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Are mobile search ads for every marketer?

Smartphones are everywhere — a trend marketers want to take advantage of. But what about mobile search advertising? Two experts debate whether this channel is worth a look.


Eduardo Braniff
Global insight director, Imagination
wo years’ experience at gauging customer insights

Yes. We use our mobile phones to find things. We use them to tell people what we are thinking. We use them to show us where we are. And well over half of us walking the planet have a mobile device. When people question whether mobile search is for everyone, the answer is a definite “yes.”

As search becomes a multistage, integrated process across platforms and technologies, mobile phones are best suited to deliver a new search experience.

We search, widely relying on Google and its algorithms. With this information, we then search deeply, relying on qualified opinions expressed in social media platforms to vet what the algorithms have put forward.

We are fast becoming able to narrow down this wide and deep amount of information, tailoring it to our most immediate surroundings, thanks to geo-location technology. The stages of this process are most effectively and most commonly delivered on a mobile phone.

Brands cannot consider if, but how, mobile search will be for them. From investing in keywords to optimizing search engines, to driving above-the-line messaging, to meaningful participation in and contribution to the social arena and to participating in geo-location technologies, mobile search is going to be a proving ground for integrated brands interested in delivering relevant experiences. Results will be all delivered right into the palms of their consumers’ hands.


Patrick Collins
President, 5th Finger
ore than 10 years of digital marketing experience

No. To ensure an optimum user experience, mobile search should only be used when a brand can support the activity through the mobile phone. Driving mobile users from search to a PC’s Web experience, as opposed to a mobile optimized Web site, is a mistake that many brands make when first entering the mobile search arena.

Content from the PC’s Web site can’t simply be reconfigured for the mobile Web. Doing so will lead to a difficult-to-navigate mishmash of content that will frustrate customers and ultimately lead to drop-off. What brands must remember is that it is critical to focus on the mobile user experience and ensure that their mobile Web site meets the needs of today’s on-the-go consumer.

Given the immediacy of the channel, mobile users do not consume content on the phone in the same manner that they do on the PC. They expect quick and easy access to location-specific content, entertainment and the ability to make purchases directly from their phones. Because of the small screen size, pages containing large amounts of content can easily overwhelm mobile users. Instead, brands should focus on providing their mobile users with bite-sized content and utilities such as store locators, video and mobile alerts and downloadable content. In the end, a strong focus on the needs of the consumer and an understanding of what works best in the mobile channel will lead to effective ways to engage with mobile consumers.


Brands should proceed with their mobile search marketing activities slowly and carefully. The large — and growing — number of consumers using mobile technology also demands a quality experience. Hastily made mobile search programs will backfire if they are not built to the standards that consumers demand.

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