You can target Google mobile ads by location, but now Google is opening up two new targeting options for mobile ads running through AdWords. Ads shown on a mobile browser can now target by mobile device or by carrier. It is not clear how many devices are supported, but at the very least advertisers can specify that their ads only be seen on iPhones or Android devices.
To the extent that people who own those types of devices represent a more affluent demographic, it might make sense to concentrate a mobile ad campaign on those consumers. Targeting by carrier seems less helpful for advertisers and more like something Google is just making available because it gets that data automatically and it is technically possible. Other than for carrier-specific promotions or attempts by mobile phone competitors to steal away each other’s customers (okay, that’s a huge business right there), it is not going to improve ad effectiveness that much.
In addition to targeting ads by device, Google can also customize download links for mobile apps by device so that if a company is advertising a mobile app, people who se the ad on an Android will get the Android market download link and those on an iPhone will get the Apple App Store link. Already, Google offers contextual in-app ads via AdSense, which have their own targeting capabilities (by app, category, location, and keyword). The new Mobile AdWords ads brings better targeting to regular search ads seen in mobile browsers.