How To Leverage Mobile Device Targeting With Adwords’ Hyper-local Campaigns

It feels like an eternity ago that Google introduced enhanced campaigns, yet advertisers still face the challenge of exclusively targeting mobile devices using AdWords.

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. Kind of strange considering close to 50% of all searches are conducted on mobile devices... right?

Mobile devices are an essential part of most individual's day-to-day lives, making it important to consider the following statistics when formulating your mobile, and overall marketing strategy:

  • Mobile devices account for 37% of all web searches; by 2017, mobile devices will drive roughly 50% of all searches.
  • On average, individuals reported spending 3.3 hours per day on their mobile devices, they also reported checking their phones approximately 150 times per day.
  • Local searches and mobile devices are closely tied, Google reported that 56% of smartphone searches conducted "on the go" had local intent.
  • 3

    In the example below, I will illustrate how to optimize for local mobile campaigns while dialling down your presence on desktops and tablets. The goal of this campaign was to target locations where individuals were most likely to be searching for a personal injury lawyer on their mobile device. We set radius targeting for 1km around locations such as collision reporting centers, hospitals, and police stations. Make sure to exclude these locations from your main campaigns to prevent bidding on the same keywords. Note that this a workaround and effectiveness will vary depending on your target audience.

    The 3 Steps To Target Mobile

    1. Create a new campaign with your desired keywords, ad copy and settings.

    2. Select the devices tab and set your mobile bid adjustment to +300%.


    3. Set your maximum CPC bids to an amount that when multiplied by 3, will achieve position 1-3 on mobile and position 4 or worse on desktops and tablets. For example, if achieving an average position between 1-3 on mobile requires a $45 bid, set your CPCs to $15 and be sure to set your mobile bid adjustments to +300%. ($15 x 3 = $45)

    The 2 Primary Goals

    Now, you're probably looking at the screen shot above and saying, there's still traffic on desktops and tablets. Yes, this workaround is far from perfect but it acts to achieve 2 primary goals:

    1. Increase mobile presence in your targeted locations.

    • In this example, we have achieved an average position on mobile of 2.7 at an average CPC of $47.25.
    • When compared to our non-mobile focused campaigns targeting the same keywords, our mobile campaign achieved a lower CPC than the average on computers for similar ad positions.


    2. Increase quality traffic at an affordable cost per click.

    • By targeting mobile more exclusively, we saw our ad positions on desktops and tablets average 5 and 4.7 respectively.
    • This actually worked in our favour because not only did we achieve a strong mobile presence, we still drove quality traffic on desktops and tablets for roughly a third of the cost we paid in our main (non-mobile focused) campaigns.


    The above strategy is specifically tailored for this campaign/industry, and may not be effective in all cases. However, when looking to target mobile more exclusively, consider these tactics as a way to increase the chance of reaching mobile users when they are most likely to convert.


    1. eMarketer March 2013
    2. Exact Target 2014 Mobile Behaviour Support
    3. Google Think Insights 2014

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