Google announced a new marketing tool called “Enhanced Campaigns” last week. It combines paid search ads on mobile devices and desktop computers. Ramifications of the change have not been evaluated fully to date. A number of commentators focused on the implications for “sophisticated marketers” immediately after the announcement. Few commentators seem concerned about the effect of this change on the marketing efforts of

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Romeo is stopped by a barricade, like many small businesses now facing higher tablet advertising costs from Google

small businesses. As the tool is rolled out this month, we will be in a better position to assess the impact on small business marketing.

Combining paid search ads for mobile and desktop devices is expected to accomplish two goals: (1) to simplify advertising by reducing the number of options advertisers must manage and (2) to increase profits for Google. Everyone understands the desire to increase profits. However, it is more difficult to understand why reducing the number of advertising options available to marketers is actually good for anyone other than Google.

More Devices, Fewer Options

We have all watched the proliferation of communication devices during the last few years. The war between Android and iphone/ipad is occurring in plain view. Each device category (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone) tends to be used differently by owners. Why, then, is reducing the number of advertising options beneficial to marketers? The answer is that it is more beneficial to Google.

Numerous studies of buyer behavior and device usage have repeatedly demonstrated that people use different devices in different ways and for different purposes. Customers have different expectations of how businesses will interact with them on each device. How does combining disparate devices and the buyer behaviors associated with those devices benefit businesses?

For “sophisticated marketers,” the change limits the targeting of specific ads to specific audiences. It removes a level of targeting specificity they value. The same is true for small businesses, as well. Sophisticated marketers want to evaluate the effectiveness of their advertising efforts for each of the smallest possible groups of prospects. Small businesses – often working with very limited budgets – also want to target their advertising to narrowly defined groups of prospects.

Barricading the Lower Cost-Per-Click Options

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Barricading the lower cost per click option

Just as the word is reaching small businesses that advertising to people using mobile devices is more cost-effective, Google announces a program that effectively puts a barricade around the lower-cost option. To increase their profits, Google decided to combine the lower cost-per-click tablet ads with higher cost-per-click desktop ads.

This is great for Google. But what is the benefit for advertisers? Small businesses, who thought they finally had an opportunity to advertise effectively and affordably, now find themselves shut out of the game, again.

Increasing the Cost to Reach Mobile Devices?

Logic would seem to indicate that if this change will increase profits for Google it will also increase costs for advertisers. Further, combining desktop, laptop, and tablet devices will incur higher design costs for businesses as they seek to ensure quality display on all devices.

MediaPost reported that according to their Q3 data “tablet users spent 30% more time on-site and had 20% higher Engagement Scores than PC users.” This is, indeed, “a significant difference in behavior.” [MediaPost Publications Marketing Daily, 2/7/2013, “What Google Enhanced Campaigns Changes Mean For Sophisticated Marketers,” by Roger Barnette.]

The Bottom Line for Small Business

Today, we do not know the bottom line for small businesses. We must all wait and watch. We should know how the “enhanced campaigns” tool from Google will affect advertising costs. Small business and Google’s enhanced campaigns might not play well together. Fortunately, there are other ways to reach out to the tablet market.

What do you think this means for Small Businesses?