Commentary

Mobile Search Behavior To Give Campaigns Traction

SmartphonesAn increase in consumer spending via mobile phones through emerging technologies such as near field communication (NFC), a technology Google and others continue to invest in, will push advertisers to spend more than $1 billion on mobile marketing campaigns in the U.S. this year, according to a study released by Forrester Research.

With the confirmed Facebook acquisition on Tuesday of Rel8tion, a Seattle-based startup working to develop a local mobile advertising service, I'm sure marketers wonder if that billion dollar number will jump higher.

Forrester's 2008 forecast put media spend for mobile display ads and search at $561 million in 2010, and then last year the research firm increased that prediction to $815.9 million. Analysts at the research firm might not have known at the time they wrote the report that Apple has begun to work with NFC, adding one more tech and media powerhouse to the mix of companies that will likely integrate the technology into their mobile phones and devices.

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While I had originally thought Apple would develop its own contactless technology for the iPad and the iPhone, "no," says Richard Doherty, research director at consulting firm Envisioneering Group, a technology assessment and market consultancy. He's convinced Apple will use NFC. The conclusion made after many of Envisioneering's employees spent hours in "boring standards meeting" to keep informed.

Forrester believes NFC will prompt consumers to interact with their physical environment more often. "The market will finally move away from the trial stage in regions where NFC infrastructure is in place," according to the report. "Barriers such as consumer demand, market education, and business model issues need to be removed for the market to really take off. Other technologies such as QR codes and mobile augmented reality (AR) apps will also prompt consumers to hold up their smartphones to interact with the world around them."

Finally, marketers will find quantifiable return on investments (ROIs), as more realize mobile marketing can generate leads, drive foot traffic into stores, and sell products and services. Smartphone adoption is growing and with it activities associated with PCs, such as researching products, booking hotels, trading stocks, finding nearby restaurants, or browsing the Internet, according to the report.

Mobile marketing also will give marketers better targeting techniques through location and search behavior. The report suggests the technology squashes complaints that marketers can't reach consumers through a variety of mobile mediums.

Forrester believes search engines like Google will still play a key role for consumers as a source of information. I agree that with consumers doing less browsing on mobile phones than they do on their PCs, searchers will turn to vertical apps. The only problem is will they find those vertical apps in the mounds of those available in app stores?

Mobile marketing dollars will near $2.8 billion, with mobile search and display each representing 6% of interactive marketing spend in 2015 as marketers get their footing in the rapidly growing mobile market, according to the Forrester report. It goes on to suggest that with 36% of total U.S. consumers expected to use the mobile Internet by 2015, mobile search and display advertising spend will increase despite considerable challenges.

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