Mobile: the fastest techno revolution in history

Ian Carrington Google mobile advertising sales director

The mobile phone has stimulated the fastest global diffusion of any technology in history. From essentially zero 25 years ago, there are now over 5 billion mobile handsets in use in a global population of under 7 billion. Since 2009 we’ve seen a 500% increase in commercially relevant mobile queries, enabling some early-adopting UK advertisers to capture exceptional results from their mobile marketing, already outperforming desktop activity.

During 2010 we’ve seen an increased adoption and understanding of this area of marketing. The number of advertisers and agencies splitting out mobile activity within AdWords for instance, has grown greatly. Marketers are starting to realise the importance of targeting, tailoring and tracking this side of their business. And we’ve seen results from specifically mobile-optimised campaigns: 43% increase in conversion rate; 80% higher click-through rates, and CPAs 15% lower on average.

However, just four of the top 20 most frequently visited retailer websites are optimised for mobile, despite a staggering 4.2 million UK consumers visiting these companies on mobiles every month.


Ten years ago advertisers questioned whether consumers would buy a TV or car insurance using the internet. Since then the value of UK ecommerce has grown in excess of 2,000% to £223bn. Now the same question is being asked about mobile commerce, but we’re already seeing UK advertisers achieve outstanding results. eBay is on course to sell $1.5bn-worth of goods through mobile commerce in 2010 – they sell an item via mobile every two seconds. And not just small-change items – among transactions this year were reportedly a 23-foot boat and a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette – testament to eBay’s effective mobile strategy but indicative too of consumer willingness to embrace new buying behaviour.

Mobile is also impacting how consumers interact with brands in the high street. One in three searches on mobiles has local intent, meaning that location-based marketing has become a powerful mobile strategy for advertisers. With recent innovations like hyperlocal, companies can upload business locations and have their listing served right to the user’s screen.

onsumers and advertisers are also embracing new forms of contactless technology such as scannable QR and barcodes, thanks to apps like Shop Savvy and Google Shopper. We’re starting to see advertisers really think about how to use new mobile engagement models: Calvin Klein recently ran billboards with simply a giant QR code and the slogan ’Get it Uncensored’, which once scanned on a mobile led to a raunchy ’uncut’ jeans commercial; and it’s been some time since O2, TFL and Barclaycard trailblazed the contactless ’Oyster phone’ in London. Near Field Communication technology, allowing the exchange of information over devices within a field of a few inches, could be game-changing for any business dealing with the transfer of data.

Having seen tremendous progress within mobile during 2010, we’re looking forwards to a 2011 full of further technological and marketing innovation. We’re excited to have the AdMob team fully on board to help drive improvements to targeting, creative ad formats and customer experience. With a predicted 20 million mobile users in the UK by the end of 2010, and marketers responding in new and powerful ways to opportunities in this space, it’s an exciting place to be.

Google’s Tips for Success in Mobile

Be Clear. What is your mobile strategy? Is it to acquire new custom; engage users with your brand; drive awareness? Consider your strategy and engagement platform/s carefully, and be clear what your metrics of success are and how you will measure them.

Be Ready. Is your brand ready to be mobile? Ensure that you make it easy for consumers to engage with and purchase from your brand online by creating mobile-friendly platforms. Challenge yourself to stand out from the crowd with a strong mobile-optimised website. We believe this is a key foundation for any business/ the power of the browser experience is strong, and an effective site strategy can cater for both existing and new customers.

Be Found. How will customers find you? Help your brand gain visibility by creating separate mobile AdWords campaigns with appropriate keywords and creative. Leverage new ad formats such as click-to-call, click-to-download, sitelinks for mobile etc, and always test and learn.

Be Smart. How does mobile impact on your business? Target, track and understand your results on mobile so that you can carry out meaningful tests and optimise your marketing activity. Understand the impact that mobile has and re-invest to gain new learnings.

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