Mobile Advertising: Why Just Showing Up on Mobile Isn’t Enough

Mobile Advertising: Why Just Showing Up on Mobile Isn’t Enough

September 4, 2013
Adam Shain

So you’re advertising on mobile devices. What now?

As most advertisers know by now, one of the biggest changes in Google’s new Enhanced Campaigns is that they target all devices. After the upgrade, this means that at least a portion of your impressions are coming from users on mobile devices – even if your market is primarily desktop based. Sure, you can set your mobile bid adjustment to -100% to effectively turn off mobile (although Google has noted that even this won’t guarantee that your ads will never be displayed on mobile devices) but if you’re like most WordStream users, then you are either willing to experiment with mobile or you simply haven’t gotten around to changing the bids.

And this isn’t a bad thing. More and more search usage is shifting to mobile devices, and smartphone penetration continues to grow. Google itself estimates that in some cases over 50% of all search queries are coming from mobile devices. Put simply, if you aren’t doing mobile marketing you’re missing out on a huge number of potential customers (and you are giving a huge head start to any competitors who are on mobile).

But just because your ads appear on mobile phones doesn’t mean that you’re making the most of your newfound exposure.

Grade Mobile PPC

Context Clues: The Importance of Mobile-Preferred Ads

In our work with WordStream customers, it’s surprising how few have taken the time to create mobile-preferred text ads for their ad groups. The experience on a smartphone is fundamentally different from a desktop because people use them for different things. Just think about the past couple of times that you’ve done a search on your phone:

  • Were you at home or out and about?
  • If you were home, were you using your phone and desktop at the same time?
  • Were you in deep research mode (“What different styles of couches would go well in my apartment?”) or looking to solve an immediate problem (“Need pizza now!”)?
  • Did you type a detailed search query or did you keep things short or use voice recognition to ask a question?
  • Did the end of your search result in a phone call?

mobile phone advertising


mobile phone ads

Mobile-preferred text ads allow you to tailor the user experience for mobile users. You can include mobile-specific calls-to-action and direct users to mobile-optimized landing pages. Almost as important for marketers who are constantly seeking to improve their metrics, you can A/B test mobile text ads against each other in an apples-to-apples comparison to improve your overall account performance.

New Alert: Mobile Text Ad Opportunity

For all of these reasons, today WordStream has introduced a new alert into the 20-Minute Work Week to help our users identify ad groups that are getting mobile impressions but don’t yet have mobile-preferred text ads set up. Because our users are generally strapped for time, each week the alert will identify an ad group that needs some mobile TLC and show a break-down of where the impressions in the ad group are coming from. Users can then quickly create a mobile preferred text ad for Google mobile advertising to start optimizing their account for mobile searchers.

Mobile Ad Alert

The migration of search to mobile devices presents a huge opportunity for most advertisers. It represents a new way of engaging with potential customers and the ongoing evolution of the market means that opportunities exist for smaller advertisers to compete with the larger players. Woody Allen famously said that “80% of success is just showing up,” and while that might be true, I think the bigger question for mobile advertising is, “Now that you are showing up, what are you doing with the opportunity?”


Randall Magwood
Sep 06, 2013

Do you think that getting found via mobile marketing is easier than getting found from traditional SEO marketing strategies?

Saqib Sherazi
Sep 07, 2013

Great Article. For me personally, when watching TV I tend to carry my mobile phone with me. When i see an interesting ad on tv, i tend to browse something about that company. For example, I recently saw a great commercial about a Kia Cadenza car. Not knowing that much about that car, I decided to go to Kia and see its pricing while also at the same time reading reviews about that car.I think mobile has given the consumer the opportunity to research about a particular brand and company right away from the comfort of their couch or any other location. for example, if i see an intiguing ad in the subway, i can search more info about that company and also see if there any deals associated with that company that I can take advantage of. Some companies these days are also using QR codes on their physical ads which the consume can scan to land them to a mobile friendly website or even receive other related information.  

Sep 10, 2013

QR codes, I beleive is a smart business strategy. You are creating an opportunity for prospective clients to browse through your offers and website using QR codes. As @saqib mentioned, that he browse through the offers while checking company information on the sites, is a good strategy that companies can leverge if they spread the news of custoized offers for mobile users. In my opinion, though we have gone far with this mobile marketing, there are many users who are still oblivious to using mobile for specia deals which companies are offering them. To increase the database of customers, we need to first increase the potential of reach of these offers.  

Sep 10, 2013

Is the conversion on mobiles approx 50% more than a pc user?

Dan Wheeler
Sep 16, 2013

Catering to mobile devices is one of the most crucial aspects of having a successful website online.   These days more and more people are using mobile devices to access websites and by designing your website to be mobile responsive, you improve the overall user experience of your website.  This especially includes those contact forms that are tedious to fill out by pinching and zooming on your phone.  Another point that is crucial is to never hide your ads (particularly Google Adsense ads) when viewed on mobile device.  Even though the ads are not being shown, the JavaScript still runs.  This could potentially get your banned from Google Adsense.   Using mobile-preferred text ads appear to be the most efficient way to display ads without interfering with the user's experience.  Knowing how to cater your ads to specific elements of what the user might research on their smartphone is also an important factor to keep in mind.  It is these context clues that allow for an excellent user experience while increasing your conversion rate on mobile devices.  Thanks for sharing such an insightful article Adam!

Sep 20, 2013

Fantastic article, it shows your visualization to forecast the things which will have growth in long term.  Google is taking advantage of technology change and getting opportunities. 

Carpet Cleaning Man
Sep 26, 2013

I have been noticing how mobile brings in the customers for us.  We used to spend crazy amounts of money on PPC but scaled back when we learned about SEO.  Now, googleseems to want more peices of the pie, so to speak.  Mobile advertising is a way for us to catch those customers and we have even started at looking at creating apps of our own for our carpet cleaning clients in Jacksonville, FL.

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