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The Year of Mobile. (Finally).


By Amy Belasen

It seems like every year for the last five years or so, analysts have predicted the “year of mobile.” As we start off 2011, this prediction may finally be coming true. Mobile made some major leaps in the last two years, and it’s changing the way we do just about everything. We can use our mobile devices to make purchases, download maps, keep up with the news, play games with our friends and even read books. And, of course, we are now using our phones to search for local businesses.  

Will G5 continue marketing online? Yes. Will we also be marketing online to mobile devices? Yes. Does one translate directly to the other? Unfortunately no, but that keeps things interesting.  

Mobile devices require developers to create mobile-friendly websites using a very different set of guidelines. Sites optimized for mobile devices can easily be viewed on a small screen without a lot of scrolling or zooming in and out. Best practices suggest that designers consider user intent before selecting the functions and content used on the mobile sites they create.  

Some other technical considerations for mobile websites include:  

1) Mobile connections can be limited – content must be optimized for both impact and technical considerations.  

2) Current mobile browsing software has set a new standard for technical capability. This allows developers to use advanced programming solutions.  

3) Mobile device interaction often relies on touch screens, offering both opportunities and challenges when translating traditional website designs.  

4) Unnecessary content must be avoided – limit page elements to only those required to satisfy user intent.  

5) Mobile users are often on the move and require specific information that satisfies their needs at their fingertips. This might mean answering the basic questions: "Does this company have a location near me? Is it open at convenient times (including right now)? Are they within my budget?" If the answer to all three is “yes,” the mobile user is more likely to call that company.  

According to the 2010 Morgan Stanley Internet Report, mobile will surpass personal computers as the most widely used Internet platform by 2015. Another recent study featured in Media Post revealed that mobile marketing may surpass traditional desktop online marketing in terms of effectiveness and audience. “From November 2007 to December 2010, mobile has posted better results than desktop online across key measures including aided and unaided awareness, ad awareness, message association, brand favorability and purchase intent. Mobile shows double or triple the percentage of online ad effectiveness in each of the metrics.”  

No doubt, the effectiveness of local search in the mobile space has much to do with the success of mobile websites. People who search on their mobile devices are often looking for something nearby, and companies who are optimizing their sites to be found locally are the clear winners.  

While these results are indicative of a market shifting to mobile, the desktop Internet sector is far from abandoned. The gap between mobile and desktop has actually decreased in the past year as a result of increased effectiveness in online marketing.  

Ad awareness rates, or the ability for consumers to match an ad to a brand, will likely continue to reveal the value of a mobile marketing place. “Increased awareness could stem from the rise in rich media advertising in mobile and the proliferation of smartphones, where high-impact interactive ads are targeted.” (Media Post).  

Companies need to continue to focus on optimizing their websites for search and engagement online. Desktop search isn’t going away anytime soon. They also need to be prepared for the mobile shift.  

Don’t have a mobile website yet? Maybe it should be your New Year’s resolution to get one.