Mobile search advertising is an opportunity marketers can no longer afford to neglect. With an increasing number of mobile users choosing data plans and smartphones, recent statistics suggest that the next couple of years will see mobile search advertising come into its own. Kim has provided ample evidence of this (page 34) in her article.
An eMarketer study predicts that paid search within the mobile platform will exceed display ad spending in 2008. Although message advertising will remain overwhelmingly dominant, mobile search advertising spend in the US is expected to reach $107 million in 2008 (triple the estimated 2007 figure) and grow to almost $1.5 billion by 2012. Worldwide figures estimate a growth from $83 million in 2007, to $244 million in 2008, and $3.7 billion in 2012. (Source: eMarketer, March 2008, “Mobile Advertising: After the Growing Pains”)
You may already have successful traditional paid search campaigns with programs such as Google AdWords, but the process of running and managing a mobile search marketing strategy is not nearly the same. There are similarities, and your experiences marketing for the desktop will serve you well, but mobile search is an entirely different paradigm. The good news? The existence of different players in mobile can help you target advertising even more closely.
Among the most prominent players are those offering white-label mobile search, mostly via ad networks. They include companies such as Medio, JumpTap, AdMob, and Motricity, which offer white-label brands for mobile operator portals such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Alltel, and T-Mobile USA. For example, JumpTap just landed U.S. Cellular, the sixth largest carrier in the US, as its 17th carrier partner at the end of May 2008.
White-label companies provide search-driven advertising for keywords with banner or text creatives, which means that advertisers can effectively target the user groups of different mobile operators. Running a campaign within an operator portal with a white-label search provider can result in an extremely positive response, since some experts believe this is where the majority of searches still take place.
Alternatively, leading brands Google and Yahoo! offer mobile advertising via Google Mobile and Yahoo! oneSearch. These can be successful for both on- and off-portal strategies, as in many cases the mobile operator has given away control of off-portal search to one of these branded players.
Given this, businesses can use a two-tiered strategy for mobile search engine marketing – targeting on-portal or off-portal queries. But there is also another factor that is a potential game-changer – local search. Some mobile search engines such as m-spatial or the 411 properties offer similar ad placements based on location, where the queries or results from the search will be biased first to the nearest provider.
Local search has been trying to find its feet in mobile for several years – up until recently, it has never really succeeded. Mobile search companies are now finding more effective ways of promoting geo-targeting via the use of content strategies such as Google Maps. This adds a new side to mobile search marketing, as keywords can be bid for on content and not only from within the mobile search paradigm.
Setting up a Mobile Search Advertising Campaign
Most mobile ad campaigns are automated and tend to follow a very similar format. Advertisers need to choose a creative, pick the marketing technique and call to action, decide on landing page/website details, and choose keywords while considering pricing options. It sounds relatively straightforward, but there are critical aspects to each step.
1. Choosing a Creative
The creative (banner advert) or text needs to be very concise. There is very little display space on a mobile device. For example, the size of a text advert is usually limited to 20-40 characters, which is at most 10-20 words. Advertisers not only need to be very precise – they must also be very creative. What works for the desktop will not work on mobile – simply mirroring a campaign to mobile is not the way to success. For example, instead of pushing a new or little-known brand in a mobile campaign, it may be better to push a teaser campaign with text such as “drink me” or “hot car” to get users to click.
2. Choosing a Marketing Technique and Call to Action
Several options for marketing exist within mobile search. For example, white-label companies may offer marketing via classic direct response campaigns, content sales, WAP site traffic generation, and branding. The marketing technique chosen results in the relevant call to action – which would be click to call or collect email, download content, visit WAP site, or brand awareness.
Click to call or collect email are obvious calls to action, as are downloading content or visiting a WAP site. Brand awareness can be approached via a mobile landing page or recommendation page, and may also include creative rather than text to accompany the actual advert.
Here’s a chart of marketing techniques and their accompanying calls to action:
|Marketing Technique||Call to Action|
|Classic Direct Response||Click to Call, Collect Email, Collect Telephone Number|
|Content Sales||Download Content Now|
|WAP Site Traffic Generation||Visit WAP Site|
Therefore, despite limitations on ad size and appearance, a number of different opportunities for advertisers already exist on mobile to target keywords or text ads to different actionable results. Dynamic text insertion can tailor an ad to the user’s specific handset type (e.g., “ringtones for the RAZR”) and handset capabilities can be taken into account (e.g., ads with video downloads only presented to those with handsets capable of displaying them).
3. Landing Page or Mobile Website?
Keep in mind that you don’t need a mobile Internet site to advertise on mobile – you can choose to promote and run an advertising campaign with a landing page alone.
Mobile landing pages are informative pages about your business that users see when they click the banner or text link. They range from the very basic to ones extremely rich in content and appearance. For example, BuzzCity offers landing pages that are very visual, while Google landing pages are fairly basic but can enable instant click-to-call functions to the advertiser.
Landing pages can be pushed and marketed via an additional advertising campaign. This means new business opportunities can be created and managed quickly and simply. For example, local mobile search directory player mobilePeople offers landing pages which promise geo-location targeting within the directory environment. Similarly, ad networks such as Mo’Jiva provide rich landing pages which can be branded to replace a traditional landing page, based on subdomains that can be remarketed or redirected to a unique domain.
If your marketing plans demand a full website on mobile, companies such as Winksite, Zinadoo, and Wapple can provide sites built for mobile within minutes. The micro-sites may not be feature-rich, but they offer possibilities for cross-marketing and personalized targeting through a variety of options presented during the site-building process. If you choose to develop a site, Kim’s article has lots of great information on the various options available (page 34).
With mobile, you still need to understand which campaigns work and which site or landing page is most effective. Analytics remain a key to success. Targeting different keywords to different calls to action (email submit, SMS information, download link, etc.) can test which landing pages or sites and which ad campaigns are most successful. Bryson has provided some details on analytics for mobile in general in his piece on mobile SEO (pages 39-41).
4. Choosing Keywords and Pricing
The last piece of the puzzle – but by no means the least important – is choosing keywords and pricing for the ad campaign. As with traditional search, prices for keywords need to reflect their relative importance. For mobile ad campaigns, a maximum of 50 keywords is usually standard. Keywords tend to be more generic in the mobile environment – search queries on mobile usually are two words or less. Including misspellings in your keyword choices may be more important in mobile due to a higher incidence of user input errors resulting from the small keyboards on smartphones.
The average clickthrough rate is about 40 cents US for a creative, while a search query rate still can be as low as 5 cents US. This means that price targeting is vital for each of the 50 keywords and the specific creative or text link visuals.
In summary, mobile provides a rich new way of targeting and promoting products via paid search. There are many possibilities for brand awareness and calls to action, but it is vital to remember that mobile users are not motivated by the same factors as those using desktop search. More often than not, boredom drives users to conduct a mobile search. Consequently, careful thought must be put into the creative text. Moreover, a strong keyword sales program is necessary, as users on mobile are not always looking for answers, as they may be when at their desktop. Mobile users are looking for fun, credibility, amusement, and entertainment. The trick is to understand that mobile is a social media and any advertising must reflect that if it is to succeed.