Capitalizing on Mobile User Habits With Device-Specific PPC Campaigns

By Tony Park | Jan 19, 2017
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People use devices for different purposes. While some uses make perfect sense, others are less likely to happen.

For instance, would you shop for a fitness tracking app on your PC?
Most likely not.

Would you demo a complex software on your tablet?
Once again, most likely not.

So why would you ever advertise this way? Search and shopping behaviors differ by device, especially smartphone vs. PC. When you are able to identify your target audience’s device trends, a whole new realm of targeting will open up to you.

How Can You Use Device-Specific PPC Campaigns?

Creating pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns based on user habits can be an incredibly effective strategy to increase click-through rates and conversion rates for a given product. These types of campaigns use unique strategy, targeting and copy and other ad elements that best fit a particular device.

In July 2016, AdWords provided more control over budgets and bid adjustments in PPC campaigns. Default bids can now be set for one type of device, while bid adjustments can be set for the other two device types. This allows us to create campaigns with mobile as the focus and bid down for tablet and desktop. For example, increasing bids for mobile during hours when mobile traffic is peaking can be a central strategy for your campaign.

One of the greatest benefits of this change is the ability to review mobile and tablet actual cost per click (CPC) (instead of having to calculate device CPC from base CPC and bid modifiers). This helps search engine marketers uncover the differences of CPC by device type and adjust strategy accordingly.

Mobile and tablet bid adjustments are no longer lumped together. It goes without saying that this gives advertisers more control with overall device strategy. If you’ve geared your campaign toward tablet users exclusively, you no longer have to waste money on smartphone clicks.

Should you use a device-specific PPC campaign?

It really depends on your product and ad messaging. For example, a campaign that is pushing a new software can be entirely different depending on device. On desktops, the copy may include more details and the ads can include extensions that direct to demo or testimonial pages. For mobile devices, the copy may be more direct and include call or app extensions. Creating device-specific campaigns as opposed to directing the same campaigns to all devices allows advertisers more flexibility and opportunity for optimization.

When should you not segment by device?

  1. When your account is already too big and confusing.
    • If adding an extra layer of complexity to your account sounds like the last thing on earth you want to do, then staying away from device specific-campaigns may be a good idea. You will essentially have three times as many variables to monitor. Keep that in mind.
  2. When data is already hard to come by.
    • If you are already working with a small dataset, then I would advise you to hold off on device segmented campaigns. If your campaign only gets a handful of clicks a day, then how can you expect to accumulate enough data to perform granular changes like keyword bids?

Device User Trends

Consider device user habits before creating your PPC campaigns. How do these trends relate to your target audience?

  • Purchases with higher average order values are typically from desktops.
  • Desktop engagement typically lasts 3x longer than mobile engagement.
  • Mobile purchases tend to increase on the weekends.
  • Mobile users typically use browsers to find specific, clear-cut information.
  • Tablet users are more likely to be older females.
  • Device use is varied during different time of the day.


Device usage by time of day (

Every year we see the reports that highlight how mobile use is growing in the context of online purchases. It’s a trend that doesn’t surprise anyone, yet it’s a trend not everyone is presently taking advantage of. Creating mobile-focused PPC campaigns may save you from missing out on the fruits of increased mobile use.

Take a look at 2017’s projected mobile purchasing trends:

device specific ppc campaigns


Pointers for Mobile and Tablet Campaigns

  1. Use call extensions and message extensions for mobile campaigns.
    • This is a perfect extension that you should not waste your time including on your desktop campaigns, but can be a great way to connect with your customers via mobile PPC advertising.
  2. Use AdWords app extension. 
    • If you’re a company that has an app, AdWords latest extension is amazing. The app extension allows searchers to directly download your app at the cost of your typical click.
  3. Consider cost per click when setting bid adjustments per device.
    • For the most part, tablet and mobile cost-per-click tends to be lower than desktop. Keep this in mind when setting your “base” bid adjustments for each device.
  4. Bid on short keywords.
    • Keywords for mobile devices tend to be shorter. You may find that you want to increase bids for keywords that are direct and shorter in character length.
  5. Create a landing page strategy.
  6. Treat tablets like the “Home” device.
    • We see traffic from tablets spike during the hours that people are sitting on the couch and using them as a second screen – may be a good time to adjust bids accordingly…
  7. Choose voice-search-friendly keywords.
    • Voice search may become a pretty big deal in the near future. Taking a look at “voice search friendly” keywords and adjusting their mobile bids could be a great habit to develop.
  8. Try creating mobile, geographic-specific PPC campaigns.
    • It could benefit many advertisers to create mobile only campaigns that target a specific radius and up the bids during important hours.
  9. Use demographic bid modifiers.
    • It’s not much of a surprise that millennials are using smartphones more that Gen Y’s. Use this to your advantage for mobile specific campaigns.
  10. Segment your brand campaigns
    • One of the first device specific PPC campaigns you create should be brand campaigns. You never know how you can tweak this vital campaign to best suit a particular device and hopefully up your brand awareness.

Be Ahead of the Curve

As I said before, now is the time to anticipate the domination of mobile for PPC. Make hay while the sun is shining. Differentiate your campaigns by device if you think your business can grow from it. If not, at least segment campaigns and be cognizant of the differences in bid adjustments. The benefits of device specific PPC campaigns will only grow from here on out.


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