Mobile search, browser wars and the rise of the app?

Mobile search, browser wars and the rise of the app?

In 2015, Google Inc. vice president, Jerry Dischler claimed that “the future of mobile is now.” Although it’s clear that mobile use is growing, we have been told this by everyone and their dog since the early noughties, with a new stat to back it up each time.

The truth is that mobile tech is still in its infancy, and the pace of innovation is ferocious. We are being connected with new things, new experiences and new technology faster than even the best minds can predict.

We now use our mobile phones for everything, from buying new clothes and searching for that dream job, to ordering a pizza (then ‘Instagramming’ a photo of said pizza). Google also revealed that for the first time, more searches were made on mobile devices than desktop computers in 2015.

This fact was true of 10 countries, most notably the US and Japan.

What does this tell us about mobile marketing in 2016? It’s about to get a whole lot bigger, that’s for sure. As Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report determined, smartphone users (of which 90% are aged between 16 and 24) spent 2 hours a day on mobile devices last year- almost double the time we spent using desktop computers and laptops.

Retailers, in particular, saw a massive boom in regards to mobile. Not only was it discovered that 43% routinely make payments through their mobile devices, but 73% of UK shoppers predicted they would spend more money on mobile in 2016 (source: Econsultancy).

Here’s what else we've learnt…

Google shows nearby businesses in location-based searches

In May of last year, Google announced the release of their “nearby business” ads for mobile. Affecting only location-based searches, the update ensured that up to four paid business listings would appear (with their directions and the click-to-call function) in “nearby” searches.

The reason for the update? Google discovered that location-based searches had doubled since 2014- and a whopping 80% of these were from mobile devices. As a result, these “nearby business” ads were introduced to replace text ads on mobiles, providing searchers with localised results to help them find what they need almost instantly.

To make the most of the new ad type (if you’re not using it already, of course!), your AdWords account needs to have location extensions enabled.

Already using nearby ads? To adhere to Google Best Practices, we recommend tracking all calls made using the click-to-call function. Check out this article for tips on how to do so.

Google requires your website to be mobile friendly

2015 was also the year that Google really placed an emphasis on improving user experience on mobile devices. In January, it was reported that warnings would be issued to owners of websites that weren’t deemed to be “mobile-friendly” by the search engine.

In April, it was also announced that Google would be boosting the Ad Rank of mobile-friendly pages- a vital component for adhering to Google Best Practices.

So, how do you know if you’re mobile-friendly? For ease, we recommend checking your website using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Users of Apple devices are more likely to convert

Although you should be advertising on both Android and Apple devices, research suggests overall conversions are better on the iPhone. According to a Goldman Sachs report, Apple users were responsible for 75% of Google’s revenue from mobile in 2014.

The report claims this may be due to the fact that Apple users tend to spend longer using their devices, as well as being likely to have more money to spend than Android users. However, our own data analysis has shown that this does not hold true over all industries and depends heavily on the target market and product placement. Basically, products that save you money or target poorer groups will convert better on Android.

Our advice? Test, test, test!

What does this mean in terms of advertising through mobile? Quite a lot, actually.

You see, the subject of Apple’s default search engine became a considerable topic of conversation last year, with rumours circulating that they could soon switch to Bing or Yahoo. It was even theorised that Apple could create their own search engine to rival Google.

As Yoni Heisler from BGR summaries in this article from last May, “if Apple changed the default search engine in mobile Safari to Bing, Google’s revenue would drop by over 13%.” Recent press has suggested that Apple received $1bn to move the decision back a year. Nice work if you can get it!

The ebb and flow of browser usage is definitely rolling away from Google, albeit slowly. We recommend experimenting with Bing and Yahoo if search is a serious source of new business, but also keep an eye on what other platforms your target audience is using.

Want to know where we see mobile advertising going? Check out our part deux here!

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