Category Archives: mobile advertising

FTC’s New Paid Search Guidance Will Rearrange Search Marketing

FTC

The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a warning to the major search engines requesting that they more clearly distinguish between the organic results and paid ads. This applies not only to traditional search engines, but also social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as mobile apps.

The FTC’s warning to search engines should be a wake-up call to the search marketing industry. The days of playing fast and loose with mixed paid and organic search results on search engine results pages (SERPs) appears to be coming to an end. In its place will be more stringent oversight of how search engines display paid search results and, as a result, more cumbersome and potentially onerous restrictions on what search marketing can and cannot do with their campaigns.

What are the potential implications for marketers of this new guidance? What do search marketers need to do now to begin adjusting for these changes?

It is unclear at this point the extent that each search engine will address this request, but it is expected that minor changes to the way paid ads are identified will ensue to avoid possible FTC action.

These changes, however, can impact the efforts of search engine marketers, as they will potentially need to make more drastic modifications to their search engine marketing efforts.

Here are some potential effects that the FTC’s warning will have on marketers:

Further Real-Estate Limitations

Clarifying the difference between paid and organic search listings can potentially limit the space available to both organic and paid listings. This means that either fewer results will be able to display “above the fold” without scrolling, or the character limits within each result will be reduced.

If the number of results above the fold is decreased, achieving an above-the-fold listing will be even more competitive. Businesses will be competing heavily for top placement and more of an investment will be needed to generate current levels of volume.

In the case of character limits being reduced within each result, businesses will need to update their online messaging to get their point across in less space. Paid ad titles and ad copy will likely have to be updated to fit within new limits and titles, and meta descriptions of organic mobile pages will need to be shortened to avoid being truncated when listed.

More Strategic Mobile Targeting

Paid search targeted to mobile devices is one of the fastest-growing digital marketing channels and is playing a bigger role in how consumers find products and services. The implications of the FTC warning on mobile paid search could have a big impact on how these ads are displayed. Mobile search real estate, because of the size of mobile browsers, is already very limited.

What marketers will need to pay close attention to is how they segment their mobile targeting by device type. For example, the difference in the amount of SERP real estate between tablets and smartphones is likely to increase. Targeting and bidding strategies will need to vary per device to be most efficient.

Changes to Voice-Activated Search Services

Another implication specific to mobile search is brought on by the request relating to voice-activated search results. The FTC’s warning extends to services such as Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S-Voice. The FTC has requested that when a voice search is executed, an audio disclosure should be made to identify paid advertising. This could potentially deter users from those paid ads, making the organic listings more valuable.

Marketers must keep a close eye on search engine results and take note of any changes that occur. When used correctly and responsibly, paid search marketing can provide a tremendous benefit to brands’ online marketing and customer acquisition strategies. But in light of the FTC’s letter, the days of deceptive paid search tactics are coming to an end. That will benefit both consumers and marketers in the long run.

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More Proof That 2012 is The Year of Mobile

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, 2012 is set to be an immense year in the mobile search industry. There was some talk at the recent Mobile World Congress event to shed some light on mobile usage, both in European countries, the US and Japan.

And out of a survey of 1,000 respondants the answers are still, quite surprising. First off there’s the point that using a smartphone to search has made nearly 100% penetration in the market, and most of those search at least once a week. And according to StatCounter Google browser based mobile search accounts for 97% of that share. If that isn’t enough of a spur to work on your mobile site, how about when you consider the social side of the mobile web. Particularly in the US, it was found that over 90% of smartphone owners sought local information in their searches, and that smart device owners were heavy social networking users. Taking that 90% of local searches, 25% of them made a purchase based upon their findings and more than half of them contacted the business they found.

That’s only the US numbers, and already it’s easy to see that the numbers are quickly climbing. Some of the other discoveries made can be found here, but some of the highlights contained within I’ve pasted below.

Half of mobile shoppers make a purchase on their device, and 20% of those (US) make a purchase daily.

More than a third of consumers admit to carrying a smartphone in order to compare prices while they shop.

More than 1 billion people (globally) will use mobile devices as their primary internet access point.

There’s only some of the data reflected by the study, are you and your website ready for the mobile web?

Hitting Your Mobile Target

The mobile web, it’s where the search volumes are beginning to slowly shift as smart phone and tablet use continues to grow. Estimates are almost double from just a couple of years ago for the growth of mobile search and it’s worth, somewhere north of $8 billion for 2012 was the last estimate I’ve seen floating around online.

