Google courts mobile campaigns with AdWords changes

Google’s changing the way it sells sponsored links in search results, in a move aimed at boosting its mobile advertising.

In the past, AdWords customers have booked sponsored search results separately for different platforms. But the new Enhanced Campaigns program sees users booking for PCs, smartphones and tablets from a single dashboard, even where ad campaigns differ across different platforms.

“For example, a pizza restaurant probably wants to show one ad to someone searching for ‘pizza’ at 1pm on their PC at work (perhaps a link to an online order form or menu), and a different ad to someone searching for ‘pizza’ at 8pm on a smartphone a half-mile from the restaurant,” says senior vice president of engineering Sridhar Ramaswamy in a blog post.

“With enhanced campaigns, instead of having to cobble together and compare several separate campaigns, reports and ad extensions to do this, the pizza restaurant can easily manage all of this in one single place.”

Clearly, the company’s hoping that the change will encourage more advertisers to include mobile in their campaigns. It’s also likely to push the price upwards, something Google clearly needs: its cost-per-click fell six percent last year, and 15 percent the year before, although in the last quarter it’s risen very slightly once again.

“I think the changes make a lot of sense. Right now there are a bunch of advertisers that opt out of mobile search because they think (incorrectly) that the ROI of mobile search isn’t there,” says founder and CTO of search marketing firm WordStream.

I believe that the ROI of mobile search is very compelling – you have a lot of valuable leverage, like precise location, immediacy, commercial intent, and 1-click-to-call going for it. It’s always been a matter of just getting the advertiser to adopt the somewhat complicated best practices in terms of campaign setup and reporting to realize these benefits. By simplifying this process, I’m confident that you’ll see an uptake in mobile advertising adoption and ROI.”

The new system will be instroduced by June.