In a series of features, we’ll be looking at the search industry’s responses to the questions we posed, to determine the challenges and trends facing search marketing in 2012. Today we are looking at the role of mobile within search. With 67% of e-commerce in India happening on mobile devices, what role does mobile play in the growth and future of search in the UK?
Neil Jackson, head of natural search, I Spy Marketing
This is going to have a big impact as people start to engage a lot more via their mobile and we become more e-commerce active via our mobile devices. Ensuring compatibility at platform, site and user level is going to be key, as is understanding the way search engines treat mobile search in terms of display and actions such as click to call.
Ed Stevenson, managing director, Global Agencies & International, Marin Software
We saw UK mobile search clicks increase 180 per cent during 2011 to account for 15.1 per cent of all search clicks, and we predict they will account for more than 25 per cent of paid search clicks by the end of 2012. Whilst mobile search budgets are lagging behind clicks - accounting for 9.1 per cent of search budgets at the end of 2011 - they grew 191 per cent during 2011 and will continue to grow through 2012. With mobile budgets lagging behind click share, mobile CPCs are currently lower than those on desktops, but we expect to see these CPCs increase to 25 per cent as more advertisers commit budget to mobile search, reducing the gap between mobile click shares and mobile budgets. If an advertiser or agency wants to take advantage of mobile search and the current favourable advertising conditions it offers, we’d recommend they start now. However, the mobile experience needs to be optimised for their consumers.
Gavin Boyd, SEO manager, Equator
We’ve heard it all before, but this year really is the year for mobile. It was recently reported that, in the UK in March, mobile accounted for 9.1 per cent of all e-commerce sales. With figures like this, there is no doubt that mobile will play a huge role in the future of search, however, I think the question is how do search marketers take effective advantage of this?
For example, whilst we already knew that Google serves a different set of search results to mobile phones than to a desktop, we recently learned that the results set may be different again depend on the mobile phone you are using – effectively giving more importance to the content that works best on your phone. Whilst traditional SEO methods are still important, with the increasing range of smart phones available, the future of mobile search will require more integration between SEO and development to ensure a fully optimised mobile site.
Regardless to what extent search marketers choose to develop their mobile strategies, with reports suggesting that one in 20 sales are lost because online businesses haven’t launched mobile optimised websites, those that choose to do nothing will be very much left behind.
Andrew Girdwood, media innovations director, LBi bigmouthmedia
In my tenure as a judge for the Mobile Marketing Association I have seen some remarkable mobile campaigns. Countries like India have led the way in terms of correctly priced, effective and innovative mobile developments.
Mobile is significant already in the UK. Some channels and some search types already prefer mobile to desktop search. According to Google, 95 per cent of smartphone users have searched for local information, 70 per cent of mobile users have compared prices on their phone and 65% have checked out product reviews. Google estimates that 50 per cent of mobile searches lead to a purchase.
It is important that brands and agencies stop treating “mobile” as a technology play. Mobile is a digital medium first and foremost, sitting between desktop and connected TV. The technical aspects of mobile are certainly important but before brands start to build apps, or mobile sites, or native mobile apps or single domain adaptive sites, etc., the brand needs to recognise their mobile strategy first.
Mobile will help boost the digital economy in the UK in 2012. Shoppers will buy more online because of their mobile phones. Customers will be better connected to savvy brands because of their smartphones.
This medium will help companies like Amazon, Rakuten, Microsoft, Google, Apple and perhaps even Facebook provide an end to end ecosystem for retail and content through to its delivery to customers. For example, with the Kindle, Amazon can sell books and virtual entertainment products (like movies) from its marketplace, directly to customers, and deliver that content in channel they control.
Bryan Adams, managing director, Ph.Creative
Mobile browsing is here to stay and it’s still got some way to grow too. Recent figures show that despite less than a third of UK consumers having made a purchase on a mobile, 88 per cent of consumers make a purchase within 24 hours of making an initial product search on a mobile device, clearly demonstrating the importance of utilising mobile search.
The relatively low number of people currently making purchases through mobile devices would suggest that there’s plenty of growth in the marketplace, especially when you consider that smartphone and tablet sales are out stripping PC sales year-on-year.
We hear horror stories of ‘experts’ proclaiming that mobile SEO is a myth and as long as your website ranks in Google, it will enjoy the same visibility on a mobile device – not so! Make sure you seek proper advice and do not ignore mobile whatever you do...it’s only going to get more and more important to our businesses as the weeks and months pass by.
James Lowery, head of SEO, Latitude
We live in a convenience culture; people are connected more often than not. There’s still plenty of space for evolution in the mobile space, and a lot of this comes down to maturing behaviour. We use devices interchangeably at home, and individually outside the home. I think there’s also a blurring of what constitutes a mobile device. Tablets are as capable as a desktop machine in terms of providing real estate for users to engage with a website, but there are still issues with connectivity – you need to offer a simpler, more constrained interface for mobile devices due to bandwidth considerations, but you also need to recognise that users will be turned off by something too basic.
Tina Judic, managing director, Found
There does appear to be a lot more hype around this area than there really needs to be. Mobile plays an extensive role already in the UK search market, with brands investing heavily into improving performance of web properties in this area. Within paid search, there are equally lots of features in Google Adwords to target different devices and to provide click-to-call functionality already. Design plays an important part here too and, by using responsive design techniques, a site can be built to handle multiple resolutions with ease.
As soon as Mobile NFT kicks off and browser tracking can be integrated between all devices, local search will potentially explode, as ROIs will be truly measurable.
So, as long as your mobile site is optimised, then you’re half way there. Of course, it’s important to spend more and more time on your mobile campaigns in isolation, and to take advantage of the new technologies and innovations coming to the fore but, in order to win, you must also know when to manage and assess your mobile campaigns in conjunction with your desktop deliverables and results.
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Mobile image via Shutterstock