2010: The Year Of Small Business Resurgence & (Finally!) Mobile Advertising

No one needs a new survey, study or pundit to tell them how important mobile devices have become to consumers. Just look down the street where everyone from teens to corner-office suits appears sidetracked by communication on the go—texting, talking, thumbs jumping across tiny keyboards in a hurried attempt to reply-all.

This is the audience of the future. And 2010 may just be the year for advertisers to tip the scale in reaching it. The technology powerhouses (i.e. Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Apple) are finally diving into mobile advertising in a huge way, recognizing the approach of critical mass.

None of this is new. The market has been predicting that mobile will explode for years. Somehow, it hasn’t. Not yet, anyway. But that is all about to change—partly because of the dissolution of advertising in traditional media, but mostly because consumers are beginning to demand it.

The “smart” in smart phones is finally proving itself. And the businesses that have the most to gain from this newfound demand will be local, small business advertisers offering what consumers want to buy right now. In our experience, restaurant takeout, florists or home/consumer services such as carpet cleaning, self storage or auto repair are good examples of business categories that are particularly well suited for mobile campaigns.

An improving economy is bringing about a resurgence of small businesses—make that local businesses. Businesses with traditionally shallow advertising pockets, but all the more need for exposure.

High conversion rates, low cost and the ability to target highly local audiences will push mobile advertising into the spotlight this year. We have experimented with a number of mobile ad offerings and while we can’t give out all the secrets, we can say that we’ve had significant success with mobile search and increasing click-to-call ratios with mobile landing page optimization. Some best practices around succeeding with mobile include building campaign architectures and keywords specifically for the mobile user. This may include shorter keyword phrases, acronyms and even slang terms. Marketers should also consider the landing page for mobile campaigns – while iPhones and Droid phones are able to view full HTML pages, at least 85 percent of the market (according to a 2009 comScore study) still use other types of phones where mobile-friendly landing pages are a must for effective viewing.

A recent New York Times article made similar points, noting a prediction from Juniper Research that mobile ad spending worldwide will more than quadruple, to $6 billion, by 2014. Analyst Windsor Holden goes on to say that, while everyone has been hoping for the past five years that mobile advertising will take off, this will actually be the year it finally gets significant traction.

The first rule of business: give customers what they want when they want it. For example, a busy working mom who needs to send a bouquet can easily use her mobile device to find a florist. But her smart phone might go beyond mere directory search to display geo-targeted ads that only show results near her location, and then present a local florist’s phone number that she only has to tap or click to call.

Highly specific targeting, including leveraging aggregated consumer-related information, will also aid in the advent of mass mobile advertising. Much like paid-search ads, that local florist’s ad might appear on the working mom’s smart phone reminding her of a special occasion. Additionally, seeing the florist’s ad on a smart phone allows the working mom to easily store the business’ name and number for future reference, increasing the likelihood of repeat business.

Not only are the conversion rates generally high with mobile ads, the cost of entry is incredibly low compared to traditional local advertising. Mobile advertising campaigns are comparatively easy to set up as well. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that the time for taking full advantage of mobile ad inventory is now, while the costs are artificially low as a result of many advertisers still spending their budgets on PC ads. According to eMarketer, only 1 percent of total U.S. advertising spend is directed towards mobile. Of that 1 percent, the bulk is used for SMS advertising, which generally is harder to make work for local.

With the power of search at their fingertips, consumers have become increasingly dependent on information on the go. Advertisers can capitalize on this trend and offer their potential customers service with convenience via mobile advertising.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Local Search Column


About The Author: is the Vice President of Product Management at Marchex, overseeing a diverse team of product and program managers and designers.

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  • http://www.ioninteractive.com allenkristina

    Hey Tom – very insightful post into the future of mobile advertising. I love what you said about targeting highly local audiences. Any time we can hyper-target an audience and deliver specific messages we’re on the fast path to converting that viewer.



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