Google's Tim Reis Reveals 'Mobile Playbook'

Tim-Reis-BTim Reis, head of mobile and social solutions for Google, broke out the mobile playbook for marketers Monday in a keynote at MediaPost’s OMMA Mobile event. The mobile strategy guide, which Google unveiled last month online, revolves around five questions that companies should ask themselves in approaching the medium:

*How does mobile change the value proposition?

*How does mobile impact digital destinations?

*Is the organization adapting to mobile?

*How should your marketing adapt to mobile?

*How can you connect with your tablet audience?

On the first question, Reis explained that marketers have to define their value proposition by figuring out what customers want to do with their business in mobile and delivering those services. As an example, he highlighted a Hotels.com TV spot showing a man using the site to book a room while in the act of skydiving. It vividly illustrates Hotel.com’s core proposition: the ability to book rooms quickly and easily.

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Reis also pointed to various factoids that underscore how mobile is well-suited to local marketing efforts. For instance, 95% of smartphone users have searched for local info and 90% of those people have acted on the search results they got. Google’s own data shows that about a third of all searches have local intent.

Smartphones have also ushered in the era of “price transparency,’ where 45% are using their devices in-store to search for product information; about the same proportion compare prices. Google estimates that almost four in 10 shoppers who leave without making a purchase are influenced by their smartphone usage.

All the information at a mobile shopper’s fingertips makes it crucial for retailers to respond by providing strong in-store service and offering unique products or bundles of products that make apples-to-apples price comparisons difficult. Retailers should also embrace mobile themselves by offering things like free Wi-Fi, equipping sales staff with mobile devices, and using QR codes to provide product information.

When it comes to the mobile destination, the bottom line is creating a mobile-optimized site. Although almost 60% of mobile users say they will not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, the majority of sites still don’t have a mobile-tailored presence. “Do not neglect your mobile Web site,” said Reis -- pointing out that while apps may be sexy, their shelf life can be short.

To create a sense of accountability for mobile within an organization, Google says that companies should appoint a “mobile champion” to create a mobile task force with people from different departments. More broadly, companies should look at how customers use mobile through focus groups and surveys, set aside budget, talk to agency partners and brainstorm internally.

In adapting marketing to mobile, Reis keyed on mobile search. Google has seen mobile searches grow fivefold in the last two years, with 30% of all restaurant searches and 25% of movie searches now conducted on mobile devices. To help develop a mobile search strategy, Reis suggested that executives take five minutes to search for your brand in mobile as a consumer would. Then follow up with your agency about the results.

He also emphasized the ad opportunity in mobile emerging from growing amount of usage in popular apps and sites. For instance, mobile users collectively spent the equivalent of 570 years daily playing “Angry Birds” and watched 600 million videos on YouTube. At the same time, only 1% of ad budgets are going to mobile. (The IAB estimated $1.6 billion, or about 5% of the $31 billion in 2011 U.S. Internet ad spending, went to mobile.)

Reis also advised marketers to treat tablets -- which he called “the lovechild of the laptop computer and the phone” -- as a separate market within mobile. He noted that in two years, more than 200 million tablets will be sold globally, making it a sizeable audience in its own right. In addition, nearly three-quarters of tablet owners are using them to buy things on a weekly basis.

With that in mind, brands should create campaigns and content geared specifically to tablets. Kraft, for instance, designed its Fork & Spoon app for the iPad, providing more in-depth content and games compared to its popular iFood Assistant app for smartphones. Since tablets are mostly used at home, campaigns can feature stronger calls to action, like “Shop now from your tablet.”

Because of the larger screen size, tablets also lend themselves well to rich media advertising and video. Such efforts can also dovetail with so-called two-screen viewing in the living room as people access content on tablets that is related to what they are watching on TV. 

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