More and more consumers are accessing the Internet on their mobile devices each day. There are over 5 billion mobile phones worldwide, and according to recent Neilsen research, over 50% of the mobile phones in the US will be smartphones (capable of internet browsing) before the end of 2011.

The majority of these mobile users are performing Google searches, providing a growing marketing opportunity for paid search advertisers.

In addition, rising smartphone use means consumers are expecting more from their mobile experience. Instead of looking up restaurants or hotels before heading out, more people are now searching for places and services with their phones on-the-go.

At a high-level, managing mobile paid search ads is very similar to managing desktop paid search campaigns. In fact, your Google campaigns may already be opted-in to mobile and you could already be advertising on mobile devices.

However, user patterns and intent are different enough on cell-phones that you should be managing mobile campaigns separately. With our experience with large scale advertisers, mobile campaigns typically have higher Click-through-rates (CTR) and lower Cost-per-Click (CPC) and CPA.

Here are some of the best practices that we have identified working with large scale advertisers:

Separate Mobile Campaigns

As I mentioned above, ads perform differently on mobile devices. In order to optimize for mobile-specific performance, you need to separate mobile campaigns from your traditional desktop paid search ads.

The easiest place to start is to duplicate your existing high-volume campaigns and target them to mobile devices (excluding mobile devices from the existing desktop campaign targeting). Separate, mobile-specific, campaigns will provide more granular control over bids, creative, and landing pages that should be optimized for mobile devices.

Optimize Mobile Landing Pages

With the majority of mobile browsing occurring on smart phones, the browsers mimic desktop browsing experience with two key differences:  everything is smaller and there is limited support for Adobe Flash.

With the proliferation of smartphones, it’s not necessarily as important to have a mobile specific (or WAP) website (see Mobile Mondays for more on that topic); however, you want to ensure that landing pages provide a positive user experience.

Evaluate what pages look like on standard phones (iPhone and Android) and fix pages that would show broken images or Flash files. Another common usability issue with mobile browsers is pages where the user is forced to scroll back and forth to read the content on a page.

Tailoring mobile landing pages, or if you have the resources, developing smartphone specific websites are proven to encourage the conversion process on mobile phones.

Position Is More Important

Google shows only 1-2 paid search ads on the top of mobile search results and a couple of ads at the bottom of the page. This means that mobile searches have limited inventory in comparison to the 10+ ads that are displayed on the top and side of desktop browsers.

Advertisers see huge drop-offs in click-through and conversion rates when their ads are shown in the lower positions. In order to get your ad to appear when a user searches, you need to place a bid that ensures it is in one of the top positions.

Because CPCs are often lower on mobile-specific ads, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should pay more, however, it is important to monitor position to ensure that ads are displaying in the limited spots available.

Tailor Mobile Ad Creative

The combination of limited real estate on mobile search results and different user intent, calls for mobile specific ad copy. We’ve seen more success with shorter, “to the point” messaging than with ads that use all of the available characters.

You also want to make your call-to-action as clear as possible so that consumers know they will be able to make a purchase, registration, etc. when they click on your ad.

Customizing creative to the browsing device, for example putting the words “iPhone” or “Android” in the creative text has also demonstrated better click-through rates— just be sure that you set the device-targeting parameters to match the messaging.

Google Mobile Offers & Location Extensions

Focus On Local Activities

With separate mobile paid search campaigns, you can now begin to focus on the mobile experience. Consider how consumer intent for mobile users might vary from your traditional desktop browser.

According to Google, “one in three mobile search queries are made by people who are looking for something in their local area.”

Are mobile searchers looking for your store locations or a phone number to call? If so, you can use location and click-to-call extensions to provide that information directly in the search results.

In addition to providing supplementary information, local offers or coupons placed directly within ads provide further encouragement for in-person conversions.

In this Adidas case study, Google showed that mobile ads with offers had higher click-through-rates than other mobile ads, and double the in-store coupon redemption rate.

Also, when focusing on local conversions, don’t forget about the landing pages. Placing location, contact information, and coupons clearly on mobile-specific landing pages will help consumers that click on your ads get to this information more quickly.

Closing Thoughts

While you may already be receiving traffic from mobile search, your program will benefit taking a proactive approach managing your mobile campaigns. Just as with any online campaign, it is important to continue monitoring performance and adjusting your keywords, creative and landing pages according to what works and what doesn’t.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Industrial Strength

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About The Author: is VP of Marketing for Marin Software, bringing a breadth of online marketing, web analytics and search experience to the company.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | LinkedIn



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