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How to increase mobile paid search campaign performance

By creating mobile-only search campaigns, advertisers benefit in several areas such as control, messaging, targeting and reporting.

Advertisers have more control over their mobile budgets and CPCs by splitting their campaigns. They can adjust bids independently from desktop and better target their creative messaging by including a mobile specific call to action such as ?call now? in their ad text. 

?The same best practices that have been applied to desktop campaigns are also relevant for mobile: separate your campaigns to better manage mobile, theme your ad groups tightly, make creatives and keywords relevant to the landing page, emphasize broad and brand keywords because they will generate more volume and mirror (or in some cases expand) keyword lists,? said Bon Mercado mobile ads product specialist at Google, Mountain View, CA.

?Furthermore, having a strong mobile call to action will often increase performance,? he said. ?Certain products fit advertisers' particular needs as well.

?For example, if your business takes inbound calls, click to call ads are a great option. Google Analytics and conversion tracking can help further optimize your campaigns.?

Advertisers are able to view more granular reporting, when their campaigns include mobile-only performance data. This also allows for better campaign optimization.

Per Mr. Mercado, before advertisers create mobile-only campaigns, they need to ask themselves a few questions:

? Am I looking to increase my mobile traffic volume?

? Do I have a mobile product, optimized site or feature that I would like to promote separate from desktop?

? Do I want to manage my mobile bids separately from my desktop bids?

? Do I want to control my mobile messaging separately from my desktop messaging?

? Do I want to run clear reports on my mobile campaigns?

? Do I want to optimize mobile conversions?

If the answer to any of the above questions is ?yes,? breaking out campaigns is advisable.

?I recommend my clients not become too concerned with overcomplicating matters so much that it delays their timing to get into the mobile search market,? said Doug McMillen, New York-based national mobile advertising sales specialist at Microsoft. ?Opportunity is very high right now as bid density and category competition is typically low.  

?Given this, I recommend advertisings start with a simple three-pronged campaign approach to mobile search,? he said.

The first campaign in Mr. McMillen?s three-pronged approach consists of the advertisers brand terms.

The second campaign is the advertiser?s highest converting terms that have developed from PC campaigns.

Lastly, the third campaign should be a ?volume? campaign based on some high traffic words from the mobile space.

Why the needs for three different keyword campaigns?

?The most sophisticated search marketers always work to isolate each particular variable of their campaigns so they may test and optimize for their learning,? Mr. McMillen said. ?Mobile search is no different.  

?Separating your mobile campaigns from your PC campaigns allows you to break out keyword performance, reporting, tracking and optimization so that it?s unique for the mobile space,? he said. ?Most engines will also assign a historical weight to your campaigns based on performance, so separating your mobile campaigns will ensure they don?t affect the relevancy of their PC counterparts.?

Targeted mobile search
Geotargeting has become an important part of the mobile search experience. It is a great added value for consumers and a big opportunity for advertisers.

Mobile advertisers can geotarget in the same way they target their desktop campaigns: by country, state, metro, city or custom ranges.

When setting up geotargeted campaigns for mobile, Google?s Mr. Mercado recommends that advertisers not target too tightly because this could limit search traffic.

Instead, it is better to test different targeting options and see which ones drive the highest quality results, Mr. Mercado said.  

If advertisers are targeting multiple countries, they should target only one country per campaign. The reason for that is CPCs can vary among different countries, and separate campaigns allow marketers to tune their bids to each market.

Mobile advertisers also have several device and carrier targeting options, per Mr. Mercado.  They can target by device, such as high-end smartphones including Android-powered devices, iPhone, iPad or Palm phones, and/or all other mobile devices including WAP phones. 

Advertisers also have the option to target by carrier. In the United States this includes AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Nextel, T-Mobile, and Metro PCS.

?These targeting options make it easier for advertisers to reach the right users when they have a carrier- or device-specific message,? Mr. Mercado said. ?This includes landing pages that have been optimized for a specific device, billing relationships with certain carriers, or mobile apps developed for a specific platform.

?For example, if an advertiser sells iPhone cases, you can use device targeting to ensure that only iPhone users will see your ads,? he said.

Mobile and local often go hand in hand, so optimized local campaigns are crucial, per Microsoft?s Mr. McMillen.

When consumers are looking for you, it is important they get the most relevant experience, and local landing pages and localized ad copy will help to accomplish this. 

The same holds true for device targeting.

?Ideally you are providing the consumer with ad copy and landing pages that are most relevant and render properly for their particular device,? Mr. McMillen said.

?I always begin my conversations with clients making sure they are thinking about breaking out their marketing efforts in two core segments: feature phones and smartphones ? as they are two very unique experiences that require different marketing strategies,? he said.

Mobile search is crucial
As the mobile Web grows and smartphones continue to proliferate, users are increasingly searching from their mobile devices.

Over the past 2 years, Google's mobile search volumes have grown more than fivefold, at an accelerated pace. 

In the first three months of 2010, users of smartphones with ?full? WebKit browsers (such as the iPhones, Android devices and Palm Pre) searched 62 percent more than they did in the previous three months. 

Additionally, Google finds that iPhone users perform as many as fifty-times more Web searches than users of standard mobile feature phones.

?When mobile search grows, the opportunity for advertisers to reach audiences on mobile platforms with a relevant message grows with it,? Mr. Mercado said.

Paid search management
Campaign organization is one of the most overlooked pieces of paid search management.

Mr. McMillen gave some best practices.

?Imagine your account to be like a menu,? Mr. McMillen said. ?You want to bundle your keywords based on product categories, as well as your marketing intent. 

?Breaking out brand terms and highest performing terms is essential so that poorer performing words don?t drag down their overall historical score,? he said. ?Breaking out separate categories of keywords also allows you to develop unique ad copy for each category.?

?How would you describe each group of words if they were on a menu? Don?t forget to keep the naming convention in plain simple English so when you?re analyzing your data from a high level, its obvious what your original intention was for each campaign or ad group.?  

Mr. McMillen said he has seen so many advertisers who have super-encrypted campaign names and it makes it impossible to think rationally about what was originally trying to be accomplished.

Some of Microsoft?s most recent research has shown that the amount of time it takes a typical mobile search user to complete the task they were trying to accomplish is significantly shorter than on PC. 

Seventy percent of mobile search users complete their task after one hour verses only 30 percent on the PC.  This means that consumers are using mobile search today to satisfy immediate needs.

?Maybe they are hungry, or they?re lost and they want something now,? Mr. McMillen said. ?As a marketer you need to be there when a user needs you most. 

?There?s a huge payoff in terms of emotional connection with a brand if you?re right there at the top of the listings and help the user accomplish their task easily when they?re highly motivated to connect with you,? he said.