Mobile Search Marketing through Google Adwords is still a relatively unexplored area. Google has been making a real push in recent times, promoting the growth of mobile phone use in search and the amount that people are using mobile now to access the internet.
Admittedly Google is completely correct, mobile is a massive growth section in the market, but that doesn’t mean that its a market that everyone should be advertising and targeting users with mobile search marketing.
Mobile search marketing is an area that I’ve tried out with a number of clients after having had Google talk up the value of mobile search marketing to them. Unfortunately from my experience with running these campaigns the value delivered wasn’t what was promised.
So why is this?
Mobile usage is defiantly growing but there a number of limiting factors which determine the use of mobile devices for search. Mobile search is generally spur of the moment and while a user is mobile, the average user will still use a computer over a mobile to search for something because quite simply it’s still faster and easier to use a computer that is just there over using a mobile. Mobiles are coming a long was in this respect to improve the user experience, with their web browsers becoming faster and more complex, and the greatest example of this is when smart phones started moving towards full web browsers, allowing a users to open a full web page on their mobile, but they are still slower to load a page then a computers web browser and are on smaller screens, which brings me to my next point.
Screen Real Estate
Mobile devices by their very definition need to be smaller and more portable than their computer counterparts, what this means is that while they are becoming small mobile computers in their own rights they still suffer from an issue of limited screen sizes. Most smart phones have screens between 3 – 4.5 inches, that not a lot of space to display something that is usually displayed on something that is generally 5 times larger, this makes reading and navigating pages a real pain and limits the usability of these devices on the internet. While there are websites optimised to display on mobile devices the problem isn’t so much the sites as much as the fact that it is tiring and difficult to read from small screens for extended periods of time. While the advent of tablet devices is changing the issue of screen sizes, the fact still remains that navigating a webpage through a tablet is still often slower and more difficult to do than through a computer, and the lack of legacy inputs such as a full size keyboard also detract from the ability to easily interact with these pages.
Because of the issue with it being tiring and difficult to use mobile for any extended sessions online, this also affects how people use their mobile online. People on mobile devices are generally looking for a very specific answer, something that is quick and simple to answer through a quick Google search. People aren’t on their mobile devices searching for information about products in detail i.e. what model car should I be buying or researching potential university courses, instead they have more specific queries such as what time the local pizza store closes at and what classroom is my next class scheduled in.
What this means is that users aren’t looking for masses of information and wont often interact with a page and spend as much time on them as a normal user would. So advertising for to users in areas that would require extensive time looking through the mobile device isn’t a value adding prospect.
Knowing all this though there are definitely areas where advertising specifically to a mobile device would be a value adding proposition. Take for example your local pizza store providing a mobile ad that has their phone number in the ad. All it would take is for you to click on the phone number link and you’re calling them, simple but something that a user might otherwise have to spend a great deal of time getting – if they get that far.
Mobile search marketing is all about trying to give a quick and easy solution, fulfilling that final step in the decision making cycle that allows you to sell your product or service. This is different from computer based queries where more research type queries may be used in addition fulfilment. Search marketers need to be aware of this when they advertise specifically to mobile devices or risk wasted or inefficient ad spend.