Mobile Fix: Unlocking the value of mobile search

02 Nov 2012  |  Simon Andrews 


Simon Andrews, founder of the full service mobile agency addictive!, rounds up this week's mobile news.

The three most valuable search terms are mortgage, loans and insurance. These are the words that command the highest bids and are amongst the most sought after. So, the people running search marketing should be pretty savvy?

Every time we have searched for these words on mobile we have found that at least one of the top two advertisers is paying Google top dollar to drive people to a site that doesn't work on mobile. Try it yourself and see.

Given all the data suggests most people will give up on a site that isn't #FitForMobile, you would think these brands are seeing high bounces rates and low time spent etc. They are clearly wasting money.

Every time we have done the math with a brand, we have seen that we can fund the development of a mobile site purely through the value unlocked by making mobile search work. Do the math on your brand.

Tablets

With the new iPad mini available it's worth looking at the tablet marketplace.

Over the past few weeks we have seen new devices from Amazon, Microsoft and Google as well as Apple and it's pretty clear that this Christmas will see lots given as presents. The question is who is going to take the lion's share?

Despite the role of Apple in creating this market - with the iPad the fastest selling device in history - its dominance is in question. As the market has grown some people have turned to lower priced products, with US research showing the iPad market share to have fallen from 81% in 2011 to 52% this October.

And as Apple results showed, iPad sales in Q3 missed their target - selling 14 million versus 17 million for the previous quarter. Of course some people delayed buying because they suspected a new version was coming - and 26% year on year growth is not something many products enjoy.

But the market is now much more open and we think a key issue is going to be how people react to the iPad mini? At a lower price point and - arguably - a more convenient form factor, could this become the lead iPad? Some are drawing comparisons with the iPod mini launch, which drove a huge rise in sales but we won't see that effect here.

Mashable have compared the various seven inch screen products and it's clear that the iPad mini has the better spec but it is more expensive. And with news that the Nexus 7 is selling a million units a month, there is a market for the cheaper products. But we suspect for the time being the iPad mini will be the winner - not least because it offers most of what the 'real' iPad offers at a lower price.

The reviews are very good, and we expect big sales; but the Nexus and Kindle are going to do well too.

For the full size iPad the new news is that the Microsoft Surface looks like it could be a strong challenger. Probably not for the consumer market but for people using tablets for work - the keyboard cover and pre-loaded Office could be a deciding factor. And for all those corporate IT people beleaguered by the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) crowd, this could be a way to fight back.

While allowing people to bring their own devices has been tolerated by some businesses (and despite the steps Apple have taken to improve security of email etc.) most enterprise would like to seize control back. And a well specced tablet that works on Microsoft will help. Google take it seriously enough to be running a campaign to help Surface users Get your Google back - to counter the baked in Bing and IE browser.

Of course the problem for all the iPad competitors is the lack of apps. And with the disparity of screen sizes can we expect content providers to produce bespoke apps for all these devices? Probably not, so we think that where will be renewed focus on html5 and browser based content and services will prevail - but getting this right for all devices requires some smart thinking on user experience and design.

Facebook gets traction in mobile

On the back of figures showing Facebook mobile revenues reached US$150m in Q3, the share price rose by 19% suggesting investors have more belief in the ability to monetise mobile traffic.

"I want to dispel this myth that Facebook can't make money on mobile," said Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive. "This may have been true six months ago, because we hadn't started trying yet."

With new targeting options that allow ads to be delivered only to specific OS devices, we expect this spend to grow rapidly. As studies demonstrate that mobile can be hugely important within Facebook - with the proportion of new fans delivered through mobile up by 400% in six months - mobile ads will become essential for brands who want to make the most of Facebook.

A new paper from Facebook Studio explains paid and earned reach, making it clear that the way to use Facebook is more traditional than some might have thought; just like any medium you really need clever creative and a media budget to get it seen.

Leading brands on Facebook can use paid media to extend their total brand reach beyond the reach they achieve using organic media alone. Among a selection of 100 top brand Pages on Facebook, those using paid media reach an audience that is on average 5.3 times larger than the organic audience alone and 5.4 times greater than the total audience of top brand pages using no paid media with a similarly sized fan base.

Who turned the internet off?

We talked about the importance of data centres and in the last week we have seen something of the dangers of such centralisation. Outages on key services like Google, Facebook, DropBox and Tumblr reminded us how much we now depend on these data centres. And the effects of Sandy on New York digital properties like Huffington show how vulnerable we are.

Advertising & Mobile

The FT has looked at advertisers failing to follow the mobile trend. While mobile is capturing a larger share of time spent consuming media, up to 11.7% this year from 3.5% in 2009, its share of total ad spending is a minuscule 1.6%.

A quote in an article in the New York Times looks at how some brands are investing: "It's reminiscent of the Web in 1996/97. People weren't interested in ads and prices were low. But advertisers don't have a choice. They've got to go where audiences are," said Michael Moritz, an investor at Sequoia Capital who financed companies like Google and LinkedIn.

Content creators do have a choice though - they can charge for their content. Forrester report that the paid content market in Western Europe will grow by 65% to over US$10 billion by 2017, with mobile and tablets a major factor. They suggest that this will limit the opportunity for advertising - which we think is a little naïve - but it's clear that getting the blend of advertising and payments right is a key challenge.

Africa

One market that is really innovating is Africa, where we heard there are almost 750 million mobile connections. The Guardian has a good round up of how African entrepreneurs are solving problems.

Finally...

While the day to day of mobile and social is really exciting and the whole space of moving fast, it's worth remembering we are still just at the start of the 'decade of mobile'.

The improved speed of 4G is just the start. EE CEO, Olaf Swantee, talking about the merger of Orange and T-Mobile and the launch of 4G reminds us that: "Beyond 4G there will be other network technologies that we will then use; there will be new applications that we don't know about yet. There will be new things you can do, there will be new devices, there will be new things and that's what makes this market so exciting. It's not even changing every three years, it's changing every year."

Forrester point out that the next generation of mobile experiences will better utilise new technologies and points out that: "Some leaders, recognizing that mobile is not just another channel but an opportunity to deliver advanced contextual services, are investing dozens of millions of Euros in the next few years to plan ahead for next-generation mobile experiences."

Wearable devices, like Google Glasses will be with us next year.

Bradford's greatest living artist David Hockney uses mobile technology to create great art. "The relentless march of new technology offers hope. For example, the smallness of new video cameras makes it possible to pack several together, generating different lines of vision and creating a new kind of cubist camera! So now you can create a new television picture that goes way beyond the quaint and ridiculous old notion of '3D' TV.

Click here for your full Mobile Fix (complete with links to background articles).

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