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Online advertisers are generally seeing more sales coming through from desktops and laptops than mobile phones. But that’s not to say mobile clicks are not valuable.

Instead, advertisers need to use alternative ways to measure the contribution of mobile devices to overall paid search programme goals.

Google’s enhanced campaigns upgrade is all about helping pay-per-click (PPC) advertisers make the most of the opportunities presented by different devices, including mobile devices.

The table below shows paid search spend, clicks and cost-per-click (CPC) by device for UK paid search advertising from Q1 2013.

Interestingly, it shows that while UK advertisers’ share of total spend on computers (72.3%) and tablets (16.7%) is closely aligned with the share of clicks they generate, phones lag behind with 11.5% of total clicks yet only 7.8% of the total spend.  

U.K. Paid Search Spend, Clicks and Cost-per-Click (Q1 2013)

Device Share of total paid search clicks Share of total paid search spend Cost-per-click
Computer 72.3% 75.5% £0.30
Tablet 16.3% 16.7% £0.30
Phone 11.5% 7.8% £0.20
(Source: Kenshoo Global Search Advertising Trends, © Kenshoo, Inc. 2013)

The fact that mobile phone ads have a lower CPC than computers and tablets gives advertisers the opportunity to efficiently increase incremental clicks by allocating more spend to this device.

But because advertisers are likely to be seeing fewer direct sales coming through from phones, it’s difficult to justify additional ad spend. And, because mobile phone clicks have been less sought after they remain at a lower price. 

But advertisers shouldn’t expect a phone to deliver the same web-based conversions as a desktop or laptop, or even a tablet. They need to find other ways to define a conversion on a mobile phone than a direct sale.

Here are six alternatives to consider:

Store location /opening times checking

Many consumers use mobile phones to check store locations when they’re out and about or to see if the local outlet is open. 

Obviously this sort of mobile conversion is valuable for driving offline sales.

Click-to-calls

Generating click-to-calls are a valuable contribution that mobile phone visibility can give you. And if you operate a telephone sales operation then this mobile conversion can directly lead to sales.

Sign-ups for newsletters/further information

If you’re trying to build long term relationships with customers or for longer sales cycle, high value or technical/B2B sales, then sign-ups for emails or for further information are useful mobile conversions.    

Registrations for loyalty programmes or your social pages

Again if you’re looking to build relationships to drive repeat purchases, then mobile sign-ups to loyalty schemes or Facebook Likes could be a conversion worth giving value to.

App downloads

Mobile app downloads are a fantastic web conversion. UK retailers such as Asda have shown, mobile apps are effective in building loyalty and supporting sales.

Check-ins via location based services

Location based mobile check-in services such as FourSquare can support awareness and promotion of bricks and mortar stores, restaurants and other leisure outlets – another potentially important mobile conversion.

When planning your paid search advertising activity it is important to properly understand the value provided by conversion events such as those mentioned above. Marketers need to use advanced technology platforms that can help track these conversions and distribute proper credit to their contribution to sales via dynamic attribution.

Matthew Whitehead

Published 9 May, 2013 by Matthew Whitehead

Matthew Whitehead is Lead Solutions Consultant, EMEA at Kenshoo UK Ltd  and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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