Nick Rennard
By Nick Rennard | SEM | January 19, 2015

Breaking Up Mobile & Desktop AdWords Campaigns

Greetings fellow AdWords advertisers!

I recently wrote about how to segment and delve into the performance of your mobile campaigns. Today,we’ll expand on that and review some options for different campaigns with different data. Let’s review the three potential possibilities:

Potential Option 1: Mobile is terrible, and you should shut it off immediately (or decrease bids dramatically to see if it converts profitably at a lower cost per click).

Potential Option 2: Mobile is doing significantly better than desktop, and you should increase your mobile bids (more info here on how to adjust mobile bids).

Potential Option 3: Mobile performance is somewhere in the middle (slightly better/worse than desktop), and you’d like to break apart your campaigns and manage them separately.

Option 3 sounds great, but it’s easier said than done. Here’s the problem we’ll encounter when trying to separate mobile and desktop campaigns:

The problem is that you can’t simply run a strictly mobile campaign or a strictly desktop campaign (keyword: device PREFERENCE). One option you might consider when trying to break these apart would be to simply create one campaign labeled “Desktop” and give it a -100% bid to mobile with Device Preference = All. The second campaign would be labeled “Mobile” with a Device Preference = Mobile. But, there is a problem with this plan: the word “preference” means that your mobile campaign will still show on desktop. Google’s algorithm will only ‘prefer’ mobile, but won’t block you from showing on desktop. So, the problem with this configuration is that your two campaigns are going to end up bidding against each other (!!!). Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds, but let’s review how to dig ourselves out of this quagmire.

Smart phone and laptop
To create the “Desktop” campaign, follow the exact steps I just listed. Create a campaign, set it to Device Preference = All, and then give it a -100% mobile bid. This technique works for segmenting your desktop campaigns.

Creating the mobile campaign is a bit trickier. To segment your mobile traffic, follow these steps:

1.) Copy and paste your original ‘Desktop’ campaign in the AdWords Editor, and set the device preference to Mobile

2.) Highlight all of your keywords and decrease the bids on them by 66%

image 2
3.) On the campaign level, set your mobile bid adjustment to increase the bids by 300% (side note: this is the highest you can increase bids by for mobile in AdWords)

Post your changes and… done!


“Wait… what exactly did that do?”


Since you can’t shut off desktop traffic within AdWords, what we’re doing with this technique is slashing ALL bids within the ‘Mobile’ campaign by two thirds (-66%). Then we’re setting a rule that increases all of our mobile bids by 300%. This sets our mobile bids back to the original bid value, but our desktop bids remain drastically decreased. We’d decrease it by more than 66% to ensure that it was entirely shut off, but keep in mind that the maximum we can increase mobile bids by is 300%, so this is the best we can do with the limitations of the AdWords Editor.

One thing to note: you may still generate desktop clicks within the campaign, but it won’t happen very frequently. Even if you do generate a click, it will be at a very cheap cost per click, so it’s likely still a good click for you. With the desktop bids being drastically lower in this campaign vs. the other ‘Desktop’ campaign, the AdWords algorithm will prefer your desktop campaign for these clicks 99.9% of the time. Also, with the bids being so different, you don’t have to worry about the campaigns bidding against each other. The bid that’s 3 times larger will easily win bidding auctions the high majority of the time (assuming it’s not limited by budget), and there won’t be any danger of over-paying for clicks.

This technique allows you to break apart your mobile and desktop campaigns separately. You can manage them with different budgets, ads, keywords, etc. You can still do much of this stuff when they’re combined into the same campaign, but it’s harder to analyze your data from mobile vs. your data from desktop traffic when they’re all clumped together.

Happy Advertising!

background dots

In the time it takes to read this sentence, you could be on your way to a well-oiled demand generation machine. Ready for your blueprint?

yes, i want my Digital blueprint

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /nas/content/live/digitalreach/wp-content/themes/DRAmatic/single.php on line 152

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /nas/content/live/digitalreach/wp-content/themes/DRAmatic/single.php on line 153

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /nas/content/live/digitalreach/wp-content/themes/DRAmatic/single.php on line 156