Tips for Targeting Mobile Users with AdWords

Tips for Targeting Mobile Users with AdWords


You may recall that a few years ago, Google AdWords allowed advertisers to target mobile devices, desktop and sometimes tablet users in unique campaigns. Then, in early 2013, Google rolled out their “enhanced” campaigns, which eliminated device-specific campaigns.

With enhanced campaigns, Google bundled desktops, mobile, and tablets into a single group, and by doing so, removed the ability to exclusively target individuals searching on mobile devices. To say that this peeved a lot of paid marketing managers would be an understatement, especially since close to 50 percent of all searches are conducted on mobile devices.

The transition from targeted device advertising to “enhanced” campaigns has meant that, or order to effectively reach people across multiple device, advertisers have had to modify their tactics with their campaign structure and bidding strategy.

Here are a few of those tactics and approaches for how to focus your AdWords spending on mobile.


When you build an ad in AdWords’ interface, you can select a “Device Preference” check box to mark the ad as “mobile-preferred.” Selecting mobile-preferred ads make it possible to customize your messaging specifically to people on mobile devices. You can even use call-to-actions, such as “call now” in these mobile-specific ads since the searcher can click-to-call from a phone.


Call-only ads only appear on devices that can actually make phone calls. For example:


Instead of sending customers to your website landing page, they initiate a call to your business. When you enter your verification URL, which can be the landing page address for your business, that’s only for AdWords to verify your ad and phone number. If you want to create ads that allow both clicks to call and clicks to your website, use call extensions in AdWords.


Bid modifiers allow you to increase or decrease bids by a percentage for ads appearing on mobile devices. Doing this can help you focus a campaign’s spend on mobile placement. For example, you might set a low general bid and increase the mobile bid modifier to 300%, the maximum percentage allowed.

To set a bid modifier, go to the “Settings” tab in your desired campaign and select “Devices.” You’ll be able to see statistics broken down by device and the option to change the percentage for mobile.



To run ads on mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites, your image ad size should be 320 x 50. Image ads can show as banner ads or interstitials in mobile apps.

Interstitial image ads are full-screen ads that cover the interface of their host application and appear as someone transitions between screens or pages in an app. Interstitial ads tend to have higher clickthrough rates than banner ads, but may have a higher CPC. Interstitial image ad sizes for mobile phones: 300 x 250, 320 x 480, and 480 x 320.

Banner image ads are the most commonly used ad format for mobile. You can upload double-sized images (for example, a 640 x 100 image for a 320 x 50 ad slot) for high-resolution display devices and AdWords will auto-adjust the image based on the device’s pixel density. Sizes for mobile phones and tablets: 320 x 50, 468 x 60, 728 x 90, and 300 x 250.

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By default your ads will show both as banners and interstitials. If you want to only run interstitials, go to the “Display Network” tab in AdWords and click “+ Exclusion” under “Campaign exclusions.” Select “GMob mobile app non-interstitial” to exclude banner ads from your mobile app campaign.

Mobile Text Ads

Another option is to run plain text ads on display, which can be cheaper than banner images. Mobile text ads look like standard text ads that you’d see on a desktop computer. The main difference is that you can show fewer ads per page when someone’s searching on a mobile device. Keep in mind, text ads can appear differently on the Display Network.


Keep in mind that, for mobile text ads, AdWords may sometimes replace your second line of description text with the most relevant ad extensions that you’ve enabled (e.g. sitelink extensions, location extensions, or callout extensions). This helps Google provide the most relevant information possible to your potential customers and can increase your ads’ clickthrough rates.


If you don’t have a responsive design website, then make sure that you have a separate mobile website and that the individual product and service pages forward to their respective mobile counterparts.

Research shows that 57 percent of consumers will not recommend a brand with a bad mobile site and 40 percent will move on to a competitor after sub-par mobile experience. Maximize your mobile PPC ROI by delivering a user-friendly mobile experience.

AdWords also lets you use ValueTrack parameters in ad-destination URLs to:

  1. Direct users to a device-specific landing page at the keyword level.
  2. Enable measurement of the effectiveness of campaigns by device.

Rather than duplicate successful desktop-focused advertisements for your mobile-specific campaigns, it’s a best practice to create entirely new materials – ad copy, images and landing pages – for your mobile ads. Keep in mind that people behave differently on different devices. Test these different tactics to see which are most effective for you and your brand and adjust accordingly.

To learn more tips and tricks for how to target mobile users through AdWords, contact our Paid Marketing Team or request a free audit.