Optimising Mobile Search Ad Scheduling: A UK Perspective

Bill Fisher
May 21, 2012

Consumers are increasingly using their mobile and tablet devices to perform searches. According to Marin’s most recent research, mobile devices accounted for 15% of all UK paid search clicks in December 2011. As mobile devices become more proliferated, tablets, smartphones, and desktops are requiring separate targeting and optimisation strategies to be successful. The first step is to separate the campaigns. Separate campaigns will allow you to bid, target and optimise to the nuances of mobile ad formats, such as higher click-through-rates (CTR), different time of day trends and lower cost-per-clicks (CPC). This gives marketers more control over search campaigns and ultimately drives higher overall performance.

Separate device targeting will also allow you to optimise bids based on when your consumers browse on different devices. For example, a consumer may use his or her smartphone to search in the morning on his or her way to work, research further on a desktop at lunchtime and convert on a tablet device while watching TV in the evening. Consumers in your vertical may behave differently across devices. To optimise paid search activity for your consumers’ device behaviour, follow these two steps:

  1. Analyse device clicks and conversion throughout the day and week
  2. Implement a separate “Ad Scheduling” strategy for each device

Marin Enterprise Ad Scheduling UI

Analyse your data for varying volume and conversions through the day on the separate devices. For times/hours where you experience higher conversion rates on certain devices boost your position and drive more traffic for those devices. Reduce position for time periods with lower conversion rates. Each advertiser will have slightly different business goals, so you need to look at the times where a boost or de-boost will improve the performance of your key performance indicators (KPIs).

By looking at the average time to purchase and testing how different boost timetables work on certain devices--such as boosting when consumers are in the research phase--you can improve your hourly strategy to maximise performance. Device path-to-conversion information will help towards achieving this. Moreover, it’s worth looking at your day-of-week trends to find more signals to optimise to.

In the UK, the average CPC on a smartphone is roughly half that of a corresponding desktop click, while tablet CPCs are just over two-thirds the cost of a desktop click. With these favorable advertising conditions, following these simple steps will put you ahead of the curve and provide significant improvements to your paid search program.

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