There are a few points which you can keep in mind when it comes to maximizing your mobile potential. Make sure to include reviews and testimonials on your site, and make them readily available in mobile searches. You have only a few seconds to grab a surfers attention in the mobile market, you need to put your absolute best foot forward. Another key point to keep in the forefront of your mobile strategy, be sure to leverage attractive images of your business and it’s services. It’s the first thing that draws a users eye to a result, so making it attractive should be top priority.

Something else to keep in mind, one of the most widely watched sports events occured over this passed weekend if you missed it, the Super Bowl. It’s not exactly the most convenient thing in the world to get up out of your seat when you’re in the midst of an exciting game, and Google released some interesting information on the search metrics about the game. Out of all of the searches conducted during the Super Bowl, 41% of them were made using a mobile device. According to Google, “Super Bowl ad related searches in the US rose 200% on desktop, 970% on tablets and a whopping 2700% on smartphones.” If you think those numbers are impressive, couple that with the fact that more than 110 million people in the US alone watched the game and that’s a huge amount of potential mobile searches.

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

It’s a new year and it’s time to make a choice. Do you make the leap and move forward in search by making a strong push into the mobile marketing? Now before you run off and invest a great deal of time into a mobile version of your website, a short discussion first.

The number of mobile subscribers with a smart phone has passed the 100 million mark in the US alone, and smartphones are impacting how people access and use the web. Some estimates peg the number at around 80% current smartphone users shop on their phones, and that this number is going to rise by another 73%, that’s a huge amount of commecial activity to be capitalized on. Google mobile query volume is up 400%, by digging into those queries you can begin to determine how smartphone and tablet users may search for your brand. Take a close look at the information you have coming through your stats, should you have access, and be aware that as mobile search continues to increase, the mobile search results will be moved from the organic results.

Then it’s time to take a look at your site as a mobile entity. Most smartphones now have a typical browser that you would find on a computer, but they display content differently. Their processing power is less than that of your desktop machine, so you need to bear that in mind. If your site has a lot of flash, animations or scripts running to make it flashy, you’ll want to eliminate their use in a mobile site. The quicker, cleaner, and more to the point you can make your mobile site the more likely you are to retain visitors. Once you have a proper mobile site created, you can begin to tune the content towards mobile search terms and phrases.

Now that your mobile site is built and full of relevant mobile search terms, you might start to be thinking about having an app to deliver important information and features to customers. It’s not a bad idea, reasonably affordable and it can help streamline passing information to those interested in your brand. A difficulty to bear and mind and hopefully avoid however, is where you make your app available for download. The Apple App store and Google Market are a great repository for you to make your app widely and almost immediately trusted, but it’s a terrible pain to search through the thousands upon thousands of apps. An easy route for you to adapt, create your app and upload to the app stores. Once you’ve been given the all clear, create a link directly on your websites which points your visitor directly at your app.

This is just a short discussion of some of the topics you should keep in the forefront of your mind as 2012 gets rolling. With the amount of smartphone and tablet users growing each day, this may be a year we begin to see the mobile industry take over desktop use.

Mobile E-Commerce – Are You Ready?

Although it’s somewhat old news by now, what do you get when you combine one of the worlds largest retailers, with a social media and mobile commerce company? You end up with a product known as @Walmartlabs, who just recently purchased another company called OneRiot. OneRiot is a company devoted to targeted mobile advertising which can go so far as targeting specific locations, handsets and demographics.

So in Wal-Mart’s bag of tricks, we now have a mess of social media advertising in OneRiot and a social media, mobile ecommerce backbone in the foundation of @Walmartlabs when they purchased Kosmix. As a business and website owner you may be thinking it’s not such a big deal, but if you did I’d tell you that you were thinking too small and short sighted. Coming up in the US, rather quickly I might add, is Black Friday and since 2005 it has been the busiest shopping day in the entire country.

With social networking already at the most popular activity on the web, and with the rapidly climbing number of mobile devices being used in social networking, it looks like Wal-Mart is taking steps to harness the lucrative shopping season quickly approaching. Take note all business owners who rely on ecommerce to power up your sales, if your site is not mobile friendly you’ll be sorely missing out. If your site is not able to widely broadcast flash sales for example to your social network, you’ll be missing out on a huge sales potential in the coming Christmas season. It’s never too late to invest in your social/mobile future, take that first step and we’ll get you on your way.

Ad agencies are scrambling to evolve

Major companies from Nestle to Ford are increasing the proportion of their ad spend on the Internet to the detriment of traditional press ads and big ad agencies are scrambling to evolve.

