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Targeting Mobiles with Enhanced Campaigns

There's a terrible amount of gossip floating around the Web about Google's new Enhanced Campaigns and most of what I've read is about the "loss" of mobile-only Campaigns.  There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth and dire predictions of doom, all of which seems to stem from the idea that you can't turn off desktops and tablets.

Is this true?

Well, in one way, yes.  There are no longer any checkbox options for choosing between desktop, tablet or mobile - and certainly no advanced choices for OS, models, etc. - but there are options that can focus Campaigns heavily towards mobile devices.  How effective they'll be, only time can tell - it's still extraordinarily early in the game - but they are there, so how do they work?

Most of the chatter talks about being able to "turn off" mobiles by setting their bid to -100% - so the Max CPC effectively becomes 0.  There's no option to do this for desktops or tablets - the only bid adjustment is for mobiles but you can make it positive.  This means you set a very large positive bid adjustment for mobiles effectively leaving the bids for desktops and tablets in the dust.  This is best explained by an example.

Let's say you're currently running a mobile-only legacy Campaign and you know that your CPC is generally around the $1 mark.  This is also the sort of bid for a desktop that'll get you in the "top" position in Google Search.  When you change to an Enhanced Campaign you can set your default Max CPC to $0.25 and set a bid adjustment of +300% which will result in a mobile bid of $1 - what it was before.*  However it leaves the desktop and tablet bid at just $0.25, almost certainly far below the threshold for any decent impressions or clicks.

*This wouldn't be the case if I did the math, but it's how Enhanced Campaigns work it out.

And there's more.  Enhanced Campaigns also allow you to specify a "mobile" preference for your Ads - there's a checkbox now in the Ad edit screen that allows you to say that you'd like this Ad to appear on mobile devices in preference to desktop devices.  Before you ask, yes, you can set all your Ads to this but it won't stop them showing on desktops, all it will do is make all the Ads potentially show on desktops.  A smarter course of action is to have just one Ad in each group that you've left as "non-mobile" and to write this Ad carefully, in the knowledge that it'll probably only be seen on desktops.  I wouldn't suggest that you make a bad Ad in the hope it never gets clicked - if the Ad is going to show anyway you may as well make use of it - but you could make it clear the nature of your business or even encourage they visit your site with their mobile.

So, no, there's no checkbox any more to select just mobiles but it's not all doom and gloom; with a combination of smart mobile bid adjustments and mobile-preferences Ads, you can get most of the way there.  When you add in all the other cool improvements that no one is talking about like bid adjustments based on location, better scheduling, vastly improved reporting, etc., much of which is focused on improving mobile support, Enhanced Campaigns are nowhere near the devils they're being painted.

Find out more about the Enhanced Campaign features

about Jon Gritton

AdWords Management Consultant, a Google Partner, based in Dorset, UK, but working worldwide... I'm very proud of having been a Top Contributor for AdWords since 2006 and enjoy being able to help others improve and develop their AdWords usage. I now work primarily as an AdWords Manager & Consultant. You can read my eBook "AdWords Preschool", just search on Amazon.

February 2013


Thanks a Lot Jon for great article. There is a lot of confusion about enhanced campaigns and your article has helped me a great deal in understanding enhanced campaigns in better way.




tomhalejr Badged Google Partner
February 2013

At this point, the max/min mobile to PC bid is (in USD) $3.00 mobile bid and $.01 PC bid, correct?

February 2013

Sorry, I'm just not convinced this isn't doom and gloom.


Let's say a call is worth $40 to your business and a visit to your website is worth $0.10.  300% is not going to get you there.  Maybe you sell products for the blind, maybe you have an amazing sales staff with great phone skills, maybe you only take orders over the phone, etc etc etc etc etc etc.)


Let's say your business is selling tablet accesories.  Not doom and gloom you say? Really?


Creating a desktop ad that caters to people on mobile devices is probably the best you can do as you say.  However, that will still kill your click through rates and quality scores.


Also, that assumes you are mobile only. What if you want desktop traffic just a radiclly different strategy?  Well you are out of luck there too because you would have duplicate keywords and you will be bidding against yourself.


The only hope is that Google makes a lot of changes before they force everyone to give up device targeting.

February 2013

Great breakdown of how the ad-level mobile ads will work. I hadn't heard about that yet. Taking it back to my team! 

So would you be suggesting that there be separate campaigns for Moble Enabled Ads? These being shorter & even more-so CTA focused? 

Maybe here's an example that will explain my thought better::

Enhanced Campaign
- AdGroup, Mobile Enabled (written in the adgroup name)
  - Shorter Ad, Fast CTA
   - Destination URL Mobile Friendly?
- AdGroup, Mobile Disabled
   - Longer Ad, More Information on landing page
    - Destination URL focused on Tablet/Desktop Integration? 

