Search On The Move

Internet searches have clearly broken free of the tethers to desktop or laptop, home or office.  Smartphone ubiquity and the increasing popularity of tablets for casual computing have caused all of us to have multiple primary devices to access information on the Web.  And the increasing sophistication of voice recognition on these devices only accelerates this trend. 

IgnitionOne’s research showed that in the first half of Q4, consumers’ mobile search activity skyrocketed, with paid search clicks jumping 355% compared to the same time in 2010.   This is a huge jump off a relatively small base, but more shocking is that by 2014 mobile Internet use is predicted to take over desktop Internet usage.  Already, one half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices.

The implications for marketers -- and search marketers specifically -- are huge.   It is not just where users are doing the search that has changed, but how users do that searching. Marketers need to be prepared for the rise in mobile adoption and the shift in behaviors that come with it.  And if they act quickly, search marketers can even be in a position to take advantage of this trend.



    Keywords. Be sure to include specific locations in your keywords and focus on actions to be taken at that location.  Also anticipate shorter search phrases, as mobile users tend to type shorter queries.  This will require search marketers to generate large numbers of localized two-, three-, and four-word keyword combinations. It is also worth noting that typos in search terms increase markedly on mobile devices.

      Campaign optimization. Mobile searchers are more likely to make a purchase in the next 24 hours -- but may not make the purchase on their phones.  Consider separate campaigns for desktop vs mobile vs tablet to ensure that potential customers see your ads across all their device options. And if mobile search is important for your campaign, it is important to consider your ad placement, as the smaller mobile screen increases the importance of higher placement.

      Site optimization. Mobile searchers have different interface and experience needs than desktop computer users.  Make sure you have a mobile-friendly version of your Web site.  When users click on your search ad from their phones, the flow to access the information they are seeking -- or buy the product they want to buy -- must be simple and intuitive.  It may be worth considering segmenting your mobile site to be more granular with simple, action-oriented pages.

          Tracking and analytics implications. Your potential customers are accessing your paid ads across multiple devices as they move down the purchase funnel.  This means your cross-channel attribution modeling just became much more difficult -- but also that much more important.  Technologies are being created to track users across devices, so keep a close eye on developments in this area, as this issue will become a big story in the next few quarters.

          The trend toward computing mobility will only accelerate as consumers continue to get savvier with mobile searches and as technology makes searching on the go easier. Smartphones and tablets will become the primary interface for individuals with only casual computing needs. So if you have not yet considered mobile search in your marketing plans, the time is now. 

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