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Mobile is not just another search channel

Wednesday October 5 2011

Retail digital media expert Farhad Koodoruth examines the challenges and issues associated with mobile search, and discusses how retailers need to approach this form of marketing and keep it separate from traditional search

Retail digital media expert Farhad Koodoruth examines the challenges and issues associated with mobile search, and discusses how retailers need to approach this form of marketing and keep it separate from traditional search

 

It is estimated that by mid 2012 smartphones will account for more than half of the UK’s mobile users, according to market researcher Econsultancy.

 

Farhad Koodoruth, managing director of Blowfish Digital, said the potential for retailers is already starting to show as users search for places, goods and services as they go about their daily business. The digital media agency he manages works with a number of retailers, including Laura Ashley, TM Lewin and Agent Provocateur.

 

“Brands are recognising this and many are implementing mobile as part of their digital strategy,” he said. “However, I don’t think they are giving it the degree of attention it deserves. Make no mistake, mobile search is growing.”

 

Understanding new channel demands

 

He said that brands need to build separate strategies. “Not just between their traditional desktop paid search, but also specific to the mobile platform. iPad users search in a different way to smartphone users, both in terms of navigation and transacting, with large differences in behaviour internationally. So, they need to look at the data and run separate, mobile specific campaigns to check how landing pages, creative and PPC [pay-per-click campaigns] are performing.

 

“Adwords can split targeting between tablets and mobiles and a different approach is needed for both,” he continued. “Tablets behave more like PCs, where mobiles behave very differently and show differences by operating system. All mobile devices are not the same and, likewise, user patterns are different.”

 

Koodoruth said Adwords enables users to split by operating system. “So, brands need to run tests to see whether Apple converts better than Android,” he explained. “Apple users are often a different demographic to Android and their purchasing behaviour is again very different.”

 

Keeping up with expectations

 

It stands to reason that brands want users to have the same experience when interacting with sites, be it through a mobile device or a desktop. But Koodoruth said many are opting for a mobile specific website: “And there are some great ones out there, (M&S, ebay, Amazon, Groupon, Debenhams to name a few). This means fewer images and more information. All of this is fine, but only if they can be found easily. Remember, these are mobile devices and by their very nature users want fast results.”

 

He added: “As Google shows few paid search ads in mobile search results, mobile searches are limited. This, I’m sure will change, but in the meantime it should not be ignored. Brands need to ensure that they appear in top positions on mobile devices just as they’ve worked hard and spent lots of their hard earned budget ensuring top position on desk tops.”

 

Mobile search is still in its infancy by comparison to traditional search. However, Koodoruth pointed out that it doesn’t seem that long ago when search marketing was something that few people understood, let alone saw the potential it offered.

 

“Marketers should take this platform seriously, check data, test and test again,” he concluded. “Mobile search should be an important part of your overall strategy, get it right now and you’ll reap the rewards this platform has to offer.”