Google launches new features for mobile shopping moments

Overnight the search giant announced a suite of features to make shopping easier than ever once a product is discovered via its search results. Mobile conversions have lagged desktop primarily because of poor mobile navigation and conversion experiences.

This has resulted in smartphones being used to research and compare, before the final purchase is made on laptop/desktop or in-store. The new features enhance the search results by bringing all the tools a user needs to purchase into the search results page. Presumably the move by other competitors (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.) to launch buy functionalities in recent months has stirred Google into its own Buy version.

POG - Under Armour The most compelling feature is called Purchases on Google which allows users to pay for a  product using a Google checkout process. Here’s how the Adwords blog describes the process:

When a shopper searches on mobile for a product such as “women’s hoodies”, she may see a  shopping ad with ‘Buy on Google’ text. After clicking the ad, she’s taken to a retailer-branded  product page hosted by Google. Checkout is seamless, simple, and secure, thanks to saved  payment credentials in her Google Account.

Other features include expanding Product Listing Ads, two new shopping cards in Google Now  and the ability to directly link to retailers apps from their shopping ads.

All these features will be a boon for retailers who lack the time and resource to overhaul their  current mobile landing pages. The added functionality doesn’t appear to cost advertisers any more but will certainly entice them to invest more in mobile search on Google in future.



Mobile Marketing in 2015 – A Wishlist

Two months ago, I was interviewed by a publishing partner for my views on the future of mobile and whether 2015 would finally be the watershed Year of Mobile. My answer broadly was that the year of mobile has already happened for consumers, but unfortunately its advertisers and publishers who haven’t kept pace. Australian consumers have advanced mobile habits – multi-screening, smartphone penetration and data usage but mobile spend hasn’t been proportionate.

For 2015 to be the year the advertising and marketing community catch up here’s a few things that the industry needs to work out:

Mobile Search: One of the highest performed activities on mobile, search on mobile has grown significantly as a proportion of desktop. Google with its Enhanced Campaigns change in June 2013 made mobile search mandatory for advertisers meaning search advertisers would have to up their mobile specific ads. In a recent research, only 38% of users said that the Click to Call feature is widely available in search results. Advertisers need to get the fundamentals of mobile bidding, ads and scheduling right before mobile search overtakes desktop and the battlefield and mobile cost per clicks gets more competitive.

Consolidation of mobile inventory: Defragmentation in the marketplace needs to occur or publishers need to bring mobile inventory sales in-house. Currently there are multiple players in market, each claiming strengths in inventory, targeting and production nous. New ways of pricing mobile impressions must be considered, for instance paying different rates for peak mobile usage times and days of week (similar to radio) – provided the underlying data can justify the differential.

Mobile data needs to be improved in Australia. In particular, accurate (not inferred) location targeting down to the post code level. This will unlock opportunities to target people at point of purchase e.g. Car dealer lots and inside retail stores. Finding a way to follow users across devices and push them further down the purchase funnel will also require the industry to find data led solutions to target unique persons not impressions.

Mobile payments need to be fast tracked: Australians have adopted contactless payments, so mobile payments are the next step and should benefit small businesses and peer to peer transactions significantly. Retailers, financial institutions and regulatory authorities need to work out the guidelines and processes to make this happen. Some banks already offer tap and go on some devices, but the kicker for growth should be when Apple Pay launches in Australia.

Build creative and UX design expertise: Agencies and brands need to hire specialists who have studied and understand mobile user behavior extensively. Understand how mobile is used in your category, within the consumer decision journey. Tailor your creative, content and user experience for each part of the journey. I recommend this fantastic book to everyone. And I predict in 2015 every digital team will consider embedding a mobile only specialist to acquire up this expertise

Make mobile easier to make it mainstream: Mobile is an afterthought or bolt on for most campaigns because campaign buying and set up is an added and hence annoying layer. The top technology companies like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn who’ve seen their mobile revenues soar make both the front end (for users) and back end (for advertisers) seamless when it comes to mobile advertising. You upload one image and text in the backend and you’re ready to go on all devices with a little device specific bid adjustment if required. No separate sizes and tags.

Macro view for mobile: Ensure mobile becomes an important part of every user touch point not just advertising and media plans. A mobile first transformation project should encompass UX, creative and content as well. When evaluating, take into account metrics like phone calls and location extension usage that lead to offline transactions or estimate them (e.g. Store visits) using historic data the way Adwords now offers.

Mobile is utility or entertainment: Mobile users are looking to take an action immediately or a quick entertainment fix. Deliver actionable links (click to call, location extensions) within ads or build a killer mobile solution that solves a need within the consumer journey e.g. Commbanks Property app a few years ago. For utility be guided by location and intent and for entertainment create snackable content.

Stay ahead of the curve: Programmatic, retargeting and video will drive the next wave of mobile investment as advertisers become disillusioned with past results from mobile banner activity. Cross-device targeting has loads of potential – advertisers will either create their own databases or rely on big players like Google, Facebook and Twitter who can use their member sign in’s to create cross-device unique identification layers.

