It is important to write great mobile text ads because:

  • To reach valuable mobile clicks on AdWords ads in this highly competitive channel you need your ads to have a high ad rank.
  • Ad rank is a combination of your maximum cost per click bid and your quality score.
  • Quality score is mainly your click through rate – and to get a great click through rate you need to have great mobile text ads.

This article shows you how to write great mobile text ads to achieve all this.


You see them on their mobile phones – and by them I mean every person on earth.

The moment there is even a second of free time people immediately reach into their pockets and begin to click away on their phones. Mobile phones don’t just seem like an extension of the body – they basically are! Studies have found that 91% of adults always keep their mobile phone within arm’s reach.

Mobile is clearly where your customers are, so you sign up for AdWords in the hopes of reaching them. You write ads that you think will entice mobile users, launch your ad campaign and wait. And you continue to wait for days or even weeks as no one calls or even clicks on your mobile ads.

You begin to wonder if your ads even show. Not that it matters because even if they do show no one clicks on them.

Frustrated at the complete waste of time you give up on reaching users on their mobile phones and just hope people will notice your business in other ways.

This the experience for many businesses who to reach their customers on mobile. However, there is hope!

To succeed with mobile advertising you have to understand:

  • Why it is difficult to advertise on mobile devices and
  • What you can specifically do to write great mobile text ads which drive high click through rates, lower the cost per click and increase your return on ad spend.

Let’s dig in:

Why is it Difficult To Advertise on Mobile Devices?


1.Increased Competition

When Google introduced Enhanced Campaigns in 2013 it meant that from that point forward that all advertisers have to advertise on mobile devices.

There is really no choice – for any keyword, even if you set the mobile bid percentage to -100% it can still show on mobile devices. This one move by Google greatly increased the amount of competition for mobile ad slots.

Automatically opting in all advertisers for mobile ads means that the same number of advertisers compete for spots on desktop as on mobile however there are less slots on mobile for the ads to appear. This level of competition makes mobile advertising more difficult to even appear for.

I know this can be confusing, so let me give you an example:

Let’s say you run an ad campaign for Hotels in Santa Barbara. In this example, you have 12 competitors who also advertise for Hotels in Santa Barbara.  Here is the screenshot for the result to the query Hotels in Santa Barbara: 

hotels in santa barbara Google Search

As you can see there are 11 slots for ads to appear on the desktop. This means that only one of the advertisers out of the 12 in the example does not have their ad show.

Now on mobile the same number of advertisers are trying to show (because of Google’s enhanced campaigns they have to) but there are only 4 spots (2 on the top and two on the bottom) for the ads to appear. Look at the screen shot below:

2 slots

That means that 8 advertisers wouldn’t even show!

You need much better ads to even show with the increased competition for the mobile search engine results page.

2. Cut Offs

Mobile ads don’t appear in the same way that desktop ads do. In fact, many times your ad will be cut off for space reasons. Here is an example below:

Truncated DUI ad

You need to think about this (very likely) possibility when you are creating your ads for mobile. This causes two problems:

  • Many advertisers don’t realize this and create ads that do not take this into account. This hurts their click through rate and their quality score
  • This increases the difficulty because you have even less space to get your message across.

3. Different Motivations:

People use mobile devices differently than they do with desktop devices. Often they perform time based searches where they look for information to use right at that moment.

For example, users looking to purchase a new flat screen TV might spend hours on their desktop, researching all of the different specifications about the TV. However, in the store on their mobile devices, they look for the price difference to make an immediate purchase.

This increases the difficulty because many advertisers do not take into account the users’ motivation and create identical ads on desktop and mobile which hurts their click through rate.

With all this difficulty, it begs the obvious question…..

Why Do You Want to Advertise on Mobile Devices?

Mobile advertising offers a variety of benefits:

  • More Profitable Conversions: Mobile advertising is the only way that Google allows you receive calls form the search engine results page (called click to call ads), and research shows that calls are worth 5-10 times more than form fills.

Example of a click to call mobile ad

  • Getting Part of the Search Volume: More searches on Google are performed on mobile devices than on desktop. If you are not on mobile than you miss out on these searches and these potential customers. Additionally, mobile search takes up quite a bit of overall search volume in AdWords – Marin marketing estimates that more than 50% of all AdWords clicks will come from mobile devices.


Chart from Search Engine Land


4 Tips to Write Great Mobile Text Ads

1. Write Great Mobile Text ads by: Making Sure that You Select Mobile Preferred

I put this tip first because I consider this tip to be the most important. If you don’t follow this tip than none of the other ones matter.

Google has no native way of knowing if you intended your ad to be shown on mobile devices or for desktop devices. For this reason you must explicitly tell the AdWords system.

Explicitly telling the AdWords system means that Google will serve up your mobile ad when people search on their mobile devices like you intended.

If you do not tell AdWords when you want users to see your ad on mobile or desktop, you end up with a mismatch of device and call to action as seen below:

How to call

How am I supposed to call this number from my desktop?

To tell Google that you want your ad to be shown only on mobile devices, in the ad creation window simply check the box as seen below:

Mobile check box

That is it – now Google knows which ads to show on mobile devices.

2.  Write Great Mobile Text ads by: Aligning Your Mobile Text Ad With Mobile Intent

As we stated earlier – users on mobile devices have different search intent than users on desktop devices. These mobile users want information instantly, that they can act on with their mobile device and that is action oriented.

If you want to write great mobile text ads you need to use your knowledge of search intent to highlight to the user in your ad that they can connect with you instantly and on their mobile device.

This is not just advice – we found this to work for a scientific fact by running a split test for the mobile text ads for one of our clients where:

  • One ad specifically mentioned that you could call (they can act on their mobile device)
  • The other ad had no mention of this

ab call
You can see from the above results that the ad that had the call to action to Call for Your Free Consultation had a statistically significantly better click through rate (8.7% compared to 2.3%!) than the one that did not.

3.Write Great Mobile Text ads by: Giving Users a Way to Call You

Users on mobile devices want to make calls – in fact, 70% of mobile searchers have used a click to call to call a business directly.

As we noted earlier, studies show these calls are 5-10x more valuable to the business than form fills….. so why not provide these users with a way to make these calls from your mobile text ads?

The receive calls utilize the call extension in Google Adwords.

To accomplish this:


A. Go to your ad Extensions Tab:

Go to ad extensions tab

B. Go to view > Call Extensions

View Call Extensions

C. Click on the Red +Extension Button

Red Extension Button

D.  Enter your phone number in the box:

Enter Your Information

While you can select the mobile checkbox, you really don’t need to as it will show on mobile anyway. Selecting the checkbox for Device Prefernce Mobile means that your phone number will not appear in desktop ads.

When you have completed these steps your ad will look like this on mobile devices and users are able to click to call:

Example of a click to call mobile ad

4.Write Great Mobile Text ads by: A/B Test Your Mobile Ads Against Each other

The truth is the no one knows for certain what is a great mobile text ad before they launch it. No matter how smart you are, no matter how much experience you have and no matter how many blogs you read – you may think you write great mobile text ads but it is all just guesswork before the campaign is launched.

However, once you do launch your campaign and gather the data you can know with scientific certainty if one mobile text ad is better than other mobile text ads.

The way to accomplish this is with A/B testing (also called split testing). Split testing, simply has ads run evenly and at the same times and the data from what actually happened with these ads informs a system as to which ad is better. This allows you to tell with scientific precision which ad works best based on whatever metric you are optimizing for.

At the beginning, we recommend optimizing for click through rate as the higher the click through rate, the higher the quality score and the more likely your ad is actually going to appear on mobile devices.

At NDIB we use Optymzr, but there are many other great tools like AdAlysis from Brad Geddes to tell you when your ads have completed testing to an appropriate confidence interval.

The main setting you need to make sure of in AdWords is that your ads are set to rotate evenly. Otherwise, Google will show one ad much more than the other and you will never reach statistical significance.

To accomplish this:

A. Go to the settings tab:


B. Set your ads to rotate evenly:

Rotate Evenly

Nerd Tip – Make sure to only test mobile against other mobile ads!

Photo Credit:

Zach Morris phone from Vulture