Mobile Search


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Mobile search and marketing are growing globally, and while many people look to the western world for mobile innovations, the real leaders in mobile technology lie in the East and emerging markets. MediaVision, an SEO and SEM company based in South Africa and London, looks at the growth of the mobile market and its impact for internet marketers.

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Mobile Search

  1. 1. Mobile Search: the time is now
  2. 2. What’s the attraction? <ul><li>Mobile search has been the ‘next big thing’ for quite a while now, long enough for people to have determined why it is the ‘next big thing’ and to state so with confidence </li></ul><ul><li>For instance: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are something like 4 million cell phone users in South Africa alone, and something like 4 billion throughout the world, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cell phones are carried everywhere (even the loo) and are on almost all the time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This means that sms or mms advertising has a greater chance of being received and registered than email or online advertising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And studies show that people very rarely delete messages without first reading, so mobile messages have a greater chance of getting through to a wider audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile users are more likely to respond to mobile advertising in some way than to any other form of advertising, even if it’s just to ‘opt out’ of the advertising campaign </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile advertising campaigns stand a good chance of going viral, as people forward cool messages to their friends </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Everyone’s doing it <ul><li>Mobile phone usage outstrips PC usage in developing countries and emerging markets </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile internet penetration is gaining ground in developed countries </li></ul><ul><li>According to Nielsen, purveyor of magnificent stats, the US leads mobile internet penetration at 15.6%, the UK is second at 12.9% and Italy is third at 11.9% </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile internet use is fairly evenly distributed across age groups in the US, although the difference is more marked in emerging markets where younger generations (X and Y) lead the way </li></ul><ul><li>The difference between the sexes is also not as marked in the US, with only slightly more men than women accessing the net via their mobiles, but once again, the difference is greater in emerging markets, and even Germany, where 75% of users are male </li></ul><ul><li>Interestingly, mobile search is not more popular or more concentrated in high-income households, with roughly the same percentage of users among those who earn more than $100,000 per year and those who earn less then $50,000 per year </li></ul>
  4. 4. Doing what, exactly? <ul><li>Most mobile internet searches occur on the move, which means that searches are generally undertaken to meet a very specific , immediate need, such as nearby restaurants, cinemas, theatres, and street finding for when users know exactly where they are but not where their destination is </li></ul><ul><li>Entertainment is also popular, as people kill time catching up on sports, news, celebrity gossip, tunes and even the weather </li></ul><ul><li>But, as technology evolves and mobile internet access becomes ubiquitous, mobile users are branching out and starting to include social networking in their mobile activities </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile banking is undergoing rapid growth, and studies indicate that mobile bankers feel safer banking via their mobile phones than they do via their desktops or notebooks </li></ul><ul><li>And then there is email. At least 65% of mobile internet users access their email from their cell phones. Yahoo! leads the way with a third of all US mobile users accessing their Yahoo! mail accounts via their phones. </li></ul><ul><li>Once again Nielsen pipes up with reports that show that mobile traffic adds 13% to website traffic over and above that from desktops and notebooks. </li></ul>
  5. 5. But all is not love and roses <ul><li>Despite all the attractions of mobile search, and its obvious convenience, there are still some shortcomings, for instance: </li></ul><ul><li>Connection speeds are not all that they could be. Phone type and model, browser compatibility, website structure all affect connection speed and all need to be optimised to work together to improve customer satisfaction and keep people searching mobile. </li></ul><ul><li>Network quality. Nielsen (bless them) estimates that network quality is the most important factor affecting mobile user satisfaction. In fact, cost is the only factor more important than network quality when it comes to the cancellation of mobile contracts. </li></ul><ul><li>Privacy. Although privacy is not as great an issue with mobile users as it is with desktop or laptop users, it is still important enough for mobile marketers to focus their efforts on ensuring user privacy and making opt-in/opt-out choices glaringly obvious. </li></ul><ul><li>One poor mobile web experience makes mobile users reluctant to access either the problem site or the internet via their phone again </li></ul><ul><li>… .. But a study on mobile net usage and attitude revealed that 63% of respondents would rather give up their money than their mobile or smartphones in a mugging. No word yet on their cell phones or their lives. