Should You Run Mobile PPC Ads?

If you’re running Adwords ads on mobile, you could be throwing money away, warns Rob Drummond.

If you have been running pay per click ads you might know what Google and Facebook are extremely keen to convince you of the value of mobile traffic.

The reason for this I suspect is because they have so much mobile traffic to sell.

The primary change when Google introduced “enhanced” AdWords campaigns was that you can no longer turn off mobile traffic. Desktops and tablets are now bunched together, and you have to set a campaign bid modifier of -100% if you want to exclude mobiles.

If that sounds complicated then rest assured there are companies all over the world paying the Google Complexity Tax.

It is also not a coincidence that since this bundling of device targeting the cost per click on a mobile device has risen to something close to the price of a desktop click.

When Mobile PPC Works

I’m not against running ads on mobile, but it only really works in certain situations and for certain types of businesses. If you look through Google’s help documentation for example the examples they give are for a sandwich shop.

For a sandwich shop, mobile traffic will probably work great. People search for ‘sandwich shop London’. They see your ad. They click the ‘call now’ button. They place a lunchtime order. Everybody wins.

What if you sell something more complicated than sandwiches?

I’ll tell you what you don’t want to happen. You don’t want people browsing your non-responsive desktop website on their phone. They’ll soon get bored of zooming and scrolling.

Mobile traffic CAN be profitable, but for most of the clients I work with it isn’t where we start.

Mobile Traffic Isn’t Bullseye Traffic

Mike Rhodes (co-author of Perry Marshall’s latest book) uses the analogy of the archery target.


Desktop traffic for our primary keywords is nearly always inner gold traffic. It is highly targeted, converts well, but you may soon find that you are buying all the clicks available.

So, you move out to the red circle. The red circle could be remarketing traffic, or slightly broader keywords.

For most businesses mobile traffic is probably the blue or black circles. We only move out to the blue or black circles once we have bought all the profitable clicks available on the inner circles.

Display traffic for most businesses is usually the white circle. A HUGE number of clicks are available compared to the inner gold, but getting those clicks to convert can be hard!

This model applies equally well to Facebook, only on Facebook you CAN have mobile-only campaigns. The really cheap clicks on Facebook are all on mobile, because Facebook has a huge amount of mobile ad inventory to sell.

Rob’s Pro Tips for Mobile Ads

If you are going to run ads on mobile you should…

  • Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. You can discover how mobile-friendly your site is at (look for the tool called ‘Pagespeed Insights’ on the right hand side).
  • Consider setting up mobile-specific landing pages, possibly using something like Lead Pages, Unbounce or Thrive Content Builder.
  • Consider running mobile Facebook ads to a landing page hosted on a Facebook tab (Lead Pages will let you do that).
  • Try to get people off their mobiles as fast as possible. Try to capture their email address, or use click-to-call buttons.
  • Remove unnecessary distractions for your mobile visitors. For a great example of a mobile-friendly website, go to on your phone. Notice how you are presented with a different set of options to the desktop website.
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