In A Mobile World, Not All Mobile Performs Equally For Advertisers

It seems that every time I ride the elevator at my office building, every one of my fellow riders has a mobile device out — checking e-mail, making a restaurant reservation, even booking a trip… Whether I’m at bus stop, in line at Starbucks or dining in the cafeteria, almost everyone I see is peering at a mobile device.

shutterstock_159680132-people-with-smartphonesThis trend is not simply anecdotal. According to eMarketer, global smartphone users will top 1.75 billion in 2014, close to one quarter of the world’s population, and growth will continue on a fast-paced trajectory through 2017.

Mobile smartphone adoption is occurring at an amazing pace, with nearly 50 percent of people using a mobile device as their primary internet and search source, according to the research company Super Monitoring.

In the US, we expect smartphone adoption will soon break through the 50 percent of population adoption mark, with nearly 160 million active devices. Amazing statistics and trajectory.

Mobile Ads Follow Consumers

Of course, whatever mobile device people use, advertising dollars are following them. Here again, the numbers are really impressive. eMarketer recently reported that mobile advertising spending is expected to jump 75 percent in 2014.

This velocity will continue to be reflected in search advertising. The same research firm has estimated that US mobile phone search users will reach 129.1 million in 2014 and grow to over 201 million by 2018. That represents 75% of the mobile phone user population and over 61% of the US population.

How Do Mobile Devices Stack Up For Advertisers?

At Bing Ads, we’re seeing huge mobile momentum and the mobile trends up close. We recently completed research to understand how different mobile devices perform for search advertisers — and we saw some pretty interesting trends.

In our study, we looked at different mobile operating systems to see how they differ in terms of cost-per-clicks, impression and click yield, click-through rates and so on. The study looked at operating systems across the Yahoo Bing Network.

One thing we found is that iPhones perform strongest for advertisers. When compared to the average smartphone performance, iPhones had 17 percent higher CTRs while delivering CPCs that were 1 percent lower.

By comparison, Android performance was a bit sluggish. Using the same comparison, mobile devices running Android exhibited over 30 percent lower CTRs, with CPCs 2 percentage points higher than average.

Windows Phone 8 is very promising in performance, but needs greater scale. Comparing to the average smartphone performance, it delivered over 150 percent higher CTRs, with only 1 percent higher CPCs.

We took it further by looking at engagement. We wanted to understand what device operating systems delivered consumers that were engaged with advertising, not just the sheer amount of clicks. To do this, we studied the mobile traffic on Bing, examining user activity. We then categorized clickers in a range from Very Good Clickers down to Poor Clickers by mobile OS utilizing 3 percent click yield per user as a baseline “normal clicker.”

bing ads clickers

This approach yielded some very interesting insights to augment what we could see by looking simply at ad performance. Here is what we found:

iPhone has the highest combined amount of good and very good clickers.

  • iPhone OS has a lower share of non-clickers than average smartphone users, indicating an overall audience engaged in advertising
  • iPhone OS has a higher share of very good clickers than average

Android has the largest share of non-clickers amongst the top three operating systems.

  • However, its share of very good clickers is similar to the overall smartphone average
  • Android has a lower volume of very good clickers than iPhone OS but a similar share in clicks showing very strong engagement by a smaller few

Windows Phone 8 has a very high share of good clickers.

  • Far lower non-clickers than the average smartphone users
  • Impressions and clicks tracked closely to average smartphone performance indicating good value

This research makes it clear that Apple users are especially valuable to advertisers. They’re super-attached to their devices and prone to responding to the right advertising message or offer.

At Bing Ads, we could not be more pleased with these trends. According to comScore Mobile Metrix (February 2014), the Yahoo Bing Network has a stronger iPhone iOS reach compared to other mobile device OS types. We can validate that internally, as more than two-thirds of Yahoo Bing Network mobile traffic is iOS — providing quality over quantity.

Mobile Is Moving — Move With It

Clearly, mobile needs to be a part of companies’ advertising strategies. But how does an advertiser optimize ads for mobile? I can recommend three key steps:

1. Understand Mobile Intent. Again, remember that mobile search is different from desktop search. So tailor campaigns and user experiences to reflect this. We’re in the middle of tax season, so one might assume that ads aimed at people who need tax services would do well. But mobile searchers probably aren’t looking to drop in on a tax preparer. Instead, they may want to pick up or request a brochure. Design an ad accordingly.

2. Adopt Mobile Ad Products. Design campaigns that use tools that really supercharge mobile ads. For instance, both Bing and Google offer location extensions, which add a business address and phone number to your ads. Call extensions put your phone number inside a text ad; with just a click, customers can reach you. Sitelink extensions add specific links to your ad so people find what they’re after more readily. Finally, for retail advertisers, Mobile Product Ads represent a tremendous opportunity to deliver impactful ads to prospective shoppers.

3. Focus On Local. Most mobile users are just that — mobile. They’re on the go, not sitting at a desktop PC. What that means is many of the searches they perform have local intent. They’re looking for restaurants, shops or attractions perhaps within just a few miles of their location. With Bing Ads and Google AdWords, you can devise campaigns that hit searchers within a specific geographic radius, ensuring that the mobile searchers you reach are in your neighborhood, not across the country.

To summarize, mobile is fast become a huge part of the search-advertising landscape. Despite a fast pace, the landscape is not equal amongst mobile device OS types. You don’t want to be lost in that landscape, so start creating effective mobile ad campaigns today.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile Marketing | Mobile Marketing Column | Search Marketing


About The Author: is responsible for Microsoft Search Advertising’s global brand marketing and communications activities, which includes Bing Ads. He has over 15 years of digital marketing experience across a diverse set of industries, including Entertainment, Technology/Software, Advertising, and Creative Services. John has been overseeing search advertising campaigns for over 10 years.

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  • Ann07

    Hi John,

    To be honest, with all those essential facts you’ve just
    shared in this post, the very thing that popped out into my head is to actually
    get a mobile app that’s fully responsive and mobile friendly to work compatibly
    with these three top OS and the rest that dominate mobile devices today.

    If your business relies heavily on traffic, building your
    benchmark out of this relevant information is precious.

    By the way, I found this post shared on




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