Pinpointing mobile search

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More than ever, consumers turn to smartphones to find information on products and services
More than ever, consumers turn to smartphones to find information on products and services

“Each year for the past several has been dubbed ‘the year of mobile,' and it seems like that's finally true,” says Lynda Myszkowski, senior manager of online marketing at Cars.com. “We know that these shoppers are using our site and shopping for vehicles on their mobile devices, so tailoring search marketing campaigns to mobile will continue to play an important role for Cars.com.”

Myszkowski says she expects Cars.com's investment in mobile SEM to continue to grow as consumer mobile usage itself rises.

Recent enhancements and new solutions have made brand investments in mobile SEM more viable. Google continues to build out its search formats and infrastructure to make it as easy as possible for consumers to get the information they want. This entails using the devices' native features to drive value for on-the-go customers conducting mobile searches.

For instance, incorporating location extensions into ad formats shows customers who are searching for a San Francisco restaurant a map to the restaurant's physical location.

Click-to-call extensions that allow users to directly dial the restaurant, store or other service they are searching for are another powerful mobile tool. Since Google introduced the offering, there have been 10 million click-to-calls per month.

“It used to be the phone, and it is still the phone, but now it does a lot more,” Kraham says. “It's actually tapping into those behaviors and using formats that simplify the process [of] getting you closer to purchase,” Kraham explains.

Q&A: Grazia Ochoa, director of global digital marketing, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

Starwood's global digital marketing head Grazia Ochoa on what the brand is doing in the mobile space now and where it plans to be soon.

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Google is also expanding its “deep link” offerings where search can actually drive application downloads. A user searching for “Angry Birds” can be presented with results that include a direct link to iTunes or the Google Play store. Similarly, Google's Sitelinks allow for a product search to land on the exact page where customers can find information on their specific search query, minimizing the amount of clicks toward making a purchase.

Adam Riff, SVP of digital strategy at MediaWhiz, says usability should be the top priority for brands developing mobile search strategies.

“You have to make sure that you are answering that challenge on the phone, they certainly don't want to go to a website to call you, they want to be able to click a little link right in the ad or organic listing that dials the phone number,” Riff says “Understanding not just the device, but the intent and behavior of the user while using the device is an integral part of [mobile SEM].”

All in the timing

Many of these offerings are based on the notion that a search on a smartphone is a much more spontaneous action than one on a desktop or laptop.

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