Blog Post

The State of Mobile Advertising in 2017

September 6, 2017
Table of Contents

Mobile advertising. The great frontier. Or more accurately, what Google keeps telling us to invest in. Why do they keep shoving this down our throats even when, in many cases, the direct return is extremely under-whelming? To win “micro-moments. A quick refresher here:

  • I-want-to-know moments: Someone is exploring or researching. Not transactional.
  • I-want-to-go moments: Someone is looking for a local business, perhaps a restaurant.
  • I-want-to-do moments: Someone is looking to complete a task. Oil change, laundry etc.
  • I-want-to-buy moments: …Should be fairly obvious

You’ll notice that one-quarter of these options leads directly to an online sale (in most cases). The argument that Google stands by is that if you can capitalize on the other 3 moments of the purchase cycle (broader influence), you’ll capture that sale eventually. What they’re not considering is the ever-expanding cost associated with winning these micro-moments.

If you’re showing an ad for a purely information search query, that’s potentially additional cost tacked on to the cost you’ll potentially accrue for the last-click sale (which you may capitalize on regardless of the high-funnel touchpoint, due to the nature of search).

How To Capitalize On Micro-Moments With Ads

So essentially, with Paid Search Ads via AdWords, if you want to capitalize on these micro-moments you’ll have to figure out if the return will (in the end) outweigh the cost. If I’m running a business where the margins are tight, that additional cost associated with mobile ad inventory might not make sense.

Perhaps my margins aren’t as tight and capturing mobile clicks as a brand-introducer makes sense. In this scenario (and really the only time companies should advertise on mobile) I should be focused on B2C or e-commerce. There really aren’t too many situations where this makes sense for a B2B market.

The other benefit of running ads on mobile is the added benefit of growing remarketing audiences. Google has been doing a lot of work to make sure that once a user is cookied, our ads will show for that remarketing list across devices (desktop vs. mobile). If we have a “cheap” way of generating mobile clicks to our site, then this can be a great source of growing your audience base, then capitalizing via RLSA or remarketing for the final sale to stay cost-effective.

Related: Fast Track Your Paid Advertising Efforts By Avoiding These 5 Key Mistakes

A third scenario here is if I’m running marketing initiatives for some huge retail company (think an Apple or a Nike) – taking as much impression share as possible to keep a consumer engaged will make sense (monopolize the space and drown out would-be competitors while also building your audiences). This means making sure our products/brands are well represented in the mobile inventory.

Something worth mentioning here too, is that mobile shopping ads (mobile PLA’s) typically come with obscenely low conversion rates. This can be okay if the cost per click is low and the revenue generated is high, but unfortunately, that’s typically not the case. Thus with PLA’s on mobile, we’ll see very low returns on ad spend.

If you’re starting to get the sense that my feelings towards mobile advertising aren’t very positive, you’re absolutely right.

“But what about winning those micro-moments?” you ask yourself. “Aren’t they important?” Extremely important. Building the top of your sales funnels is the best way to start capitalizing on the bottom of the funnel. I would just prefer to not pay a premium for that top-level introduction.

paid media services

How To Grow Your Marketing Funnel

Growing the upper portion of that funnel is important; and there are many ways to digitally cultivate that area.


This is the most obvious way to make sure you’re getting people to your site. The best part is that every click is free. A solid SEO strategy with continuous keyword growth will ensure that people will be finding your site for ‘free’, regardless of where they are in the funnel.

Investing in SEO is essentially “financing” your website traffic rather than leasing it with Ad spend. Also, it is definitely worth mentioning that if you are running a business with a brick-and-mortar store front, optimizing your local SEO can yield incredible results.

Bloggers & Social Media Influencers

While paying for ads is all well and good, for a new business or product, getting a brand ambassador can be great. Obviously Facebook and Instagram are primarily mobile entities, and getting brand representation through “organic” relationships to start driving engagement can be incredibly cost effective.

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads have no problem converting on mobile. So really, introducing your brand or product here and taking a funnel approach can yield big results. Facebook, as stated earlier, is mostly a mobile-centric platform in 2017. So investing in mobile advertising here makes a lot of sense. Additionally, with the help of UTM’s we can build up sophisticated remarketing lists within AdWords to help funnel a users’ purchase.

Mobile Search Ads

Now, ALL that being said, you can definitely see success with mobile search ads with AdWords. You just need to plan accordingly:

  • Make sure your site is mobile optimized
  • Utilize AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page open source)
  • Bid accordingly (don’t needlessly increase your bids to secure position)
  • Use your remarketing audiences.
  • Use different messaging in your Mobile Search ads than Desktop Search ads (via IF statements in Ad Copy)
  • Test different campaign settings to help figure out what’s going to be profitable (just like any other campaign)

Mobile Search Ads can cost-effectively build your funnel if you’re strategic about it. And utilizing the tactics listed above can also help you to accumulate a very positive ROI. You just need to make sure you’re optimized regularly. If you’re advertising search ads on mobile devices and aren’t seeing a return, check the ballistics. I’d recommend diving into Google Analytics to see if other channels see high CVR’s with mobile devices. If they don’t, then that’s a smoking gun as to why you’re not seeing success; essentially your site’s mobile experience sucks.

Related: How to Rock Mobile Marketing in 2017 [WEBINAR]

If the mobile experience is up to snuff (i.e. you’re seeing conversion volume in all channels other than paid), test some different messaging or landing pages. Also with mobile, keywords like “buy Nike cleats” or “shop Adidas running shoes” (focusing on intent) can definitely help.

Finally, if there is ever a time of year to advertise on mobile, it is definitely during the holidays. We’ve seen mobile conversion rates double and even triple for e-commerce campaigns. That being said, we’ve also seen mobile CPC’s spike at this time as well… so plan strategically!

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