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Optimising for mobile <ul><li>Two of the biggest mistakes made by mobile marketers is to assume that mobile users search in the same way as desktop searchers, the other is that mobile users are looking for the same experience as desktop users. </li></ul><ul><li>Basically, mobile search needs to be much simpler than desktop searching because of phone limitations, but also because mobile searchers generally have less patience than desktop searchers, who don’t have much patience at the best of times either. </li></ul><ul><li>So, keywords are very very very important. </li></ul><ul><li>Desktop search results deliver 10 items per page, mobile search results deliver only five, and as with desktop searchers, mobile users rarely go beyond the second page – which means that to attract attention marketers have to be within the top 10 results. </li></ul><ul><li>Given the limitations of phone keypads (those without qwerty keyboards), mobile users are understandably reluctant to type in long phrases, so keywords need to short and succinct, with a three-word maximum. </li></ul><ul><li>Information architecture is very very important. Don’t design a complicated, image rich mobile site because you will frustrate the hell out of your users. Simplicity is key. Arrange your content in such a way that it downloads quickly and in an easy to read structure. Don’t pepper it with images that may or may not download and make your text look higgledy piggledy. </li></ul>
  7. 7. And … <ul><li>Use CSS to keep content and design separate to avoid said higgledy piggledy mess. </li></ul><ul><li>Navigation is very important. Mobile users don’t want to scroll through reams of text or trawl your whole site to find what they’re looking for. Prioritise information so that your most important or popular content is easily accessible. </li></ul><ul><li>Ross Dunn from Search Engine Guide recommends that no information be more than three pages from the home page, and that links are also prioritised. </li></ul><ul><li>External and internal linking are important . External links should be of a high quality and internal links should make sense. Link build. </li></ul><ul><li>Use XHTML. </li></ul><ul><li>Use W3C to check mobile standards and ensure mobile site compliancy. </li></ul><ul><li>Test. Testing is uber-important. You need to make sure that your mobile site works properly and that user experience is all that it should be. </li></ul><ul><li>And then, get your site noticed. Get it indexed and crawled. Punt it, make users aware of it. </li></ul>
  8. 8. South Africa more mobile than others? <ul><li>Internet access poses a problem for most of South Africa’s population, but mobile phone penetration is at roughly 83%, which means that SA’s mobile market is ripe for exploitation </li></ul><ul><li>SMS advertising has proven very successful, but MMS is fast catching up with response rates between 10% and 25%. </li></ul><ul><li>Voice communication is also rising in popularity as companies start to cash in on the opportunities presented by the mobile voice search market </li></ul><ul><li>Voice search faces an uncertain future, however, as many believe that once the novelty wears off people will realise that the technology has very fixed limits. Keyvan Mohajer, president and CEO of Melodis – a search and sound recognition company in Silicon Valley – believes that what voice search needs is a complete, scalable, fast and accurate voice-enabled solution before the technology actually takes off. So, the market is still pretty open. </li></ul><ul><li>In August, Opera Software, they of the Opera mini web browser for mobile phones, released a report on the state of the mobile web. In it: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>South Africa is placed 6 th in the world as far as mobile usage is concerned, ahead of more ‘advanced’ countries such as the USA and China </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>South African mobile searchers browse not only popular online destinations, but also a fair amount of long tail, which means that South Africans are using their mobile phones more like desktop substitutes than the rest of the world. It makes sense considering that the only internet access most of the population has is via their cell phones. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> is first on the top 10 list, followed by wikipedia. