How Google’s Enhanced Campaigns Affect Your Ad Scheduling Strategy
Before getting into ad scheduling strategies for Google’s Enhanced Campaigns, let’s review Paid Search Trends for March.
CPCs remained relatively flat month-over-month with little movement. Retail CPCs showed a slight decline for Google, showing relative softness compared to last year. It remains to be seen whether this is a temporary dip or a long-term indicator. Finance CPCs nudged up as the tax deadline approaches. Overall, Google CPCs are 1% up year-on-year, while Yahoo!-Bing is flat.
March 2013 Cost-per-Click (CPC) Update, US Search
And now, we’ll discuss ad scheduling strategies for Google Enhanced Campaigns, providing some revenue-per-click (RPC) trends due to ad scheduling. With a little knowledge and effort, these strategies can be used to improve your overall ROI.
Google’s announcement of Enhanced Campaigns last month made large waves in the paid search space. Among other changes, the option of creating device-targeted campaigns will be deprecated in favor of device-unified campaigns with mobile bid modifiers. In the new campaigns, desktop and tablet devices will be grouped, and mobile devices bid to a percentage of the desktop and tablet bid.
The implications of this change in terms of losing the ability to set device-specific bids at the keyword level has seen plenty of commentary, but one aspect of this change has not been discussed: its impact on ad scheduling.
Scheduling On Enhanced Campaigns Apply Across Devices
With Enhanced Campaigns, you can still adjust bids by day-of-week or time-of-day. The problem is that the same schedule is applied across all devices, even if RPC (revenue per click) trends are different. Whereas before, you could make separate campaigns for desktop and mobile, setting different schedules. This option is no longer available short of creating separate campaigns targeting separate times of the day, which is impractical in most cases.
Day-of-week and dayparting strategies are informed by two factors, RPC and CPC patterns, where the latter represents market competition. Allocating more budget toward days or times when CPCs are cheaper and RPCs are higher lead to better average ROI.
A basic ad scheduling strategy is to adjust the bids in proportion to the change in RPC. For example, if RPC is 20% lower on weekends, one might also shift bids lower by 20%. A similar strategy applies to dayparting, where bids can be raised or lowered according to the RPC by time-of-day.
For Enhanced Campaigns, the simplest solution is to set a static mobile adjustment factor to the average RPC ratio between devices: [mobile RPC] / [desktop + tablet RPC]. However, sophisticated marketers may want to consider changing the mobile adjustment factor on a daily basis, if significant differences in RPC trend occur across devices.
For example, below is a real-world example of day-of-week RPC trend by device. Desktop and tablet trends similarly, while smartphone trends are quite different. This causes the RPC ratio to vary by day-of-week.
In a simple strategy for the above scenario, you can set a static mobile bid modifier of 66% for the entire week, as this is the average difference in conversion rate between smartphones and desktops + tablets. A more complex strategy would change the mobile bid modifier on a daily basis according to the RPC ratio for each day of week.
This method also applies to dayparting, though this means more time-intensive campaign management. Using a platform or tool that allows bulk changes and advance scheduling on bid modifiers will help to implement such a strategy.
CPC Trends Across Devices Will Become Similar
Marketing competition tends to rise and fall as advertisers shift bids or run out of budget through the day and week, which causes average CPCs to shift accordingly. Currently, these patterns vary by device, but as the Enhanced Campaigns migration completes, I predict that these differences will diminish.
Though CPCs for smartphones will remain lower with respect to desktop and tablet, the relative trend on smartphones will end up being directionally similar to desktop and tablet counterparts, as the number of advertisers making frequent changes to bid modifiers will be limited. Also, since campaign budgets are shared across devices for Enhanced Campaigns, automatic pacing and budget depletion will also occur simultaneously.
Tips For Marketers On Ad Scheduling For Enhanced Campaigns
- If you are currently using or considering ad scheduling for your campaigns, this is a good time to revisit your strategy, as Enhanced Campaigns will affect your available options.
- A basic strategy is to set to the mobile bid modifier to the RPC difference between mobiles and desktops/tablets: [mobile RPC] / [desktop + tablet RPC].
- For campaigns where RPC trends vary by device, consider making intra-week or intra-day adjustments to mobile bid modifiers in order to improve overall ROI.
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