Putting mobile search trends in context

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Anne Baker
Anne Baker

We all love the concept of mobile search. For today's busy mobile professional, it is reassuring and convenient to have all the information the Internet can hold just a few mobile-phone clicks away.

Unfortunately, the reality of mobile search is that to date it has failed to live up to consumer expectations, primarily because vendors have forgotten the key when it comes to any kind of online search: relevance.

The good news is that most of the major search providers are embarking on new ways to grow beyond simple WAP-based search engines to deliver a more contextually aware mobile search experience to the consumer.

Using Yahoo's recent launch of the Yahoo Go mobile on device portal service and their oneSearch service as a case study, we can highlight several new trends emerging in the mobile search market that offer a positive outlook for the consumer.

Location, location, location
Yahoo's oneSearch service is designed to take into account both the location of the phone and the context of the search request. It then presents the results in a contextually sensitive manner that is targeted to meet the requested need of the consumer. By collecting and using the information available through the phone, including GPS data, contact information and user preferences, mobile search vendors can offer an experience that is both useful and personalized to the consumer.

Advertising that adds value
Advertisements in the Yahoo Go service are contextually sensitive to the consumer's query. For example, if a consumer is searching for pizza in New York, they could conceivably find a link to call Famous Ray's and place their order. Inserting ads where they are meaningful and relevantto what the consumer is looking for is going to be a critical design feature of any mobile-search service going forward.

Permanent branding on the phone
By developing the Yahoo oneSearch service as a downloadable on-device application, the company is able to deliver much deeper search functionality than a simple mobile search Web site can offer. This makes iteasy for consumers to access and use the service and keeps the

Yahoo brand prominently displayed on the phones that their customers carry with them every day. It is a smart strategy to achieve premium brand awareness and to drive greater uptake from consumers.

I'm sure we will see more search providers deploying their own on-device mobile search applications soon.

Anne Baker is vice president of marketing for Action Engine Corp., Bellevue, WA. Reach her at abaker@actionengine.com.

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