Three Reasons Why Paid Marketers Should Embrace the Mobile Revolution

Failing to embrace any emerging trend is a death sentence in the business world, but none more so than the mobile revolution and the paid marketer. Mobile ad revenue is expected to surpass desktop revenue by late 2015 or early 2016 according to reports published by eMarketer and Marin. This should come as no shock to anyone who has been watching the landscape of paid ads morph and change over the past few years as mobile growth, particularly the smartphone market, has exploded worldwide. According to GSMA Intelligence, there are a little over 7.55B mobile connections globally with 3.74B unique mobile subscribers

Not only are we seeing a shift of desktop spend towards mobile, but as our CEO Will Critchlow illustrated in his piece, The Future of TV and the Golden Age of Digital, we’re also seeing a shift of spend from more ‘traditional’ advertising mediums such as TV toward digital marketing channels. Mobile is big business. If you and your business want to be in the optimal position to get the largest slice of that pie you can, you need to start embracing mobile. If you haven’t already started embracing the mobile revolution, here’s a few reasons why you should change your tune.

1. One-to-one relationships

Do you share your cell phone? Neither does the majority of the rest of the world. Unless you’re a parent that is prolonging the inevitable of buying your youngster a cell phone and dreading adding yet another bill to your monthly routine, it’s very unlikely that you are sharing a mobile device across multiple users.

According to worldometers data, there are currently over 7.36B people spread across the globe. As we mentioned above, there are 3.74B unique subscribers to mobile throughout the Earth. This means that even if we include the youngsters whose parents are delaying the inescapable, over 50.8% of the world’s population has their own cell phone. This percentage jumps up even higher in countries such as the US. According to Pew Research Center’s 2014 Internet Project Survey, 90% of Americans have a cell phone of some kind, with 64% of Americans owning a smartphone.

While historically conversion rates for mobile have been lower than their desktop and tablet counterparts, this is the first time in the world of marketing that we are beginning to see a one to one relationship between device and user. Radios, TVs, desktops are traditionally shared across multiple users and the same can often be said about tablets; however, with cell phones there is a one-to-one relationship that is being created.

For paid marketers, this means that our demographic, dimension, and psychographic targeting data is significantly more accurate and can be more easily trusted. This allows our targeting and retargeting efforts to be more specific and laser focused to match our market research and persona. If we combine our mobile data with desktop via cross-device tracking, we can extrapolate these more highly targeted data points back into our desktop targeting.

2. Geo-targeting

While the desktop geo experience is generally a great experience, it can be fraught with inaccuracies. For example while I still lived and worked in West Lafayette, Indiana our business class internet from the second ever two-time Golden Poo Award winning company Comcast, informed Google that we were located in the Greater Chicago area, which was roughly a two hour drive North by Northwest. This was often reflected in the ad copy I was served and that created a less than optimal search experience, specifically when the query was location sensitive.

When the city or metro provided to Google via your ISP is correct, the location is still an approximation, which forced Google to use a centroid based system when serving you nearby business locations. Effectively, a center point is assigned in each city or metro and Google would show you results based upon the assumption that you were within that centroid. This means that you are often shown businesses that are across town, even when there may be an option that fits your needs much closer to your current location. While Google has recently improved this experience for desktop users, provided you allow them to have more access to your location data, it goes without saying that desktop geo-sensitive searches and experiences have been lacking.

Mobile geo data and geo-targeting has flipped this on its head. No longer will you be served results that do not necessarily correlate to your accurate geo-position such as the image below. Instead you will be served results that are more highly targeted to your actual location, because you’ll obviously have your mobile with you when out and about.

An example of desktop vs. mobile geo-targeting:

As you can see in the images below, the selected Starbucks locations are much closer in the mobile search than in the desktop search.

Starbucks locations on a desktop search

The desktop search showing scattered locations.

Starbucks locations on a mobile search

The same search on mobile with more accurate locations.

This enhanced geo-targeting also extends to ad targeting capabilities. Previously on desktop we were limited to the geo information that was provided to Google via the ISP, which as illustrated in the aforementioned example could be significantly incorrect. This meant that we as marketers would often be serving ads to those whom were not actually in our target location, which translated into a poor user experience and less than optimal CTRs. Now we are able to more accurately target users that, based on their location, may be more highly interested in our product, service or business.

This is where the real benefit is felt. When a searcher hasn’t yet defined where they wish to take their business and are instead searching for a type of service. Image if I had been searching for coffee shops instead of Starbucks specifically, I would have been likely to choose the option that was nearest to my current location. Non-branded ads stand to gain the most from the improved geo-targeting at our fingertips.

3. Mobile Payment

Using your cell phone to complete a transaction, whether that be online or in store, is going to continue to ameliorate. To continue my borderline obsessive use of Starbucks examples, when I head to Starbucks to grab a quick coffee, I grab my keys and phone. No wallet necessary. This is due to the Starbucks app built-in payment system. I simply reload my balance with my stored credit, debit, gift card, or banking information and I’m all set to make a swift, easy, and dangerously painless payment for my morning coffee and occasional vanilla bean scone.

The Starbucks app payment experience is so painless that Starbucks reported in April of this year that 19% of all US payments were completed via the app, this has played a major role in their continued sales performance throughout recent history. From a user’s perspective, this also serves as an illustration of how a mobile payment solution should work. No clunky log-in system, no hurdles to jump through. Just a simple, easy to use payment system that facilitates a smoother transaction process for both the user and the cashier, or in this case, the barista.

There are currently many players vying to grab the lion’s share of the mobile payment market. From PayPal to Apple Pay and Google Wallet, each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and the map to success is yet to completely unfold.

There are two main avenues for transactions with these services, online or in-store. While PayPal is the most prevalent online solution, presently none of these services has a commanding foothold on either. Nonetheless, as more and more debit and credit cards are outfitted with EMV Chips, brick and mortar retailers are quickly being forced to adapt to the new security standards and upgrade their POS systems to accommodate newer technologies or face liability in the face of security breaches and fraud. These new systems will be Near Field Communication (NFC) ready and this places Apply Pay and Google Wallet, which already use this technology, in a unique position to expand their reach to more physical locations.

As mobile payment solutions become more and more prevalent in our everyday lives, the mass’s adversity to using these systems to make online purchases will lessen in kind. This will likely force online businesses to adapt to the changing trends and implement support for the mobile systems. This could mean that whomever wins the battle for the in store transactions, will win the online battle. In short, users will be looking for one solution to fit all their needs.

Winning this battle is even more important as Google is currently testing click to buy CTAs in the SERPs and Shopping results.

An example of how buying directly from Google SERPs will look.

Once Google takes notes from Amazon’s one-click ordering option, the ability to make a purchasing decision without ever leaving the SERP will exist, and this will allow for much quicker purchasing decisions for many mobile users out there. Due to their current issues with monopoly related legal battles, particularly in the UK, Google is unlikely to only support Google Wallet for their click to buy service but if users innately choose Google, they will effectively get to double dip on customers that purchase via paid ad CTAs and Google Wallet. Plus, if this stays as a mobile only option, searchers may even turn to their mobile devices instead of their desktops to make the final purchasing decision due to ease of use and security.

Embrace the Revolution

These are just a few reasons as to why you should embrace the mobile revolution, but there are countless more out there and even more that are likely yet to be discovered. By leveraging the advantages that mobile gives to us marketers, we can not only create better and more effective marketing campaigns, but we can create a better ad and web experience for our users. If and when we do that, content creators, content consumers, and marketers all win.

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