Is AdWords advertising on mobile devices worth it?

A client recently asked for my thoughts on the mobile traffic to his company website, and if this was something which should be prioritised. We’ve all read reports about how the majority of search engine accesses are being made on smartphones and tablets, and about how it’s the future. But how important is it currently, in our little B2B niches?

The client’s website visitor analytics showed that visits from mobile sources (excluding AdWords) is still only around 10%. This is at the low end, but it can be explained. We find that three things in particular add significantly to mobile device visits:
– Company name searches (perhaps largely people on the road looking up contact details);
– Email-driven visits (because so many people check email on mobiles);
– Additional Google search traffic (for mobile-friendly sites, as these are promoted in the mobile search results).

If you’re not a major brand, you won’t get as many extra visits from company name searches; if you don’t undertake major email marketing campaigns, you won’t get many extra visits from email clicks; and if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you won’t get extra mobile visits from Google. If all of these are the case, then just 10% of visits on mobile isn’t too surprising.

I’ve seen as high as 25% of visits being on mobile devices for clients in engineering and scientific sectors. I believe, however, that the difference between companies may be down to additional traffic. For example, a company might normally get 900 visits from desktop PCs and 100 visits from mobile devices (10%). But taking advantage of the sources above, it might then get an an additional 200 visits from mobile devices (25%). That’s a 20% increase in traffic which changes the proportions, not a shift.

In general, the bounce rate of mobile visitors from adverts is higher; I think we can all guess that the number of accidental clicks will be much higher than on desktops. Engagement on non-mobile-friendly sites is lower too (people on mobiles don’t tend to hang around as much). So combine those two reasons, and unless we’re running a search advertising account which is struggling to find sufficient traffic from anywhere, that’s why we concentrate on desktop PC advertising.

Also remember that low engagement (and a non-mobile-friendly site is an instant indicator of this, Google doesn’t have to measure it!) means a low quality score in AdWords, so the click price is pushed up to even higher levels than on desktop PCs; another reason to avoid advertising on mobile devices.

Google is obsessed with mobile advertising at the moment: it can see the way the wind is blowing. Every time I have a conversation with our account consultants there, the first thing they want to talk about is why we’re not using it for most of our clients. If you’re using an advertising agency which is spending a lot of your PPC advertising budget on mobile devices, it’d be interesting to hear their justification, if one exists.

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