As Google rolls out “enhanced” campaign setup options and parameters, various accounts of the changes are referring to some backlash from concerned advertisers. We’ve even been notified of another Change.org protest of the (yet-to-be-experienced) new features.
It’s to be expected, given how competitive the environment is and how hard many of us work to turn a profit for our clients’ campaigns, that suspicion abounds that this is just all about Google making more money from mobile.
But if you listen to Nick Fox’s account of it, it syncs up with the idea that the current approach is simply too cumbersome. Big accounts are indeed “pivoting around” way too many dimensions. In another year’s time, many of these accounts would go from having “way, way too many campaigns” to “way, way, way too many campaigns.”
Certainly, there is an economic question in this. But rather than it being about “Google making more money from mobile,” Google is looking longer term and simply trying to stem a potential loss of growth in revenue overall. Indeed, excluding emerging international markets, if the shift to mobile usage patterns accelerates, and the number of clicks on desktop computers declines sharply, Google could make less money year over year. Can you imagine that? One day — despite whatever it might do to help advertisers better control mobile ads — that could in fact happen. As newspapers and network TV are finding, advertising isn’t forever.
Google is actually making a lot of money now from inefficient mobile deployment. Contrary reports, you don’t need to set up separate campaigns to bid separately on mobile ads, or to activate ads in that channel. They’re on by default. So this change is likely to be revenue-neutral, or even revenue-unpredictable. By reducing advertiser frustration with the channel (and unfortunately, “sexing up” the change with the usual examples of extreme bidding precision based on proximity, time of day, and whether the prospect has showered that day), Google seems to be looking long term.
As for the collapse of desktops and tablets into a single channel, we largely collapsed these back together this year after experimenting with splitting them out. We feel that they perform similarly enough as to not warrant additional “pivoting” around yet another dimension. My hunch is that this shift — essentially, to call tablets desktops — is something Google hopes will slide by analysts in the maelstrom of data and forecasts. By defining tablets as “computers,” they’ll show a less horrific decline in clicks from “computers” from quarter to quarter, in their financial reporting. That will spook Wall Street less. And for some reason, Google has reached a stage in its history where it seems to be very concerned about any optics that might cause a downward shock to its stock price. A far cry from the company’s insouciant attitude of days gone by.