Google Mobile Advertising: Start Now!

In last week’s column, “Google Mobile Advertising: It’s Time to Start,” I agreed with Eric Schmidt that mobile advertising revenue will dwarf current ad spend on search and content networks. Unconvinced? Rewind to last week’s installment — then come back.

For many advertisers, dipping a toe into mobile advertising means facing the complicated prospect of creating special versions of their web sites. Different carriers and phone manufacturers require a bewildering array of protocols and markup languages. Google provides some mobile site resources for sorting out the options, but fortunately there are alternatives to creating mobile sites that can get many advertisers started without any time-consuming, expensive web development.

At the risk of being accused of heresy, I’ll start by describing the process of creating a Google mobile search campaign. Why stray from the focus on contextual advertising that’s the cornerstone (and title) of this column? Because understanding the dynamics of mobile search advertising is essential to creating great mobile content ad campaigns.

Besides, search advertising is just a subset of content advertising, right? In one case the context is a web site publisher’s page, and in the other, the context is a search-engine-supplied page of search results. (If this viewpoint doesn’t provoke a likely debate in the discussion forums, nothing will!)

So here goes — the first concept to grasp: mobile search ads can evoke three different actions:

  1. (The usual) click-through to the advertiser site
  2. A click that sends the “clicker” to a Google-supplied Business Page
  3. A click that immediately and automatically places a voice call to the advertiser’s phone number

The latter two options require zero web site development, and can be perfect options for certain advertiser types:

  1. Retail businesses that finish many/most of their transactions by phone, such as take-out restaurants, florists, or taxi companies.
  2. B2B businesses that crave phone leads. Sure, they need to have the processes and infrastructure to qualify and (hopefully) close clients within a call or tow — but many businesses do.
  3. B2C companies whose aspects straddle the previous two, like professional services: legal, financial, investment, etc.

Sound like you? Follow the bouncing ball:

  1. Create a new campaign in your AdWords account. This will be a search-only campaign, so keep in mind the important last step — turning off content delivery.
  2. Click on the Mobile Ad link
  3. Accept the first default (Text Ad) and face your first challenge: squeezing a compelling message into just 36 characters — 18 for the headline and 18 for the description line. Here’s where lessons learned from previous columns can help: emphasize the main benefit and focusing on the call to action: Get That Call. I’ll go into mobile ad writing best practices in a future column.
  4. Choose the options that direct ad responders to call you — and only call you. You’ll be given the opportunity to enter your business name and phone number. Squeeze more take-the-action motivators into these — more on that in future columns as well.
  5. Next step is choosing keywords. One important guideline will keep you safe: people are unlikely to type “long tail” terms into the Google Mobile search box. Focus on 2-word keywords, and even one-word ones, that are most likely to be used by harried, ADD-afflicted users of mobile devices (a.k.a. cell phones). They won’t be tapping “least expensive thin-crust pizza with anchovies and jalapenos” — they’ll be typing “pizza near here.”
  6. Enter your daily budget and max CPC bid, and you’re done… almost. Crucial last step (and this goes for any keyword-targeted campaign): go back into Campaign Settings and turn off the Content Network. The main reason: the keywords you’ve chosen will direct your ads to appear on the wrong sites. If this isn’t crystal clear to you by now, go back to column 1 of this series and read forward.

That’s it! Monitor your results via standard reports, tweak and test ad text and bid prices, and optimize your way to your crucial foothold in mobile advertising.

Think I’m right about the future of mobile advertising, or is the whole category a non-starter? Send me comments and questions via the feedback form below or in the SEW Forum Content Advertising thread.

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