Beginners Guide To Creating Mobile AdWords Campaigns

The number of people who access the web from a mobile device is on the rise. However, those accessing the web from a mobile device with a full browser (such as an iPhone or Blackberry Storm) and those on a mobile browser (such as Blackberry Curve) see different sets of information, and, more importantly to marketers — see different advertisements on a Google search result.

Showcasing ads to mobile audiences is excellent for companies who are searched for while a user is out in the community without a computer, such as:

  • Department stores (show driving directions)
  • Towing companies
  • Locksmiths

Or to reach users who are looking for mobile software:

  • Mobile applications (such as iPhone apps)
  • Ringtones

There are other company types that will find mobile advertising useful. As most users on a phone are not going to visit many pages on your website, think about what a user would want to accomplish while on a small device and direct your traffic to such a page.

After we discuss the options for reaching an audience, we will showcase an easy way to test mobile campaigns if your website is not mobile compatible.

AdWords has ways of reaching audiences regardless of their phone type. However, there are different techniques for putting your ads in front of a consumer based upon their mobile browser type.

Reaching users with full Internet browsers

To reach a user with a full Internet browser, the steps are quite simple. In the settings tab for your campaign, you have options to display your ad based upon the user accessing the Internet via:

  • Desktop or laptop computer
  • iPhones or other devices with full Internet browsers


(Click image to view full size at Flickr)

You can choose one or both options.

If you choose to display your ads to users with a full Internet browser, check to see how your ad renders in that browser. Some full mobile browsers do not render flash or java correctly. If your images, flash files, or script files are large, it might take quite some time for your website to render on this device.

If you use Google Analytics, you can segment your current audience metrics for those users coming from an iPhone.


While this will not show you everyone coming to your site from a full HTML browser, it can give you directional information about how iPhone users are interacting with your website. Examine your bounce rate. If the keywords are relevant to your website, and your bounce rate is high, it may be an indication of a slow loading site on a browser.

Reaching users with mobile browsers

To reach users that are not using iPhones, or other full HTML browsers, there is a different technique. Google has another ad type called ‘mobile ads’. Navigate to the ad tab within your ad group and click ‘New Ad’, followed by ‘Mobile Ad’.


Mobile ads are much smaller than text ads. They contain only two lines of eighteen characters. As the display screen on phones is smaller than a typical browser, so are the text ads.

The real decision about this ad types comes from deciding what options to give the user. You can give the user three options upon seeing your ad:

  • Click the ad to visit your website
  • Click the phone number to initiate a phone call
  • Give the user both of the above options

You must have a mobile compatible site to send users to your website. If you do not have a mobile compliant site, your only option is to use the click-to-call feature of the ad.

In addition, you can choose which network you wish to display your ads on. For instance, if you have created a app that only works on T-Mobile phones, you would only want to display your ad to T-Mobile users. For most advertisers, feel free to show your ad to all carriers.


Mobile ads are only shown if the user meets your other campaign’s restrictions, such as geography or time of day. Therefore, you can create click to call ads for a locksmith that are only shown in the city that you service.

Creating mobile pages

Google use to offer mobile landing pages that you could create within your AdWords account. Those were retired a few months ago due to low usage, and they will not be missed as there were not formatting options.

If you want to test mobile advertising, but do not want to pay for the development for a full mobile site until you are certain you wish to utilize mobile advertising, there is a very easy way to create a test site using WordPress. WordPress is an easy-to-install blogging platform. However, you do not have to use it as a blog. You can install the CMS and create a couple landing pages to test out for your mobile ads instead of starting a full blog. In addition, WordPress supports many plug-ins. One of these plug-ins makes WordPress mobile compatible. Therefore all you need to do to test out mobile advertising is:

  • Install WordPress
  • Install the mobile compatible plug-in
  • Write a few pages for mobile users
  • Send traffic to those pages via AdWords

Here is a full instruction guide to creating WordPress mobile pages.

Previewing mobile search results & websites

Google has a mobile preview tool that will let you view mobile results from within your desktop browser. Navigate to the and conduct a search. You see results in several countries, and even by carrier in the US.


You can also do a search at Google mobile to see the organic results, but Google mobile rarely shows ads even for results that should display ads when you are on a desktop.

Google also has a mobile proxy tool that will adopt any page to be viewed on a mobile device. It is useful if you are on a phone and the page uses scripts that your device cannot render, which is its primary purpose. However, it can also be used to get an idea of what your site might look like on some mobile devices.

That tool can become tedious to use over time. An easier way to see what your site will look like in a mobile browser is to use the FireFox plug-in wmlbrowser that will simulate WAP browsing from your desktop.

Conversion tracking

The AdWords conversion tracking script supports both mobile and desktop browser usage. You may have different conversions based upon a user coming from a mobile device compared to a desktop device. Therefore, set your goals appropriately.

It can also be useful to have completely separate mobile versus desktop campaigns. As you might send traffic to different pages on your site for the same keywords based upon their device, or have different conversion options, use the AdWords editor to quickly duplicate your campaigns and then set one for desktops and one for mobile devices.


Mobile usage is climbing, although it has definitely not hit its peak. There will still be many growing pains for mobile advertising and mobile usage. In addition, the volume of clicks for most businesses is still low from mobile devices. However, conversion rates for phone calls and driving directions are often higher than desktop browsing for many industries. If you are locked out of your car, you do not comparison shop locksmiths. Most users find one locksmith and then place a phone call.

Testing mobile advertising is not a difficult proposition. It will take you only a few minutes to create mobile ads or change your campaign settings. If you are technically minded, it will take only an hour to install a new WordPress site and write the content for your new mobile landing pages.

As with most new advertising techniques, the hard part is choosing to try out the new medium and setting aside the time to actually accomplish the changes. Take an hour one day and test out mobile. The results might surprise you. Even if it doesn’t work well due to the low volume of clicks, leaving the campaign running will let you see the stats for when mobile adoption is starting to hit your industry so you can be in front of the curve in mobile adoption.

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

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | How To: PPC | Paid Search Column


About The Author: is the Founder of Certified Knowledge, a company dedicated to PPC education & training; fficial Google AdWords Seminar Leader, and author of Advanced Google AdWords.

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  • nickstamoulis

    Hi Brad – Thanks for this very helpful lesson for creating mobile adwords campaigns. I have tested these type of campaigns in the past and I have seen great results for our BtoC clients. I look forward to the day when a BtoB audience uses mobile devices as much as consumers to search…


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