Device Reality. Devices are widespread. Updates are never-ending.
Operating System Reality. Ditto.
Search Reality. SERP layouts change constantly. The engines test formats, extensions, colors, navigation, text size, you name it. There is no stasis.
The intersection of the Device, OS and Search realities can be a bear for search marketers. For example, recently, I wondered what Product Listing Ad (PLA) formats looked like on Android vs. iPhone vs. other devices. I did a search for ‘canon eos rebel’ on my Android Smartphone, and did not see any PLAs:
Performing the same search on a teammate’s iPhone 5 produced a different SERP, with PLAs:
For the Search Marketer, how do you monitor the various Device, OS and SERP changes quickly and efficiently for top keywords? Owning each device with various system versions is not an option. Luckily, there’s a simple and easy way to answer that question, already built into your Chrome browser! The secret lies in overriding your browser’s User Agent.
To change your Chrome User Agent, follow these 3 easy steps:
Step 1: Tools > Developer Tools
Step 2: Developer Settings (Gear Icon)
Step 3: Overrides > User Agent
After selecting one of the predefined options, the web behavior on the active browser tab will act as if you are running that OS, browser type and/or software version.
I can now easily take a look at the same query for 'canon eos rebel', as if I were using an iPad:
For tips on User Agent switching for other browsers here is a good reference.
I should note that Google’s Ad Preview Tool allows for much of the same functionality, depending on what you’re looking for. It won’t allow you to click through to the landing page, and it does not allow for some advanced, custom variations. However, it is a pretty capable tool, so feel free to use it as a secondary option.
That’s it! Go forth and see what your ads look like in the wild!