What are your thoughts on this type of account structure? 

Wolf doesn't seem pleased yet with the idea that we will have to make the transition to Enhanced campaigns, and I don't really blame him. 

Even though this isn't the topic of your post, I think it's worth mentioning that these changes, I think, are what Google believes is what's best for the internet first & foremost (all CPA data-hiding conspiracies aside). If they are noticing that the tablet traffic and the desktop traffic are behaviorally similar or near the same, then we need to be pushing for testing our websites / client websites for the best experience on every device.

After we get universal analytics from multi-device tracking, it won't matter if someone found you mobilly - you may even want them to! It's worth keeping an open mind about it now and realizing that Desktop computers may not be the primary conversion focus in 5 years. We need to be ready for the next step. 

Anyway, Great Post! Would love to hear your opinion on my suggested campaign structure. 

February 2013

I still don´t believe tablets are the same as desktops. IMy conversion rates are twice as big on Tablets than they are on Desktops. How can I bid the same for both?


If you are to separate Mobile from the other devices with a different bid %, why not do the same with Tablets?


Just my two cents.

Jon_Gritton Top Contributor
February 2013 - last edited February 2013

@Wolf359, yes, of course there will be people who will still want to run mobile only campaigns and will not, at the time of writing, be able to do so.  My post wasn't saying - and I have never said - that no one needs mobile only campaigns.  This post was a response to the many posts I saw around the Net that propogated the idea that there was nothing that could be done to give preference to mobiles.


@Jasmine, yes, I think we'll need to rethink how we structure Campaigns.  What that rethink means still needs some data though.  I'd always recommend tailoring Ads to fit their purpose.  If you're going to check the box for Mobile preference, that Ad should be formatted for mobiles and aimed at them and vice versa.


One thing I've really noticed over the past week or so is the number of people who are currently targeting only tablets with the argument that their product is for tablets.  Wolf359 has just said this here.  "Let's say your business is selling tablet accesories.  Not doom and gloom you say? Really?"  This suggests that as a tablet owner (as I am), I'm suddenly no longer interested in tablet accessories when I'm using a PC.  I recently bought a case & Bluetooth keyboard for my Nexus 7.  How did I buy it?  I tapped a search into Google and bought it all using my desktop.  Just because you sell for one device it doesn't mean necessarily that you should only advertise on that device.


With mobiles there is a clear point where such targeting is essential - when the service is charged through a cell provider rather than a website (in fact, a poster on the main forum doesn't even have a website!), but for the desktop/tablet debate I think the argument for advertising only on one or the other is a lot weaker.


@brunogiosa, I can't argue with your situation.  All I can say is that there is a reason for this, we just don't know what it is yet.



February 2013

Hi Jon,


Thanks for writing on this highly concerned topic. Yes @Cobnut, I'm strongly agree with you and understand that somehow it'll affect having control on devices separately but I can say Google, a gaint player of advertisement industry would not make it go doom. Smiley Happy



Anand Vishwakarma

Jim Banks
March 2013

Having had time to digest and also to experiment I am warming slowly to Enhanced Campaigns.


I particularly like the enhancements in respect of Sitelinks, the fact you can set up call only, report on individual sitelinks, have day-parting for sitelinks based on opening hours or the like. You can also have individual sitelinks per adgroup and you get much better reporting now on sitelinks.


I think as marketers we shouldn't forget the tried and true ROI measures.


Google are going to do a lot of the heavy lifting in respect of where to send people, I think we should be focusing on thinking about the different behaviour of users and how we can capitalise on them.


The fact it is one campaign generally it does mean less likelihood of lost sessions when users toggle from one device to another, that has got to mean more accuracy in respect of attribution and conversion data.


Universal Analytics is all about the user rather than the device, it collects data in a different way.


You only need to see the number of Smart TV's being bought to see that devices that are nethier desktop/tablet/smartphone will start to appear more frequently in buyers decisions.


Responsive/adaptive/mobile first might be more important things to spend time on.


There are now many more data points, with all the gender, location, day, time, interest points that can now be factored into your campaign dynamics it's becoming much more programmatic and I think if we focus just on the loss of desktop only campaigns we are missing the point.


Bid low as the default and then adjust up for mobile, gender, time, location and you should hit the sweet spot with your good and miss the black spot with the bad.

March 2013


Joe Levy
March 2013

Interesting and confusing considering the amount of effort Google should currently be pouring into gps-location-based and mobile-based advertising. Some sales are just more likely to happen when people are walking by a storefront, and should command a different target price than if you had to motivate someone to leave their boudoir.