Should You Be Using Device-Specific Campaigns in PPC?

Back in 2013, Google announced their Enhanced Campaigns where they paired devices together to try and promote mobile-first campaigns. Not long after, Bing took the same initiative.

I realize that I’m biased – and have posted in these blogs before about the reasons I favor device-specific campaigns when putting together your AdWords strategy – yet I think I speak for just about anyone in the digital marketing industry when I say that we, as a whole, were not pleased. While device-coupled campaigns offered mobile-specific messaging, they removed the ability to target mobile-specific keywords or to budget by device. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but digital marketers – and especially PPC managers – are a breed that really appreciates the ability to have extremely precise control.

Earlier this year, Google finally reversed this change and allowed digital marketers to modify bids and campaigns by device type. So, essentially, device-specific campaigns are back in the PPC world as of May, 2016. As ecstatic as many in the digital marketing community were to see this change rectified, there seems to be a little bit of hesitation over relaunching device-only campaigns.

Here at Citywide, we’ve talked more than once about the advantages of device-specific campaigns, so it’s probably not a shock to any readers of this blog that I’m personally a fan of segmentation. That being said, this isn’t a simple black-and-white issue anymore. With the rising complexity of Google AdWords and the changes that have been implemented in the past three-plus years, you really have to factor in the pros and cons of device-specific campaigns to see if this strategy is right for you as a small business.

The Case FOR Device-Specific Campaigns

Maximize Your Search Volume

Mobile search volume is statistically higher at the end of 2016 than it has been at any point in our history. Typically, most studies show that mobile searches are up 10-15% from numbers in 2015, and up astronomically from where they were just three years ago in 2013.

Device segmentation allows you to adjust your campaigns so that you’re hitting search traffic when each device’s use is highest. Typically, mobile PPC traffic has a tendency to spike on weekends and in evening/commuter hours, tablets remain more level, and desktop peaks midday.

Accommodate Different Demographics

It’s not surprising, but different devices offer different results and hit different demographics. Traditionally, mobile customers tend to have a lower average order value or be more impulsive. While they tend to provide more traffic, they also tend to convert at lower rates. Meanwhile, tablet users tend to be older females, while desktop searches skew slightly more male. Adjusting your campaign to fit different demographics can help target the most ideal customers for your products or services accordingly.

Device-Specific Budgeting

Your AdWords campaign always comes down to how you’re using your budget most effectively. With device-based campaigns, you’re able to gauge performance for each of the different devices, see what is leading to the most conversions and then adjust the budget accordingly. While there were technically some work-arounds with the previous device-coupled program Google ran from 2013 to 2016, making hyper-specific adjustments has gotten much simpler and efficient.

The Case AGAINST Device-Specific Campaigns

 Complexity/Information Overload

As anyone who has ever tried to run a DIY AdWords campaign can attest, the platform has a LOT of information in it and can definitely be intricate. Add in the extra customization of having multiple device-specific campaigns and all of the sudden even an experienced PPC manager can find him or herself over their head. While adding additional device-specific campaigns doesn’t necessarily mean increasing your workload, it does mean you’ll have more customization to monitor on a daily basis.

Smaller Data Samples

If an average campaign gets 100 clicks a day and you craft device-specific campaigns, you’ll likely wind up with 60 mobile clicks, 30 desktop clicks and 10 tablet clicks. When you segment this by device, you may lose the ability to make campaign-driven or even keyword-driven bid decisions because the dataset is simply too small.

Google Technically Doesn’t Support Them (Yet)

You heard right. While Google acknowledges that device-specific campaigns are possible, they’re not supported. You generally need to hack a few things together to ensure full functionality with bidding platforms, namely that back-end settings need to be changed to make the bid tools work properly.

Final Verdict on Device-Specific Campaigns?

Does your business 100% absolutely have to implement device-specific campaigns in AdWords? Complete disclosure: not really. However, you should strongly consider whether these types of modifications would be advantageous to your business. Although I’m a fan of the customization and hands-on management that device-specifics campaigns offer, the truth of the matter is that device-specification isn’t the best fit for every campaign or even every business.

That being said, I highly recommend that anyone interested in maximizing their Google AdWords campaign reach out to our team of PPC experts here at Citywide SEO for a free PPC consultation to see if your campaign could benefit from some next-level device customization.