Mobile phones have come a long way since the original, bulky, featureless models of the eighties. Now, we can do almost anything on our phones and consumers rarely put them down. Cellular networks have noticed over the years and responded by beefing up their data networks to support all the Facebooking, Tweeting, sharing, and emailing today's smartphone is capable of. Marketers have taken notice as well. The smart ones are understanding the need to address not only the mobile experience, but the necessity to find ways to reach the mobile consumer.
Mobile advertising has quickly evolved from simplified SMS campaigns, to video, interactive, and experiential campaigns that involve cutting-edge platforms like Foursquare. In today's marketing environment, campaign managers must consider all formats when crafting a mobile campaign. They must consider the impact of mobile search; another rising opportunity for marketers. Though it is still being figured out, mobile search is poised for tremendous growth in 2013 as advertisers shift additional budgets and consumers use it more often. The always-on behavior of the typical smartphone user means fewer searches for local bars, restaurants, and directions will take place on a laptop or desktop.
The greatest opportunity for growth in the mobile space involves the intersection of traditional mediums and mobile. Specifically, Shazam. This year's Super Bowl was a turning point for advertisers and their use of mobile formats. What we saw was a limited use of the technologies such as Shazam and QR codes. The limited number of advertisers that took the leap and leveraged these tactics benefited tremendously. Bud Light successfully used Shazam to promote free music downloads. Go Daddy used QR codes in its Super Bowl ad to drive a surge of traffic to its website. Used in conjunction with a special promotion, the company had a boost in short-term sales.
The Super Bowl marks a shift in the mobile space and brings to light an incredible opportunity to drive users from a traditional medium to a digital/mobile one. The increase in engagement leads directly to dollars and cents. Shazam won the war because it aligns perfectly with the platform it's juxtaposed to. QR codes weren't the best option because A) it is new, misunderstood and B) there is no single QR reader app. Shazam has only one app. Mobile users have been using it to "tag" music for years. It is only natural to leverage this behavior in the advertising world and a larger number of brands have adopted the practice.
Mobile search is an additional growth area that needs to be watched closely. Companies paying attention to the underlying data should notice that mobile visitors coming to their sites are growing at an increasing pace. As consumers use their mobile devices for more activities such as searching for a local restaurant, bar or dry cleaner, advertisers need to prepare.
Companies must ensure that their sites are mobile friendly, and also built specifically for the mobile experience. Advertising on mobile search platforms and leveraging local-centric companies such as Yelp.com or Local.com will become the normal action as we move forward in 2013.
Currently, most companies are not embracing mobile search ads the way they do normal search ads. It is a unique experience that requires customization of the ad copy and a well-thought out keyword strategy. Mobile search traffic may be on the rise, but the competition has not followed suit and that leaves a huge opportunity.
One of the greatest opportunities that mobile search provides advertisers is a feature called click-to-call. The ad includes the phone number so all the searcher has to do is click and be connected. It is an incredible opportunity for advertisers as this simplifies the process, driving contact and leads to them faster. Forbes gave an example of how Starwood Hotels increased its mobile bookings 20% in one month after instituting click-to-call ads. Mobile search may be locally focused, but used correctly it has big brand potential.
In 2013, you can expect to see an even wider adoption of Shazam to complement the clever mobile campaigns already developed. You can expect that every brand will seriously consider the impact of mobile as it develops its brand presence and reaches out to customers. You can expect to see increased use of mobile apps to support the "brand experience" and mobile search to capture that local traffic.
As consumer behavior continues to shift from the web, mobile will no longer be an afterthought but the initial one. Brands will have to enhance the mobile experience whether it is about content, m-commerce, or interactivity. This will be a huge year for mobile as smartphone sales continue to skyrocket and advertisers continue to find more ways to connect with their audience. The growth potential is tremendous.
Is your company prepared to take advantage?
("Modern Mobile" image courtesy of Shutterstock.)