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Growth in mobile search influencing desktop strategy

The growth in mobile search is forcing marketers to be more precise in their search engine marketing messaging for both mobile and desktop.

While many mobile searches are conducted by consumers who will make a purchase in the next 24 hours, desktop searchers are more likely to be making a purchase decision in the next 30 days. Because mobile searchers are further along in the purchase cycle than desktop searchers, marketers have to have a separate search strategy for each.

?Mobile search is forcing more precision on both sides, with SEM getting more focused on the type of messaging you are doing for desktop versus mobile,? said Rachel Pasqua, vice president of mobile at iCrossing, New York.

When considering how to monetize mobile, keep in mind that mobile searches for travel-related terms increased 12 times and searches for specific hotel terms increased 30 times from 2009 to 2010, according to Google,

It is also important to keep in mind that brands cannot cookie mobile searches.

While the focus will be different for each brand, mobile search ads will typically be far more action- oriented than desktop.

Purchase date
For automobile brands, for example, it may make sense to focus on building early awareness via desktop search and helping consumers to narrow down their options.

In mobile, the focus should be on more action oriented activities like how to find a local dealer.

For hotels, desktop search efforts can be more experiential-focused to reach consumers who are just beginning to think about where to stay during an upcoming vacation.

A mobile Web site, however, can be more stripped down and focused on helping consumers to make a reservation right then and there.

?The user experience and the approach to content will be quite different for mobile search versus desktop,? Ms. Pasqua said.

Google last week introduced several new search features. These include Instant Pages, which helps helps users get to the Web destination that they are searching for and Auto-Predict, which guesses which words a user is typing in to search.

Yahoo, Microsoft and Google could not be reached for comment by press time.

Separate strategies
The need for separate mobile and desktop search experiences is being reflected in the growing number of marketers who are managing separate sets of keywords for mobile and desktop search.

?This year, we are seeing a flowering of mobile search, with our clients really managing mobile search as a separate entity from desktop,? said Chia Chen, senior vice president and North American mobile practice lead at Digitas, Boston.

?The terms are different because mobile search is getting people who are closer to that moment of making a decision than people who are desktop,? he said.

Digitas recently partnered with Google for mobile insight and trends analysis. The two companies are combining original search and marketing data to create forecast trends, inform investment strategies and drive increased adoption and deployment of mobile-optimized Web sites.

Digitas analyzed mobile searches using Google data and found that 11 percent of searches related to general food-related terms came from mobile.

However, when analzing much more specific terms such as ?Chinese food? or ?Chinese recipes,? the number jumps to 35 percent.

?This shows that consumers are much closer to the point where they are making a decision and are going to be more specific in what they are looking for,? Mr. Chen said.

This means there is going to be some difference in the content presented in mobile versus desktop as the result of a search. 

Mr. Chen points to the need for more specific product usage information in mobile as compared to desktop, where marketers want to go broad and deep on a broad range of brand-related information.

Click to call can also be an effective way to get consumers the information they are looking for in mobile while its track record in desktop has not been too great.

?People are much more likely to initiate a call from a mobile device ? it is a much more immediate call to action,? Ms. Pasqua said.

Mobile search grows
The changes are coming as mobile search is growing.

Last year, less than 10 percent of a brand?s overall traffic came from mobile, per Ms. Pasqua. So far this year, the number is closer to 20 percent and iCrossing expects it to reach 30 percent by the end of the year.

?Brands are seeing the same kind of traffic to their search campaigns,? she said.

The mobile traffic is in addition to traditional desktop traffic.

?The traffic from mobile devices isn?t taking away the traffic from desktop ? if anything it is supplemental,? Ms. Pasqua said.

Brands are investing more heavily in mobile search, too.

In the past, companies would have put all of their search focus on the Internet. However, now they are sorting out their budgets and putting some of the dollars allocated for local initiatives, for example, into mobile search.

Digital budgets overall are growing so where any reallocation is happening, the funds are being pulled from traditional media and invested in mobile search instead.

The growth in mobile search is expected to continue because the costs are relatively lower than desktop search.

?As more brand understand that there is a pretty good value to be had in mobile search, there?s going to be more of them owning an entire category or set of search terms in mobile,? Mr. Chen said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer