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Pros & Cons of Mobile Campaign Segmentation

Published: August 9, 2016

Author: Stephen Bergen

One way to get more control over your mobile presence in AdWords today (there’s another option coming, and we’ll get to that below) is to utilize mobile campaign segmentation. This strategy involves making a copy of your campaigns, labelling them as “Mobile,” and setting the mobile bid adjustment up 300%. The original campaigns have their mobile bids set to -100%, effectively creating campaigns that target mobile users and campaigns that target desktop and tablet users.
We have all had clients with websites, products, or services that perform differently across different devices. Most of the time, simply setting a mobile bid adjustment is enough to optimize for mobile use. However, there are many cases where mobile needs to be targeted directly.
Here is a quick list of the pros and cons of segmenting out mobile devices by campaign.


  • Budget allocation
    • Unlike using just a mobile bid adjustment, splitting out the campaigns allows control over the budget. You can set budget allocation across devices to capitalize on which device performs better.
    • You can even go to the extremes of shutting off one device or another if it performs poorly. Segmenting out mobile traffic may be useful for specific industries or for companies without a mobile-optimized website. Segmenting out desktop traffic might make sense if you are targeting mobile-specific behaviors, or your desktop traffic is too expensive.
  • Targeted messaging, length and LPs
    • You can easily target your messages to mobile users, giving the ad copy a more optimized length, changing the language to reflect the device targeting, and even pointing ads to specific promotions, landing pages, or mobile optimized experiences.
    • While this isn’t unique to a mobile-segmented campaign, it is easier to organize and keep track of any testing you have running.
  • Mobile analysis at a glance
    • By segmenting the mobile out into campaigns, it is much easier to see a top-level view of the mobile performance across your channels. This isn’t perfect (see the cons section), so be sure to pull device reports on a regular basis.
  • Google announced in May that they will be launching a more finite device targeting solution. This change is “coming soon” and might be rolling out to your client any time now. This will allow further segmentation, higher bid adjustment options, and bid adjustments for desktop and tablets.


  • Still can’t place bid adjustments on tablets
    • Bid adjustments by device are still limited to mobile, so we aren’t able to optimize around tablets just yet. Hopefully Google will implement bid adjustments across tablets sometime soon.


  • Mobile segmentation isn’t perfect, so keep an eye on it
    • The desktop campaigns will be able to segment out all mobile traffic, since the bid adjustment is set to -100%. However, the mobile campaigns are not able to reduce the bids for desktop or tablet traffic, so some traffic may still come through – even though desktop and tablet bids can be prohibitively high.
  • Be careful when making Max CPC bids and setting bid adjustments in the mobile campaigns
    • A 300% mobile bid adjustment is a bid that is 4x larger, so be careful. That $0.25 bid is really $1, and that $2.50 bid is really $10, so adjusting bids can be more challenging. If you’re adjusting bids by percent, you can make the same adjustments; just be sure to factor in the factor of 4!

Hopefully this list gives you insight into the possible benefits and the unfortunate restrictions in utilizing mobile campaign segmentation for your business or your client. Happy marketing!

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