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. But wait, there’s more <ul><ul><li>Social Networking is big in SA. Mxit has around 5.79 million subscribers and facebook is the most popular site for mobile searchers (Mxit is placed 6 th on the list of top 10 mobile search destinations). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>According to Vodacom, mobile advertising in SA will grow to about R1.5 billion (BMI-TechKnowledge put that figure closer to R2.15 billion) by 2011 and mobile social networks will play a large role in that growth </li></ul><ul><li>Mxit says, “We have the ability to position advertising in your consumers’ pockets. We can help you to establish your presence in future mobile technology now.” </li></ul><ul><li>While Vodacom’s Romeo Kumalo says, “ Mobile social networks have the potential to attract advertising in the same way that internet-based social networks are already attracting significant amounts of advertising.” </li></ul><ul><li>But Eddie Groenwald, CEO of Multimedia Solutions, cautions that mobile social networks are only useful for brand building and certain types of sales, and not for all kinds of advertising </li></ul><ul><li>Nevertheless, as an emerging market, South Africa’s mobile advertising and mobile search markets are on a steady incline </li></ul>
  10. 10. What about the UK? <ul><li>According to an O2 and Vanson Bourne survey, UK brands will increase their mobile marketing budgets by 150% by 2013, and will not be slowed down by the current economic downturn </li></ul><ul><li>One of the reasons for the growth is the fact that mobile marketing is considered ideal for close targeting, especially among the retail and financial industries </li></ul><ul><li>One in ten UK directors believe that mobile marketing has saved their businesses at least £1 million compared to other marketing initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>The UK mobile market is one of the largest in the world and is even bigger than the US with a penetration rate of 9.5%. The US penetration rate is at 9.2%. </li></ul><ul><li>And according to Nielsen (Yay), the UK mobile internet is growing 8 times more rapidly than the PC internet, and the users are also younger </li></ul><ul><li>The UK currently has more than 7 million mobile internet users (20% of the entire online population), compared to 40 million in the US (22%) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Nielsen Stats <ul><li>Compare UK audience size and growth for mobile and online (3 percent online vs. 25 percent in mobile): </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Nielsen (11/08) </li></ul>
  12. 12. More fun stats <ul><li>What’s also interesting is that Nielsen said that some of the popular UK sites it’s tracking actually have greater reach in mobile than online (percentages in the chart represent audience reach): </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Nielsen (11/08) </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Omnipotent iPhone <ul><li>Despite the marketing hype, the iPhone is not the most widely used smartphone in the mobile market. In the US it’s the Motorola RAZR and internationally it’s Nokia. The iPhone is a rather bleak second (5% of the US mobile market). </li></ul><ul><li>Aggressive campaigning and continued hype have led to an increased demand for Apple iPhones, so we can expect it to close the gap between it and the RAZR in the US and Nokia internationally </li></ul><ul><li>And while the iPhone is generally believed to be priced out of reach of the average consumer, a comScore survey shows that it is actually more popular among low-income earners (at least in the US) </li></ul><ul><li>Sales in the $25,000 - $49,999 annual income bracket grew by 48% compared to a 16% growth among the $100,000 and above annual income earners </li></ul><ul><li>The reason for this is that many iPhone owners use the device instead of buying a number of different devices, which actually makes more economic sense </li></ul><ul><li>iPhone users buck the mobile trend when it comes to internet searching, as they seem to use their phones in a similar manner to the way in which they use their desktops </li></ul><ul><li>iPhone users are also 5x more likely to access the internet than other mobile phone users </li></ul>
  14. 14. comScore stats <ul><li>One quarter of iPhone owners searching on a daily basis: </li></ul><ul><li>Source: comScore (8/08) </li></ul>
  15. 15. By search engine
  16. 16. The largest and most successful mobile search market is …. <ul><li>Japan </li></ul><ul><li>90% of the Japanese population own at least one mobile phone, that is 89.1 million Japanese </li></ul><ul><li>40% use their phones to access the net (Japanese online overview) </li></ul><ul><li>The latest fad to hit Western mobile markets is “mobile wallets” where mobile phones are used to pay for certain services or products, such as movie tickets and transport; the Japanese they have been using mobile wallets for years </li></ul><ul><li>And while the Western world swoons at the feet of the iPhone, the Japanese are very blasé about it. Their mobile manufacturers churn out 100s of new models virtually every month. Forget bluetooth, many of their phones already have blu-ray capabilities. </li></ul><ul><li>And now, in an effort to retain its place as the top Japanese mobile phone carrier in a very saturated market, NTT DoCoMo Inc. has promised to improve video and custom services. This is part of its plan to invest in services and technology rather than winning new subscribers. </li></ul><ul><li>The improved videos will be suited to users’ tastes, with regular “new releases” of entertainment videos, and subscribers won’t even have to pay for the extra service, as accelerated network speeds, new technology and an the fee structure enable the company to distribute high-volume movie contents at minimum expense </li></ul>