Mobile measurement: Finally we need a robust and recurring traffic measurement system. We also need industry research that provide deeper insights instead of telling us multi-device ownership and multi-screening has marginally risen year on year.

eMarketer predicts Paid Search to dominate US Mobile Ad Spending by 2015

According to a latest press release by eMarketer, US Mobile Ad Spending will touch $4.4 bn by 2015 driven by smartphone and mobile internet adoption.  The release also provides a year by year breakdown by format, which shows mobile paid search growing 57% CAGR from 2010 to be the No.1 format by 2015.

eMarketer Mobile Ad Spend Forecast

To date, messaging-based formats have been the lead choice for advertisers as mobile experiences have been limited by screen experience on older feature phones. With the high uptake of feature-rich smart phones starting with the iPhone and then accelerated by Android phones, this is no longer an issue.

This blog has already advocated reasons why mobile search is important in 2011. Advertisers must start setting up test and learn experiments using enhancements like click-to-call and location extensions that I have written about before. Google is now factoring in mobile search optimisation into quality scores for mobile search ads which means mobile optimised sites benefit more.

How to use Mobile Search for your store locations

I was using my day off this morning to plan for the upcoming Easter long weekend in April. As I wrote in a previous post I am quite bullish on mobile search. So I started a new generic Google search on my smart phone for “car rental”. I expected to find a long list of suppliers whose numbers I’d have to note down and then call individually to figure out which one is the closest for the pick up and drop off after the trip. My search results pleasantly surprised me, the first sponsored listing was Europcar which provided a link to the nearest office based on my location (which needs to be active on my phone) and also a number. I could expand the location link to see the address on a Google map. The ad takes advantage of the hyper local distance feature – the blue marker indicates that the location is just 4.2km away.

Hyperlocal-mobile-search - Europcar

Clicking on the number takes me to my dial pad so I can ring them immediately, which is just what I want when I’m conducting research on a phone. I ran the same search on a desktop and got a simple Europcar text ad, so they’ve obviously been smart enough to develop a separate mobile campaign linked to their Google Places account.

So I wondered if other businesses with offline store locations/franchises, and where consumer might need to speak to someone were doing the same. Here are some sample results of my other searches for location dependent services that came up with standard Adwords text ads only.


Create mobile campaign ads with hyper local information with 4 easy steps:

1. Just set up a separate mobile specific campaign. Either duplicate existing campaigns or select keywords using the updated Keyword Tool that now gives visibility on volume for mobile only searches

2. Create Ad Extensions > Locations, check the box next to “Extend my ads with location information.”

3. Link to your existing Google Places account which has your business locations and phone numbers and you are set.

4. Ensure your campaign is set to show to Mobile devices with Full Internet browsers only.

The hyperlocation feature is automatically enabled for location extensions. It provides your consumers quick visual cues on how near your business is to their location and allows them to connect immediately from their phones. Users need to be opted in to share their locations on to see this feature, but with the proliferation of mobile search, smartphones and location-based services, this behaviour is becoming widespread. I’d like to hear your experiences with such campaigns either as an advertiser or user, so please write in.

Why Mobile Search should be part of your 2011 strategy

A recent Performics report indicated that by the end of 2mobile search011, Mobile Google paid search will generate 16% of all Google paid search clicks, up from 3.5% in January 2010. And according to GoogleMobile search traffic on Android tripled in the first quarter of 2010 . Analyst Imran Khan of JP Morgan recently predicted that mobile paid search is key to Google’s future so we should expect more announcements and innovations in this space.

What does this mean for Australian advertisers who have been slow to embrace this space. In last years AIMIA Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index, 40% of respondents said they conducted a mobile search at least once a month and 25% accessed a website using a mobile search.  This blog believes the growth of large display smart phones and 3G handset ownership, as well as the astounding uptake of Android powered phones that come preloaded with Google Search will propel mobile search traffic even more in the future. The message for Australian marketers is clear – get into mobile search sooner rather than later. With overall search volume and competition currently low, average cost-per-clicks are still cheap even for categories that are highly competitive in desktop paid search. Being amongst the first-movers offers advertisers the advantage of building up channel learning’s and best practices before the competition gets in.

Mobile search campaigns can be easily set up in Adwords campaigns, with the option of offering a click-to-call feature by adding phone extensions to your paid ads. Either a national number or location specific numbers tailored to the user’s location can be displayed. Users performing a mobile search are time sensitive and expect immediate information that will help them transact quickly. By offering them an opportunity to speak to a customer service person through a simple click, you improve your chance to close a highly probable sale. Ad messages need to be crisp and keyword selection needs to be generic keeping in mind the space limitations of mobile. Ensure you create separate mobile only paid search campaigns within your account so you can benchmark mobile search ROI against existing paid search activity.  On the conversion side, invest in improving users experience during the path to conversion by investing in mobile sites.