Decloaking the Google WAP Mobile Universe: Why Your Mobile Campaign May Be Missing 65% of the Market

November 1, 2011 Akeel Haider

The rapidly growing mobile market offers a great platform for brands to extend their brand message and engage prospective customers. So, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a huge growth in mobile marketing campaigns.

What is surprising is how many of these campaigns are not correctly targeted or well optimized for a huge portion of the mobile market. In this post, I’ll explore one of the most influential mobile channels (Google Mobile Pay Per Click) and provide some tips on how to ensure your mobile campaign is reaching it.

Why Do Different Phones Display Different Search Results?

Many online marketers have no idea that a parallel universe exists of the web called the mobile web (or if they do, they may be unsure what to do with it). Understanding this is the first step in ensuring that your mobile PPC campaigns reach all mobile users.

In order to ensure mobile users reach the best/most helpful search results from their mobile device, Google has a dedicated index of mobile-compatible websites (a.k.a. the mobile web). These sites are indexed separately from the standard Google search index, and are served up in search results from feature phones (in paid ads, these sites get a cool mobile icon next to them like the one below).

In other words, doing a Google search query from a feature phone will serve up mobile web results; doing the same search on a smart phone or desktop will serve up results from the standard Google index, resulting in a different set of both organic and paid search results.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • If you have a smart phone (full HTML mobile browser), your organic search results will be similar to desktop, but the paid search results may be different (only ads that are set up to target smart phones will appear).
  • For Feature Phones (phones with a WAP browser), both organic search results and paid search results will be different than those on a desktop/smart phone. To reach feature phones with a paid search, a dedicated campaign is required (paid search campaigns that only target mobile WAP devices do not overlap with regular online paid search campaigns).

Why Should You Care?

With smart phones dominating the news, it’s not surprising that many marketers focus on optimizing their mobile campaign for a touch screen-based, smart phone experience. However, when you consider that 60-65% of the US market still uses feature phones, optimizing your website and your paid search campaigns exclusively for smart phones means you’re missing out on the majority of the US population (that are still using WAP browsers). Furthermore, if your target demographics don’t use smart phones, then building a mobile page designed only for smart phones is completely missing the mark.

Expanding your mobile campaigns to focus on feature phones can open up a totally new untapped universe of mobile users with different behavioral trends. And since fewer marketers are targeting the feature phone market, it can also provide a lower cost per click.

Finally, mobile WAP ad campaigns allow you to place a 1-800 track number right on the adword ad itself to generate inbound calls of high quality engaged prospects that can be tracked and reported on.

What Should You Do About It?

  1. Make sure your site has a mobile page that has been correctly built and optimized for feature phones.
    Since feature phones will only show mobile web pages in a Google search, in order to reach the maximum number of users – both through organic and paid searches – building a mobile website / page correctly is essential. It’s important to realize that Google also clearly states that “mobile pages that render badly on a mobile device provide a poor user experience, and may therefore not be added to Google’s mobile index .” In other words, just building for mobile isn’t enough – you need to build it properly.
  2. Create a separate paid search campaign to target feature phones/WAP browsers.
    It is easy to extend your paid search campaign to mobile smart phone via the Google paid search campaign setup but it is not as straight forward to do the same for the WAP phones. Google recommends creating a totally separate campaign targeting those phones and separating that campaign from your regular paid search — rightly so because it’s a totally different setup and keyword bidding is totally separate with different pricing.
  3. Consider outsourcing your mobile campaigns to a team focused on mobile.
    We know that running a mobile site and tapping into a mobile search audience isn’t easy – the “rules” of standard search marketing often don’t apply to mobile search. Our mobile experts are constantly testing and retesting our campaigns to optimize results – and we have the results to show for it.

If you’re interested in learning more about we can help you reach new, highly targeted markets through mobile devices, contact us today.

About the Author

Akeel Haider

Akeel Haider is the Vice President of Innovation and Strategy of Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest growing independent agency focused on performance marketing. In this role, Akeel leads the product and service development strategy for Sparkroom performance marketing technology. The proprietary award-winning Sparkroom performance marketing technology integrates marketing data, automates marketing processes and provides marketing analytics that drive smarter decisions and a more optimized budget. Since its inception, DMS has evolved into a full-service performance marketing company that services firms within highly complex and competitive industries including mortgage, education, insurance, consumer brands, automotive, jobs and careers. DMS has achieved incredible year-over-year growth, which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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