Google celebrates the 50th anniversary of Bruce Reynolds and Ronnie Biggs’ mastermind 1963 Train Robbery by pulling off a stunt of their own.

The Plan

Like other agencies across the UK we are acutely aware of our middleman relationship between Google and our Clients.

As part of Google Agency status we are assigned a Google Rep with whom we have regular chats on how we can improve our accounts. These chats would be once a quarter at best, but lately we have been in weekly contact.

Whilst it could be that we have recently had a new representative and that they are just much better at their job, I am more inclined to be cynical and hazard a guess that this is part of a concerted drive for Google to improve their profit margins. After last quarter’s results it was clear that Google’s main source of revenue, Ad Sales profit, has shrank around 6% year-over-year; mainly due to lower CPC’s.

These results came to the fore just as Google decided to go ahead with Enhanced Campaigns mandatory launch and I am assuming that Google is using this to drive up its search revenue. It would make sense right? They are still a profit driven company after all.

So how do Google’s Enhanced Campaigns fill the deficit?

By making companies pay more for their mobile clicks.

So in the glory days, it used to be that advertisers could target Mobiles, Tablets and Desktops differently by creating specific campaigns. Everything could be tailored to mobile devices, right down to the network the user was using. This is no longer possible though and should you want to advertise to mobiles, you now have to advertise to desktops too; and vica versa. This means your budget is spread much more thinly across devices, and without careful management the result you were after is going to cost you a lot more to acquire! There are ways to game the system, but if you follow Google’s recommendations, it’s not going to work out well.

So say you’re the owner of Emergency Locksmiths. The chance of someone hiring your services is infinitely higher on a mobile… You want your limited advertising budget to be targeted to the poor chap who is desperately patting his pockets outside his front door, Right?

Tough. With Enhanced Campaigns you’re advertising primarily to desktops and it’s clearly not always in our client’s best interest to be lumped with advertising to both, but this is exactly what Google recommend. Mobile is the fastest growing area of Google Searches and this update to Google’s advertising platform is purely to corral companies into advertising their website to all gadgets and devices.

The Hold Up

Over the last few months, our Rep has been pointing out that half my clients don’t have Mobile specific adverts, (a new feature introduced in Enhanced Campaigns) and that I should use more of them in my accounts.

I had to point out that most of my clients do not have a website that is ready for Mobile users, so I have reduced their bid to mobile devices by 100% to avoid wasting their budget. Why would I then waste my time making mobile specific adverts?

We have also found that when Mobile Specific adverts are in an adgroup, the normal desktop adverts are still showing to mobiles? What’s the point in having the mobile specific adverts if Google ignores them anyway? As you can see from the table below, not only will Google show the wrong advert, but it will be in a higher average position, CTRs are better and it will be cheaper. Swindle!

adwords-data

Not only that, but being specifically for mobiles, you would think that these adverts would look good on Mobiles Devices. Nope.

Although the same character limit applies to Mobile Ads as to desktop adverts, should you have call extensions enabled, Google will butcher your advert and shorten the description lines; Especially on certain mobile models. Like iPhones. See the second advert down in this image:

mobile-google-serp

The Getaway

In the States, Train Robberies are an accepted part of the culture and Google has been actively pitching Enhanced campaigns to its American advertisers. See this blog.

Here in the UK Google would have to pay more tax if they were found to be directly selling to their customers, so instead explaining/pitching Enhanced Campaigns has been delegated to us, the agencies. So as Agencies are becoming more important to Google to bypass these regulations, so our Google Representatives become more active in pitching Enhanced Campaign features to us. More money, more money.

Unfortunately for Google, our best interests lie in protecting our clients and becoming a sort of cheesy version of the Buckinghamshire Constabulary. Much like the Buckinghamshire Constabulary though, we are useless in holding the ringleaders to account and instead were more likely to be viewed by our clients as the 14 hapless accomplices.

Google has had plenty of bad rap for Enhanced Campaigns over the last few months, but you have to hand it to them, it’s a mastermind and I wouldn’t be surprised if their Q3 results show them raking it in.