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Enhanced Campaigns: New Opportunity for Display Campaigns

As expected with one of the biggest feature changes to hit Google AdWords in years, there are many implications of Enhanced Campaigns that reach far and wide into the different depths of advertisers’ existing programs.  One new feature is going to have a big impact on display campaigns running on the GDN -- in a good way. It doesn’t have a zippy name, but drilling down through the AdWords Help blog you can now find a section about new bidding features on the Display Network.  The instructions describe how to switch to the new bidding setup once you’ve migrated your display campaigns to Enhanced Campaigns. What is so great about this new bidding feature? It allows you to pick and choose where you want the destination URL and bid to live by target type for each campaign.  Previously, when we layered in different types of targeting into a GDN campaign, we had to observe a strict hierarchy to determine the right level to place the destination URL and bid. Why would you layer different targeting types for display campaigns?  To get at a more specific group of people.  Similar to layering in day-parting rules, geo-locations, and keywords, it helps narrow the field of potential users and, hopefully, yield you better results. For example, if you want to retarget people with ads if they’ve been to your site and have not converted, but only when they are on a site that is discussing content related to your products, you might try layering a remarketing list with a list of specific placements (or broader topics) to capture only users in that select group. As illustrated in the Venn diagram below, this would allow us to only show ads to the users that would occupy the overlapping purple space. AdWords set its previous structured hierarchy based off of what they determined to be the most granular way to target.  Here’s what the order used to look like, from most specific to least specific:
  1. Managed Placements
  2. Topics
  3. Interest categories & remarketing
  4. Keywords
  5. Default Ad Destination URL
Meaning, for the diagram above, Google would have suggested that users reading those blogs were a better indicator than the fact that particular user had shopped around your site.  If you didn’t observe the hierarchy, AdWords would do its best to correct it for you. Below are some examples from another AdWords Help page that include one example of what would happen if you didn’t follow the hierarchy and neglected to provide a destination URL for the most specific method from the above list.

Examples Prior to Enhanced Campaigns:

In this example, Google would use the keyword destination URL, www.example.com/flowers_roses.html, when the impression is served. In this example, Google would use the managed placement destination URL, www.example.com/flowers_tulips.html, when the impression is served. In this example, Google would use the ad's destination URL, www.example.com/garden_tools.html, when the impression is served. Now it isn’t often that you would have 3 different URLs for a keyword, placement and ad all in the same ad group, but if you were using those destination URLs with unique tracking parameters based on those criteria, it would make a difference. So in the last case, if we thought that the presence of the keyword “white rose bouquet” was more important or indicative than the fact that it was serving on “flowerarrangementblog.com” and we wanted the ad to serve because of that match instead of the placement match, we would lose out.  AdWords would have predetermined that the placement was most critical in connecting the dots between your ad, and ultimately your products, instead of the keyword.

Custom Bidding Under Enhanced Campaigns

With the change to the bidding feature now available on the GDN, you can pick where you want your custom bid to live.  The new bidding menu has been slowly rolling out to accounts since they’ve announced the change to Enhanced Campaigns, so don’t panic if you haven’t seen it yet. Additionally, you must upgrade each particular campaign to Enhanced Campaigns to start seeing the options populate.  However, once the “custom bidding” button appears in the Display Network tab in the campaign, you can start choosing which targeting level you’d like to set. In addition to choosing which targeting level (keywords, placements, or audiences) gets to be bid with the custom bid feature, you’ll be able to apply bid adjustment factors at the ad group level for the targeting types that aren’t selected. For example, if we choose to make placements our targeting and bidding type for a specific ad group, we can then apply the bid adjustments, which range from -90% to 900% for interest categories or retargeting lists also in that ad group.  The only exception here is that keywords can only be chosen as a custom bid targeting level and are not subject to bid adjustment percentages. In regards to our previous ad group example, there are two outcomes: choosing the keyword as the custom bid or the placements as the custom bid.  Under scenario 1, “white rose bouquet” gets a set CPC or CPM bid and we could, if we wanted to, apply a percentage adjustment to the placement “flowerarrangementblog.com” of -20%.  Under scenario 2, “flowerarrangementblog.com” would hold the bid, and no adjustment factor would be applied to the keyword. So which method is best to follow?  Are keywords, placements, audiences, or topics the best indicator for a person’s purchasing intent or the best structure to find the ideal bid?  Do the bid adjustment multipliers on top of the custom bids help refine or skew the results? We can’t say for sure yet, but it is definitely something we will be testing to find the best practice for this new set of options.
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