On February 6, 2013 Google introduced Enhanced Campaigns, a modification to its AdWords program which it called a “first step to help you more simply and smartly manage your ad campaigns in today’s multi-device world.” The reaction from the internet marketing community was mixed.   Many marketers noted that there were both good and bad aspects, others like Paul DeJarnatt of Starcom USA calling it a “ step back” for his clients.

Google is touting Enhanced Campaigns as a way to simplify campaigns by allowing advertisers to contextualize offers based on such factors as location, time of day, and device type. One example cited on their product blog was a pizza restaurant who gave a different offer to someone on a cell phone a half-mile away than a desktop user in an office before opening time. In another, cell phone users searching for a national retailer would be offered customer care center numbers and store locations, while desktop users would be routed to the ecommerce site. Google claims that allowing for bid-adjustments based on device type while supporting deeper analytics and a more granular understanding of customer context will allow for more efficient advertising spending. To simplify campaign development, Google is promoting the ability to manage all campaigns from a single dashboard location, regardless of device type or offer.

Internet marketers were quick to cry “foul” over one provision of the Enhanced Campaigns announcement that lumps tablets together with PCs. Previously, internet marketers were able to differentiate cell phones from tablets, but also tablets from PCs. Now Google had decided not only that tablets aren’t mobile, they are essentially desktops. This is important for a broad range of advertisers whose experiences were summarized in a January study by Adobe:

“…(P)aid search conversion rates for tablets are 20% higher than desktops, and paid search conversion rates for smart phones are 42% worse than desktops. If you factor in that Cost-Per-Clicks (CPCs) on tablets are 30% lower than on desktops, paid search ROI on tablets is a whopping 70% better than desktops.”

Internet marketers were quick to call ‘shenanigans’ on what they saw was a move by Google to bill the exploding market for tablet ads at the higher PC rate. Additionally, keyword-based campaigns will no longer be mobile-only and must include a PC component. Finally, advertisers will no longer be able to target ads by operating system.

Google did a slow-rolling introduction of Enhanced Campaigns initially, but today is in full force and now is focused on the importance of mobile. It may adjust the provisions if enough internet marketing services object. However, over the next six months there are things you should keep in mind:

1. Don’t rush. Once advertisers make the shift, Google won’t let them revert to the old system. No one has seen the tools Google has promised for the transition. Assume there isn’t compatibility with your present campaign management tools. Make sure to wait until you’re ready before you convert.

2. Take another hard look at your best mobile and desktop keywords based on conversion rate. It’s a given that you will need to assign bid multipliers of “0” or “-100%” to keywords that will show up on either mobile or desktop searches that previously were blocked. Make certain you know which to put in the right slot, now that you can no longer block keywords based on device type.

3. Evaluate the impact of Enhanced Campaigns on your business, particularly the loss of device targeting data. There are precedents (the rollback to the changes in the Ad Rotation policy, for example) for Google adjusting its stance in the face of customer opposition. Let Google know if you are adversely affected.

There are welcome aspects to the announced Enhanced Campaigns changes, but whether simplicity is being purchased by the loss of too much transparency is a question internet marketers will have to evaluate for themselves.