How Display Campaigns Are Becoming Enhanced

Google Display Network LogoDisplay campaigns didn’t lose out on all the glory when Google announced Enhanced Campaigns recently. Check out some of the changes.

What’s the Difference?

Display campaigns haven’t been enhanced in quite the same way as search. It’s harder to converge devices around display, because of the differences in capabilities. Rich media and flash ads are pretty prevalent (and successful) on display, but will struggle to get any traction on mobile platforms.

The use cases are also different. When a person does a search, that search is the strongest signal of their intent. But when the user is simply browsing, their device might give us much more information in comparison.

So we aren’t being forced to combine the devices on display campaigns. For now. I think it’s safe betting this will happen once Google work out the technical implications around image ad formats.

What do we get Instead?

Fear not, display campaigns have been upgraded too. Some sexy new features are making their way into your accounts. It already worked like this:

  • Add any and all targeting methods desired to your ad group.
  • Choose how those targeting methods should interact. Each targeting method can be selected to show on all matches, or only those matches within the other targeting methods. For example, if you have keywords that will show your ads on any pages matching those keywords, you can also add placements. You then choose for the placement target whether the ad should show on everything on that placement, or only pages that also match your keywords. This gives you a lot of available control, and you can mix and match these targeting methods any way you choose.
  • Set an ad group default bid. This determines the typical bid used for the targets in that ad group.
  • Set custom bids. Each target can have its own bid, so that impressions matching that target can be more or less aggressive than the other targets.

But now…

…it’s better. When you upgrade a display campaign you get bid adjustments, just like the multipliers on search. Instead of adjusting per device you get to adjust per target.

At ad group (or campaign) level you can now specify the multiplier for a target. These multipliers will work together so that users who match multiple targets get even higher bids.

What do I do?

  • Write down every target you can think of that is relevant to you, for which the ads in your ad group are a good fit.
  • Add those targets into your ad group. Think about the whole spectrum: keywords, topics, placements, interests, remarketing.
  • Decide how those should interact (e.g., somebody on your keywords whose behaviour also matches a particular interest should have a bid multiplier of X% more than your default). If they are also on a target placement, X% + Y%.

It’s starting to look good. If each of your targets is one way of determining a person who is likely to convert, then a user who matches more of your targets is even more likely to convert, so now you can easily enter the auction with a higher bid appropriately. That will increase the chances of the person seeing your ads. Good, right?

The Downsides

A user matching multiple targets isn’t necessarily more likely to convert than a user who matches one, if that one target is well defined. It might imply more confidence that the user is better, but not that the user is themselves better.

If a person matches many targets your bid might reach unprofitable levels. This approach is also likely to encourage broader targeting at the basic level.

We might find advertisers willing to use low bids on broad targets, knowing that their high multipliers will appropriately target the high value users. This would have a lot of impact on the competitiveness of CPCs across the board. It may however prove to be a legitimate and successful strategy.

It’s not yet clear how these changes will affect your campaigns once you start using them, but I think this extra control is going to be almost uniformly positive.

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