At the recent SEMPO LA Mobile Event (sponsored by AT&T interactive) moderator Danny Sullivan told a story about the early days at Google. As early as 2000, Sergey Brin was telling everyone who would listen about the incredible applications of his search engine on cell phones. Even for a forward thinker like Danny, this seemed a little bit farfetched and ahead of its time. Fast forward to 2011, and Google still has quite a bit to say about mobile.
Mobile Commerce Is Maturing
Bon Mercado, a mobile product specialist at Google, said that the wide adoption of smart phones in the US (up to 50% have them in 2011) is paving the way for increased search queries, commercial transactions, and unique ad formats. Consumers are now much more comfortable conducting transactions via their device. Bon cited a Priceline statistic that 82% of mobile transactions came on the first visit to the site vs. only 45% on the desktop.
To further drive the point home, he quoted an incredible stat from EBay Motors that 1 in 3 Ferraris purchased on their site came via a mobile device. As consumers continue to buy via their devices, it paves the way for advertising dollars to flow to mobile and creates a more direct connection between online behavior and offline purchasing.
Local Advertising Is Scalable
One area that is starting to see mobile ad growth take off is in the local space. Corey McMahon from AT&T Interactive said that the company’s 1mm local advertisers are starting to take notice of mobile as a scalable and effective channel. He said that while your local pizza parlor may look out of place advertising on a traditional website, within a mobile experience it makes perfect sense, due to the device’s knowledge of your location.
As such, mobile ad networks are starting to be able to monetize their inventory much better through local advertisers than more price sensitive lead gen (or ringtone) folks.
Need For Mobile SEO Growing
As mobile adoption explodes, so will the sheer size and complexity of the mobile web. To that end, two of the panelists (Gideon Rubin from Lenco Mobile and John Cole from AT&T Interactive) cited a growing need for mobile SEO. Cole said that making mobile sites crawlable is essential and developers need to make sure they aren’t just applying desktop techniques, such as using session IDs, to their mobile websites.
Rubin, whose company enables live broadcasts to be consumed on mobile devices, said that it is particularly difficult to do SEO for mobile apps, since these are distributed through a small number of closed marketplaces. He believes that app developers have to lean on social techniques to create buzz about their products and drive distribution, but at the end of the day, a killer product will be the biggest driver of interest and adoption.
New Mobile Formats & Channels Emerging
Finally, Stephanie Schipper, technology and digital strategist at TakePart/Participant Media, wowed the audience with some very impressive statistics around her organization’s ability to drive awareness for a cause and get people to take action. She said that a text campaign around her studio’s Waiting For Superman drove a 50% response rate, since the first thing that people typically do when a movie ends is turn on their cell phones.
Schipper’s example highlights one of the most exciting things about the recent boom in mobile – the most effective ad formats can and should be very different than what we’ve seen to date.
This is a search marketer’s dream, as there is a huge palette of formats and channels to test, as well as a direct and measurable link between a consumer engaging with an ad and taking action in a storefront. It will not be surprising to see the search stars of today become the mobile stars of tomorrow…just look at Sergey Brin.
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