  17. 17. Mobile is definitely popular <ul><li>Our analytics show that blog traffic spikes every time mobile news is posted: </li></ul>POPULAR
  18. 18. How do we leverage it? <ul><li>Well, we read all that we can about it, we research the hell out of it and we study it ourselves if studies aren’t available </li></ul><ul><li>And then, we write about it. We become the reliable source of mobile information that everyone is looking for. </li></ul><ul><li>Africa and South Africa in particular, is desperately short of mobile data and stats. It’s a gap that we can fill. We already have some degree of mobile credibility, all we have to do is grow it. </li></ul><ul><li>… Simple really. </li></ul>
  19. 19. There’s always one <ul><li>Mobile is the future, mobile is the next big thing, mobile is here, mobile is now, mobile, mobile, mobile. Everyone is talking about it, people are jumping on the mobile bandwagon all over the show and everywhere mobile hope blossoms and people strew petals in the path in front of it to demonstrate their love and dedication and to hope that mobile spreads a little goodness their way. </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone? </li></ul><ul><li>Well, everyone except Helen Keegan, who shocked everyone at The Future of Mobile conference in Kensington on the 17 th Nov. </li></ul><ul><li>Keegan doesn’t think that mobile has a future, and she gives 6 semi-compelling reasons why </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The focus is on technology and not on people. Instead of blinding people with super-cool features, functions and applications mobile techies need to realise that the average person doesn’t really care about how their phones work, they just care that they do. Perhaps they all need to take a page out of DoCoMo’s book and focus on improving functionality rather than adding complex features </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile tariffs aren’t geared towards the average mobile user, who isn’t prepared to commit to a lengthy contract for services that may or may not work. Most people in the UK and emerging markets don’t buy mobile contracts but operate their phones on a prepaid basis, which currently makes accessing the mobile net very expensive and impractical. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Applications and services are primarily geared towards “Promobs” or professional/super mobile users and not “Normobs” who tend to use their phones for talking, texting and perhaps social networking and emailing. Mobile needs to address their needs and not the needs of the uber-professional. </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Keegan continued <ul><ul><li>Western-centric mobile attitude. Many studies, surveys and stats point to the growing power of emerging mobile markets – BRIC and Africa – and this is where Keegan believes mobile innovation will come from. Emerging markets will figure out how to leverage mobile technology to solve their very real every day problems – and overcome the whole technology vs. people problem. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The fact that mobile phones are primarily used for communication and that means old fashioned conversation, semi-old fashioned texting and emailing and new fangled social networking. Anything that improves our ability to communicate will be gold, anything that detracts from it will be left by the way side. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And then there is the culture gap between mobile techies and traditional web techies, which Keegan reckons hampers compatibility. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why are these reasons only semi-compelling? </li></ul><ul><li>Because they’re not new. These are problems that traditional search and internet technology had to face and still faces today. They haven’t been satisfactorily resolved but the industry grows regardless. And the same will happen with mobile. </li></ul><ul><li>These are teething problems, they will be overcome, especially if, as Keegan believes, emerging markets are going to take the proverbial bull by its proverbial horns and deliver real-world solutions to real-world problems. </li></ul><ul><li>How is that not a guaranteed future? Western mobile may dog paddle along while Japan and Africa freestyle past, but progress will still be made and markets will still grow. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Mobile ain’t goin’ nowhere, so we’d best stop debating its value and start cashing in on it