Targeting ads to consumers using new mobile phones

If your business is selling mobile-related products (ringtones, games, apps, accessories and so on), you probably want to reach consumers when they’ve just bought a new mobile phone. They’ll still be  excited about what it can do, and are more willing to try new stuff.

It’s possible with Google AdMob to target people who’ve just activated a new (Android) phone, using in-app ads, either text or image-based. We wanted to see how effective this is, so we’ve just completed a study into how click throughs and conversions compare from new phone users (within 14 days of activation), to those using other devices. 

First of all, the clicks. Click rates from newly-activated devices are 24% higher than from other phones. Until recently, you might have argued that this was people clicking on an ad by mistake (particularly if they’re finding their way round a new phone). But late last year, Google introduced a ‘one and a half clicks’ system on text ads to stop you clicking through without meaning to. How this works: you click on the ad, which then enlarges as if to say ‘are you sure?’, and you then have an option to close the ad, or click again to go through to the website. It’s virtually eliminated accidental clicks, which are more likely from someone navigating a new phone. Unsurprisingly, text ads had a much higher conversion rate (16% better) than image ads – most likely as a result of the new system.

More importantly, conversion rates from newly-activated devices are 53% higher. This tells us definitively that the click throughs aren’t coming from people who are doing it by accident.

You can already specify exactly which phone or Android version you want to target. If you only want to reach people who use an HTC ix, or who are running Android 4, you can do that. What you can’t do – at the moment, at least – is to control where your ads appear. You can’t target by types of app.

But this is Google we’re talking about. My money’s on the targeting getting more sophisticated, in the way that is has on the Google Display Network (GDN). It seems an obvious next step.

The upshot: if you’re targeting mobile phone users with a mobile-related product, this is definitely worth doing. And it’s only going to get more effective.

Marc Warren is MD of PPC specialist agency, Periscopix