Most marketers I interview about mobile search remain a bit skeptical about the platform for now. So much about mobile search remains unclear it is hard for anyone to stake out territory, let alone a strategy.By any measure, we are still a long way from mobile searching being commonplace enough to become even a blip on marketers' radar. Nevertheless, the early evidence suggests that when people go mobile they bring their online brand loyalties with them.
When I look back upon a decade and a half of parenting, I realize how much children thoroughly trash your tastes in just about everything. When it comes to media, it is hard to say at this point what has rotted my taste more -- Barney the Purple Dinosaur, Jimmy Neutron or the pre-teen TV and film oeuvre of the detestably perky Amanda ("She's the Man") Bynes. I say this by way of warning, apology or excuse for my declaration that I actually appreciate "Prom Queen," the video series from Michael Eisner's new Vuguru group.
That old and somewhat erroneous Web mantra that all content wants to be free is about to get a second life on mobile. This is going to be a long slow death march, to be sure, but I think the ad model on phones will not only be viable but dominant in several years.
When I was researching the rise of digital distribution in music several years ago, a radio researcher mentioned to me that radio stations had to expand their playlists radically to accommodate a much broader range of listener requests. Instead of maintaining a few thousand tracks to anticipate a niche audience's requests, many stations now needed three or more times that number. People were discovering and embracing a wider range of music. This same expansion of tastes may be occurring in video as well, and my AppleTV screen could be the way it enters my living room.
I am now a week or so into my AppleTV experience, and it is helping me tune into the real cumulative effect of portability media on the overall media landscape. AppleTV is really the iPod in reverse. Each evening I now have on my TV all of the content I also have on my iPod when I am away from my desk, and on iTunes when I am tethered to my desk.
The mobile phone's potential as a portable powerhouse of user-generated content remains more theoretical than real. As every mobile blogging vendor has pitched me for two years, the phone is the "perfect computing device." It not only connects to the Web, but it has a built-in voice recorder, a Web cam and text entry. Most PCs boast only a few of these capabilities. Yes, indeed, as a blog entry tool, or as any kind of content posting device, the cell phone is the ideal device. End of pitch. Nice try, I think to myself.
According to many of the mobile ad networks, click-through rates of 3% and higher are common in these early days. On a phone, where everyone knows that the next click could bring a tortuous lag, it is surprising so many people are curious enough to drill into many of these relatively bland and uninformative banners. Increasingly, however, they will find some very interesting landing pages. A few advertisers clearly have stepped up their game, especially in the auto and entertainment category.
I am a total podcast slut. From the time I bought my video iPod I quickly veered away from the enticing $1.99 TV episodes and embraced the video podcasts that were dripping onto the iTunes podcast library. When vodcasting comes to my TV, the networks and cable can automatically deduct an hour from my nightly mind share. And now that day has arrived. Imagine my glee last week when I fired up the Apple TV box and got all of these vodcasts, plus my iTunes library of TV episodes and feature films piped directly to my HDTV.