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Mobile Search in BRIC: Tips and Tricks

Christian Arno
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While global desktop searches fell by 15 percent last year, mobile searches grew by 247 percent, this Tamar White Paper shows. Meanwhile, this report by Ernst & Young suggests that mobile subscribers in BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have surpassed users of broadband, Internet and television combined.

Mobile phones are comparatively cheap, even web-enabled phones, and with the rapid expansion of wireless availability around the world, people who can't afford a computer and broadband connection can now access the web as effectively as anyone else.

Consumers in the BRIC countries appear to be leapfrogging the PC and moving straight on to simpler and more affordable mobile web access. For search marketers, this means that if you want to take advantage of the rapidly increasing economic power of BRIC consumers, you'll need to adapt your search marketing strategy for these mobile-friendly markets.

It's important to remember that, despite the staggering numbers, a large majority of mobile Internet consumers in these countries are still on quite unsophisticated mobile devices with prepay contracts, and mobile search marketing needs to consider this.

Furthermore, you need to take into account the inherent physical traits of web searching on handset devices. With much smaller screens, users are more likely to click on the top search results, rather than scrolling down -- they also view less pages per web surfing session, presumably to save on data costs and download times.

In the same vein, make sure that any downloadable content on mobile-specific sites is kept to a small file size so users can access it.

Research has shown that wireless web users demonstrate a higher rate of PPC ad click-throughs, indicating that PPC spend for mobile will bring better results than for desktops. Other evidence indicates that mobile video ads get solid click-through rates (the entertainment factor perhaps being the clincher, here).

However, mobile users also spend less time on each site -- only 33 percent of visitors make it past the first page. This would indicate that not only is it crucial to be up the top of the search results, but you also need to get straight to the point, with your conversion tools on the landing page.

Google has suggested a few more ground rules for advertisers embarking on mobile search marketing:

  • Separate mobile campaigns are the first step to reaching people on mobile phones. This allows you to make better use of mobile-specific ad features.
  • Optimize your landing page experience by creating a separate mobile landing page or ensuring that your desktop landing page works for the mobile screen. Also, consider optimizing your landing pages for a range of mobile devices.
  • WAP mobile search ads will help you to reach the largest consumer audience.

For international mobile search, it goes without saying that you will need to ensure your content is correctly translated and localized for its target audience -- but also make sure your search campaign targets the appropriate search engine for that country, and keep in mind that mobile Internet users still tend to be overwhelmingly young and urban.

Working in your favor is the fact that mobile advertising benefits local companies (or effectively localized companies), because many searches are likely to revolve around local specific phrases, as people search in their near vicinity for goods and services. As such, it's essential that you make use of Google Maps (or your relevant search engines') facility for optimizing your Maps listings.

Effective mobile search marketing requires an entirely different approach to traditional desktop search marketing. But if you invest the time and effort, especially for emerging economies such as BRIC, where mobile is by far the most popular mode of web access (400 million subscribers in both Brazil and Russia, 853 million in India and around one billion in China!), the pay-off stands to be considerable.


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