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Enhance Google AdWords for Mobile Advertising

Close your eyes and throw a (suction) dart in a random direction. Did you hit someone searching for a nearby pizza parlor on their mobile phone?

Web searching on mobile phones grew more than 400 percent in the past year, and more than 104 million people browse the mobile web in the United States alone. It’s estimated that revenue from mobile search ads will reach $3.1 billion by 2013, up from $160 million in 2008.

As mobile phones and other small mobile computers get faster and better, mobile search will become even more integrated into daily life. So it’s crucial to ensure your Google AdWords campaigns are optimized for mobile devices if you want your search advertising investments to deliver a great return.

We’ll show you how to set up your mobile ads, but first, let’s look at the advantages you’ll gain by creating them.

Mobile-Specific Campaign Advantages

Mobile searchers perform a higher proportion of local searches than people using desktops or laptops. Setting up your mobile AdWords campaign separately from the rest of your AdWords campaign helps you make your ads appropriate for mobile searchers, as well as for the phones and other devices they’re using.

  • Dedicated budget – Control how much of your advertising spend is allocated to mobile search
  • Designed for mobile user behavior – Cater to the shorter queries that mobile searchers use
  • Mobile-specific calls to action – Use “Click to Call” to give users the option to call you instantly
  • Bidding strategies – Because fewer ads are shown “above the fold” on mobile phones, more aggressive bidding may be necessary to claim one of the two top spots

Google AdWords Mobile Campaign Setup

By default, Google AdWords campaigns target all devices, from desktops and laptops to iPads to mobile phones. To select which mobile devices you want to target with specific ads, go to the Settings tab in your Google AdWords dashboard.


Next, look under “Networks and Devices”, and click “Edit” next to the “Devices” option. Expand “Advanced Device and Carrier Options” to see all of the targeting options that are available to you. The two main targeting options are Devices and Carriers. It is necessary to target specific devices only if your product is specific to just one model – for example, you have an iPhone app but no Android version. You don’t want to waste money advertising to Android phone owners if you have nothing to sell them.


Notice the “Your ads won’t show on desktop and laptop computers” alert above. Don’t get scared! Ideally, you will have a similar yet separate campaign that is targeting only desktop and laptop users. This allows you to target the same keywords, but use strategies specific to mobile and laptops/desktops separately.

You Need a Mobile-Friendly Website

Getting the user to click on your mobile ad is only half the battle. Post-click optimization is just as important. Ensuring that your website easy to view on a mobile phone or device, and that your conversion funnel works on these, will help you to maximize your conversion rate.

It’s no use optimizing an AdWords campaign with mobile-specific messaging and settings if the landing page and user experience will cause people to bounce off your site without even considering a purchase. A clean, simple, and user-friendly navigation, and desired information just a few clicks away, will help to fulfill mobile searchers’ needs.

Is the iPad a Mobile Device?

The Apple iPad is a device that bridges the gap between a desktop or laptop and a smartphone. So how should you set up your advertising campaign to reach iPad users?

As seen above, the iPad is included Google’s “mobile devices” category. However, when a searcher performs a query, the results page will look just as it does on a desktop or laptop. Search ad space isn’t as scarce on an iPad as it is on a mobile phone. So optimize the landing page as you would for regular search ads – but with one important exception. Don’t use Flash technology on a landing page that you are driving iPad users to. The iPad isn’t Flash-compatible, so the person using an iPad will see a big black hole where the Flash content should be.

QR Codes

QR Codes (short for Quick Response) are two-dimensional barcodes that are used to integrate your offline and online strategies. These codes can be scanned by people who have a QR Reader on a mobile phone. The QR code then directs them to a web page or other online experience.


Some examples of potential uses include:

  • Movie ad in print. Scanning a magazine ad for a movie could take you directly to a trailer for the movie on your mobile phone.
  • Restaurant reviews. Have good reviews on Yelp? Print up a big QR code and place it in your window to drive a potential customer to these reviews, and let happy customers inform them that you have the best steak in town.
  • Installation videos. How cool would it be for IKEA to move from their current wordless “assembly instructions” to a QR code that takes the user to a DIY installation video? Very cool. Do it yourself, and maybe IKEA will take notice and copy you.

These are just a few applications for QR codes, but there are many more already, and more on the way. The sky is the limit.

How To Use Mobile Advertising

Not every business should use mobile targeting the same way. Businesses selling to other businesses will use mobile advertising differently from businesses selling to consumers. Different industries can – and should – use mobile advertising in ways appropriate for them. Here are examples of mobile targeting tactics to get your wheels turning:

  • Local and service-based businesses – Search Ads with click-to-call extensions
  • E-commerce – A combination of search ads and banner ads to drive brand awareness
  • App downloads – Search and display ads that can be clicked to download the app immediately

Click-to-Call Extension Example

The potential audience for your business on mobile phones is most likely already very large, and it will continue to grow. By optimizing your search advertising for this large number of people, you can capture new customers and leads while they’re on the go – and ready to buy.

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