Everything’s Local in Mobile Search

18 Sep

Looking for local online advertising? Consider mobile advertising. In a short period of time mobile advertising has gone from an experimental media to a proven one. According to comScore, Inc. the number of local searches on a mobile device grew 51% from March 2008 to March 2009, and the preferred method of search is by using a mobile browser.

Due to the increase in browsing patterns, more and more online advertising is moving to wireless devices such as the Blackberry, the iPhone, or the Palm Pre. In 2006, U.S. advertisers spent $4.8 billion, or about 3 percent of total ad spending, on mobile ads. That’s expected to increase to 12 percent by 2011, according to eMarketer.

 Mobile local search is still in the development stages, but it is catching up quickly in many business categories and it will very soon be an essential channel for companies looking to get business from local searches.

According to CTIA, over 70 percent of the US population has a mobile phone. In general, there are two choices for local searches using a mobile device: SMS or browser based searches. Each is great at serving a different kind of search need.

SMS & Mobile Browsers: Tools Tailored to Search Requirements

SMS ads have hit the mainstream, with about 15 percent of mobile phones receiving at least one SMS ad according to M-Metrics.  SMS are great at fulfilling a quick information need, such as a sports scores, weather, or stock quotes.

On the other hand, consumers typically perform mobile browser searches when they want more subjective information. For example, a mobile browser based search can help find a restaurant with reviews at Yahoo or Google.

Local Marketing Choices

Where should you look to make take advantage of this rapidly growing trend of mobile local search? On the one hand, SMS has some advantages over Web-based browser searches.  But, users have to opt in to receive sponsored SMS messages. Mobile Search Browsing on the other hand is as simple as putting a PPC ad on a search engine.  However, instead of seeing them on a monitor, customers are seeing them on the screen of their mobile device.  This has many advantages including the possibility of prompting consumers to call a certain number or map a route to your location.

Pizza is already onboard – Others are catching on (quickly)

A large percentage of mobile searches are for local businesses. A majority of those are for restaurants and pizza places in particular. Next in popularity is a group that includes taxis, banks, and searches for specific brands, such as Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Target, Blockbuster, Costco, etc.

Online directories, with an increase of 73%, have seen the largest increase during the past year among the various local content categories, followed by restaurants (70%), maps (63%), and movies (60%).

Other categories are quickly becoming more widespread as two things start to occur: consumers become more aware of the capability and the companies that compile listings for local merchants expand their databases of dentists, doctors, florists, and other businesses.

Some businesses can generate a return more quickly from mobile local search. If your business is in a category that benefits heavily from impulse buying, you are trying to expand your company’s footprint, or you want to take your brand to where consumers are going, mobile is a great fit.

From a branding perspective mobile advertising can be invaluable. But it’s important to remember that people won’t make large purchases based on mobile searches, but it will help with your company’s branding and can help develop a sale down the road. Keep in mind that the majority uses their mobile devices to find the nearest oil-change center, gas station, florist, ATM, or particular restaurant.

What’s Next?

Before you can participate in this brave new world it’s important to ask yourself a few questions: Do you have a website that shows up correctly on mobile browsers? Are you tapping into the local searches coming from mobile devices? Is your Google Map Listing Correct? Let Bayshore help you assess our mobile strategy and develop mobile tactics with you.



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