Dismiss Mobile Search & You’ll Lose Big

By Mar 28, 2011

I am not going to bury the lead: Marketers that dismiss or ignore mobile search will regret it later. While we’ve heard year after year that “this is the year of mobile,” I’m here to tell you that this IS the year – especially as it pertains to mobile search. The brand benefits are numerous and, as mobile paid search activity grows leaps and bounds, consider these facts all CMOs should know:

1. Mobile search activity is skyrocketing

Performics tracks mobile search as a percent of client Google AdWords campaigns, and search activity through mobile devices has skyrocketed over the last year. Consider these growth statistics:

  • Mobile paid search impressions increased from 8.4 percent of total paid Google search impressions (computers and mobile) in December 2010 to 9.4 percent in January 2011.
  • Year-over-year mobile paid search impressions increased 238 percent from January 2010 to January 2011, compared to 13 percent growth in computer-based search.

All signs point to continued growth for mobile paid search going forward, and it’s no coincidence that the fourth quarter of 2010 ushered in a shift toward mobile and away from PCs. IDC reported that smartphones outsold PCs for the first time ever.

2. AdWords campaigns default to include mobile search

Brands that employ Google AdWords campaigns are buying mobile search, unless of course their teams have consciously opted out of the mobile offering. A frighteningly high number of advertisers may not be aware they are engaging in mobile paid search, and they inevitably waste money and miss out on significant opportunity as a result. The growing frequency and scope of reasons people engage in mobile search today means every brand should partake, but the results of buying mobile search haphazardly or without a set strategy can cost brands big time, in click costs and lost sales.

3. Simply allowing mobile to run within AdWords wastes gobs of money

The first question CMOs ought to ask their online/search teams after reading this column is, “Are we managing mobile paid search independently from our overall paid search campaigns?” If the answer is no, heads should roll, and changes should be made. General paid search best practices should be applied to both paid search channels, but managing each independently can deliver huge cost savings and performance improvements. For one thing, mobile search costs can be managed to just a fraction of computer-based search costs.

In December, for example, mobile search CPCs averaged just 43 percent the cost of the average computer based search CPC. It’s hard to tell how long this advantageous pricing will last, but it’s alive and well today.

4. Managing mobile search independently makes a world of a difference

Click cost savings provide a huge incentive, but it’s by no means the only advantage offered to marketers who manage mobile paid search independently. The small screen of mobile phones/smartphones also brings inherent exposure advantages to advertisers that tailor their efforts and pursue the top slot in search results. Click through rates (CTRs) can also be managed to new heights in mobile.

CMOs who want to include mobile paid search as part of their holistic online strategy should consider Google’s advice for how to get started. First, mirror the existing desktop search campaigns for a quick start. Next, adjust keyword selection for the mobile channel. Finally, establish strategies specific to the mobile channel that generate ample impressions and spends that mobile search budget wisely.

Michael Kahn is SVP for client services at Performics (www.performics.com) and a monthly contributor to CHIEF MARKETER. Contact him at michael.kahn@performics.com or at 312-739-0394.