February 04, 2013

Bridging the Advertiser Disconnect

By Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

Advertisers are living in the past.

Consumers are spending 10 - 30 % of their time in front of their phones, yet mobile accounts for about just 1% of marketing budgets.

Clearly advertisers need to spend more on mobile.

But that's not all.

They also need to provide useful and entertaining content that people will want to share.

And they need to do a better job of helping mobile consumers find them in the first place.

The Facts: Time on Mobile

Let's start with the increased use of mobile. How much time are consumers spending with their phones?

According to Kleiner Perkins analyst Mary Meeker, consumers in the US spend 10 percent of their media time on mobile, a rising category which is larger than print and catching up with radio.

Globally, we believe this percentage is higher. Just as mobile phones leapfrogged landlines, they've also bypassed computers as the primary means in which many people in developing markets access the internet. Plus, across the globe, men, women and children are multi-tasking more - playing or looking at content on their phones at the same time that they're in front of the television or listening to the radio.

The Facts: Advertiser Budgets

Yet the Mobile Marketing Association points out that advertisers are only spending one percent of their budgets on mobile.

Some businesses are sharply increasing their mobile presence though. Amazon, eBay and PayPal are all reporting higher sales, thanks in part to their promotion of mobile payment tools.

Mobile content providers - the companies that sell games and videos online and which have tended to be ahead of the curve when it comes to mobile spending - are spending more too; we know that some of these businesses are increasing their mobile ad buys three-fold in 2013.

And consumer confidence in m-commerce is at an all-time high.

Marketers have obviously been slow to adjust. But as agencies, brands and small businesses alike start to spend more on mobile, I would like to share two other important pieces of advice.

Beyond Advertising - Mobile SEO

Consumers frequently use their phones to compare prices. Whether they are online or in a department store, it doesn't matter, they still use their phones to shop around.

And their preferred method of price comparison: search engines.

Forty-four percent of respondents to a recent BuzzCity survey said they use search engines to compare prices, more than social media, advertisements, recommendations or online reviews.

So it's clear that businesses need to optimise their websites to get good search rankings. But what many companies don't realise is that mobile search is not the same as searching on a PC. For starters, the search phrases are shorter. Mobile users are also more likely to rely on Google's auto-complete function.

Do some tests. Google AdWords has a keyword selection tool that differentiates between PC and mobile searches, so you can see which phrases work best on WAP devices or phones with full internet browsers.

Take some time to do some research as well - or ask your agency - about best practices and tips for Mobile SEO.

Social Media

Mobile consumers tell BuzzCity that social media is their second most popular price comparison tool; 35% of our survey respondents use social media to compare prices.  In some markets - like The Philippines, South Africa and Costa Rica - social media surpasses search as a price comparison tool.

Yet social media conversion rates are low relative to other marketing strategies.

So when it comes to social media, don't think advertising, think content.

One, create content that people will want to share or like, regardless of whether it's located in a social media platform, an app or a mobisite. In particular, think about what sort of content shoppers would like to have before they make a purchase.

Two, it's important to have "Like" and "Follow" icons on specific pages of your mobile sites or if you've created a catalogue, give users the option of liking and sharing each product.

For example, Etsy - an online retailer specialising in handmade and vintage items - makes good use of social sharing tools to promote products.

Macy's also provides options to share and like its products, but beyond that, it has also created a tool for consumers to put their shopping list to a vote with friends on Facebook.

Three, now think advertising . . . to drive consumers to your mobile and social media properties. In this way, you can leverage the power of social connections.