital media and performance marketing agency. Reach him at