Early days of mobile advertising
Before smart phones hit the market, mobile advertisers were confined to the small screens of traditional mobile units. Web access on those phones was painful and expensive”web pages” on those phones often consisted of nothing more than several hyperlinks. Needless to say, the technology never really took off. The iPhone changed all of that in late 2007, by offering a full touch screen HTML browser. Suddenly web-on-mobile devices started to make more sense for both phone users and advertisers.
AdWords and mobile
Soon after the iPhone launch, Google introduced a new feature in the AdWords “Settings” tab. This feature enabled online advertisers to syndicate AdWords ads to mobile phones. With the flip of a switch, online ads could be displayed on browser-based handsets around the world.
Sounds great, right? In theory yes, allowing online advertisers to syndicate pre-existing ads to users on a new type of device with little-to-no work sounds great. Except that these ads were originally designed for users accessing the web from a relatively fixed location on a screen ranging in size from 10 to 20+ inches.
Why does this matter? Users accessing the Internet via PC (laptop or desktop) are in a totally different mindset from their mobile counterparts. Generally, PC users will spend large chunks of time in a fixed location and may spend hours searching and researching.
The PC experience is much more tolerable, searching from the comforts of your home or office is much more enjoyable than trying to navigate a 2-4 inch touch screen while walking down a busy street or riding on a bus.
Additionally, PC users have more time on their hands—when you are on the go you probably have a task to accomplish and you are usually in transit. Mobile users “snack” on the internet in small browsing sessions, and generally access the web when they need a quick answer.
Now you can start to imagine why ads that you have strategically set up with PC users in mind may not be as effective in AdWords’ mobile version.
AdWords mobile optimization techniques
1. Turn off your mobile ad syndication if you haven’t done so already. You will turn it back on when you are ready.
2. Make a copy of your AdWords campaign and append the word “mobile” or another designation to differentiate the new mobile campaign from the standard campaign.
3. Adjust your bids to a lower value. At this point, few advertisers have enough data to clearly suggest how effective mobile ads are versus their traditional AdWords counterparts. Additionally, few advertisers are opted in to the AdWords mobile option. Why risk a higher CPC if you don’t have to?
4. Review your ads. You want to ensure that your ads are clear and to the point. Remember, most mobile users are accessing the web on 2-4 inch screens. The goals of these ads should be relatively similar to those of your traditional AdWords ads. However, there may also be additional opportunities for geo-modification due to enhanced targeting capabilities of mobile devices. Also, be sure to take advantage of Google’s new in-ad phone feature. This will allow users to call your business directly from the SERPs for the price of a standard click.
5. Review your landing pages and optimize them to be more mobile friendly:
- Remove non-essential images; these take up space.
- Be sure to include your phone number. Many smart phones have a tap-to-call technology built in that will allow your visitors to call your company directly with a simple touch of the screen.
- Use contrasting colors and simple fonts. A clean design is even more important on mobile devices.
- Organize your content in short lists, and bold important terms if possible.
6. Review your current keywords. Certain keywords may work better than others in the mobile space and testing will reveal their value.
7. Revisit your goals and manage your expectations. Mobile advertising is a great way to stay connected to your audience when they are away from their PC. Reduced expectations for your mobile campaigns should be set as users will be less likely to make a purchase on a mobile device. Lower CPCs should help offset the difference in conversions.
Calls to Action to consider monitoring:
- Direct calls to your business
- Clickthroughs to specific links
- Sharing features (email a friend, tweeting, SMS sharing)
8. Test and monitor your campaigns on an ongoing basis, just as you would with any AdWords campaign. As more consumers switch to smart phones and our lives become increasingly mobile, expect online advertising to follow suit.
With more people using advanced devices and with advancements in mobile technology, opportunities to market to mobile users will increase as well. I’m not suggesting that mobile advertising will become a staple in every advertiser’s marketing mix in 2010, but if you don’t test the new advertising opportunities your business might be missing out. Before launching your first AdWords mobile campaign adhere to the best practices listed above to minimize your risks and increase your ability to control your campaigns.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.