Those using automated bid strategies should expect an increase in campaign spend and bids
We've spoken time and time again about how the shift to mobile is impacting ecommerce purchase behavior. Google has been banging the 'Mobile First' drum for some time now, but we still see the vast majority of conversions taking place on desktop despite the fact mobile now makes up a majority of ecommerce traffic.
What is happening is that consumers are browsing on mobile devices, making crucial decisions about their purchase, and then switching to desktop to convert. This makes perfect sense. Mobile browsing is great for getting ideas, but when you find something you want, you need something with a proper keyboard to input fiddly payment details rather than attempting to do it on a small screen.
Now that discovering and researching products on mobile and converting on desktop has become an extremely common purchase journey, cross-device journey tracking has become essential to accurately tracking mobile ROI.
AdWords has allowed users to include cross-device conversions in their conversion column for some time now, but you had to go into your settings to set this up. Including cross-device conversions has the advantage of having your automated bid strategy optimise for these conversions.
So what's changed?
Google announced back in 2016 that cross-device conversions would eventually be counted as conversions by default, which would affect how people's automated bid strategies perform. Now that announcement is being put into practice, and Google will be making all AdWords accounts count cross-device conversions as conversions from March 14th 2017. This could be of benefit for those using automated bid strategies that had not changed their settings up account for cross-device targeting.
It may well be a great move for the marketers investing in Adwords - As we know people research on mobile and convert on desktop this change will mean that the Adwords campaigns start to receive the credit they deserve. While it may increase the CPC, companies will be able to attribute the revenue to campaigns that try couldn't before and be able to justify further investment.
After this change comes into effect it will be worth trialing archived campaigns that didn't report the required ROI before but this may have been misreported when the customer switched to desktop to complete the sale, and be worth a second try.
The most important factor here is that a marketing team can measure the success of marketing activities more accurately which can only be a good thing. The downside is that in the short term you may see a reduction in sales attributed to your other channels particularly SEO and direct as these get reassigned to PPC.
However, it doesn't take a particularly cynical mind to realize that this change will likely mean an increase in bids and campaign spends for most users switching to counting cross-device conversions. This will mean more revenue for Google, and takes away choice from users, who now can no longer opt to only count conversions that happen on the same device on which the device is clicked. That said, it's likely to help PPC managers negotiating with the higher-ups for budget, and better attribution may help you win budget which will ultimately help your company sell more - good news for Google and good news for you.