The changes have given birth to a slew of tech start-ups trying to come up with more sophisticated ways to match ads to consumers, often with sophisticated data mining techniques and algorithms.

While traditional advertising groups jostled for awards at a recent annual industry gathering in Cannes, the year’s biggest star was a newcomer to the beaches: the social network Facebook.

The company has gone from nowhere a few years ago to become the biggest single seller of online display advertising in the United States with more than $2 billion in revenues this year, according to research firm eMarketer.

“If I have a good experience with a brand I’ll tell a person offline — I might tell my friend — but if I do it on Facebook the average person is telling 130 people,” said Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Google’s Mobile Dominance

It’s the newest multi-billion dollar industry, with only 5% of it’s market being currently tapped as a resource and who owns the biggest slice of the pie? According to a report released last week from banking and investment firm Macquarie Group, Google is absolutely dominating the mobile search share in the US with 98% of the market.

Even Eric Schmidt, the Google CEO admitted that the mobile arm of the company is growing faster than was expected and completely surpassed all of the internal projections of growth. In a somewhat disturbing pattern in the mobile market however, it has shown that costs per click (CPC) are higher, with a lower click through rate (CTR) in the big picture. The average CPC on mobile is 13% more expensive than the PC version while the click through rate is around 30% lower than PC users. To be successful in mobile you need to be relevant, consistent and a way to grab those impulsive searchers. That one dollar adsense ad you put up is now going to cost you $1.13, and if your copy isn’t eye catching or compelling enough to bring the customer to you, it’s the beginning of an expensive lesson.

Organic search engine optimization boasts the highest return on investment in the marketing world today. With measurable results, proactive and engaging marketing can drive your company to it’s limits for productivity. Finding a truly competant SEO expert in the most recent world might seem like shooting fish in a barrel, but it’s much more akin to a needle in a haystack. There’s a thousand impersonators out there, but only a handful who can truly get the job done. SEO performed by the experts is like leaving a fingerprint on a website, the real players know when work has been done properly.

Becoming an expert in SEO isn’t a matter of taking an online course, attending a seminar or reading a book. It’s about cutting your teeth by attempting to rank your own sites, earning your wings by surpassing all other players in competetive niches because you’re just that good. You don’t pick up SEO overnight, you don’t learn it by watching the pros and you certainly do not venture into the market without prior experience and knowledge.

Localized search for Google

Strategizing localized search is an emerging search engine optimization trend.

Businesses that are listed on Google Maps and Google Places become one step ahead of the competition. These listings also lay down the foundation for a mobile marketing campaign, which is predicted to become a major force the search industry.

Google is planning to install a Google Instant-like function for portable devices, which could make localized search even more relevant.

Mobile Search Advancement

With how compact, powerful and convenient todays smartphones are becoming. The rise of the netbook and tablet pc, it’s not a surprise at all that mobile search, search using the aforementioned techonologies, is growing in leaps and bounds. A very general breakdown of Googles numbers were posted in their blog this past week:

Over the past two years, Google’s mobile searches have grown by more than five times. Furthermore, in the third quarter of 2010, Google mobile searches jumped 130% year over year.

Percentages are amazing to look at and all, but they should also be taken with a some thought; they can make the actual results seem much larger than they are. But onto mobile search! Google, like Bing and other search companies, have their own keyword search tool. They have however, recently added the ability to check which terms are being used in mobile searches.

The Keyword Tool now helps you build a better keyword list to target mobile users. Under “Advanced options,” you can now search for keywords for devices with mobile WAP browsers, mobile devices with full Internet browsers (think iPhone and Android phones), or all mobile devices.

So your site, which by now is hopefully mobile friendly (it is 2011 after all), can be optimized with the mobile market in mind. With the billions of dollars in revenue this past holiday season which were made via mobile techonology, it’s well worth the investment.

Over 30% Shopping via Mobile

Consumers are increasingly using their mobile phones to visit retailer’s websites.

According to research from ForeSee, which found more than 30 per cent of shoppers use this method to make a purchase.

This could encourage companies using SEO services to look at their digital marketing when it comes to the mobile web.

As many as 67 per cent of those who visited a shop’s website did so while they were in the store, while 26% used their gadgets to check out a competitor’s website to compare the two price offerings.

“Any retailer not actively working to develop, measure and refine its mobile experience is leaving money on the table for competitors,” the report’s author Kevin Ertell said.

Some 10,000 e-shoppers were quizzed in the survey, which also discovered 8% of mobile users visiting UK retailer sites made a purchase.

The Mobile Association recently predicted smartphone sales will see more people accessing the web via the devices in 2011.