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Mobile Search Marketing for BRIC -- Country by Country

Christian Arno
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In "Mobile Search in BRIC: Tips and Tricks" we looked at the different strategies required to effectively take advantage of the possibilities offered by search marketing for web-enabled mobile phone handsets, which have already outstripped desktop, laptop, and tablet computers in the emerging BRIC economies.

Now let's break down the BRIC mobile markets country by country.

Brazil

An eMarketer report estimates that there will be more than 200 million mobile subscribers in Brazil by 2014.

Brazil has one of the largest populations of mobile phone users in the world, and mobile Internet access is on the increase as the necessary infrastructure is put in place and prices drop for both phones and services.

With only a quarter of Brazilian households hooked up to fixed broadband, mobile Internet seems poised to connect many more to the net. Google has already reported a 500 percent increase in mobile search traffic in Brazil over the past couple of years.

The majority of users have pre-paid Internet services and most of the current growth is from WAP phones as opposed to smartphones, although these are also on the increase.

The most popular online community by a landslide 80 percent market share is Google's Orkut, while last year Brazilians had the highest rates of Twitter participation in the world. Suffice to say that any marketing campaign for Brazil would do well to target Orkut and Twitter.

Brazilian app developers are already taking advantage of mobile advertising, and seeing great returns on their efforts.

Russia

Like Brazil, Russia is estimated to reach over 200 million mobile subscribers by 2014, but unlike Brazil, Google (surprisingly) isn't the dominant search provider. Local search engine Yandex has a 62 percent market share, largely because they handle the complicated Russian language better.

Smartphones are proliferating in Russia, with predictions that they'll command 50 percent of the mobile market in the not too distant future. In addition, mobile manufacturer HTC recently launched a new smartphone for the Russian market with built-in Yandex search.

Yandex reports that roughly 10 percent of its general search volume now comes from mobile devices, and this percentage is growing monthly. Meanwhile, click rates on PPC ads accessed via mobile devices are nearly 40 percent higher than click rates from desktop devices -- perhaps due to the smaller screens, meaning users are less likely to scroll down before clicking through.

Web access isn't evenly distributed across the Russian population, however. While Moscow shows 97 percent of the 18-24 age group is connected, that's only 20 percent for over 55s, and accessibility drops dramatically outside the big cities.

India

Only 7 percent of Indians are connected to the Internet (compared to 44 percent in Russia) and fewer than 1 percent access the net on their phones. However, we're talking about a staggering population of 1.21 billion people, and eMarketer anticipates 853 million mobile subscribers in India by 2014.

A recent study by McKinsey&Company asks if India can lead the mobile Internet revolution. McKinsey certainly seems to believe so, with predictions that India's 81 million web users will increase more than fivefold to reach 450 million by 2015, and that three out of four users will be connected through mobile Internet. That's potentially 340 million mobile Internet users by 2015.

Indian consumers already use a lot of digital content through offline channels, so at the right price mobile Internet seems ready to take off on the Indian consumer market. And smartphones are expected to drop in price. In addition, innovative rate plans are being developed to make payments easier and more culturally appropriate.

Furthermore, McKinsey predicts that total digital content consumption will double to as much as $9.5 billion. Including access charges, revenues from total digital consumption could rise fourfold, to $20 billion, which is twice the expected growth rate of China.

China

In China, mobile subscribers are expected to reach 1.3 billion by 2014, including 957 million mobile Internet users. Consider that there were more people accessing the web on mobiles in China in 2010 than there were people in total in the U.S. -- this should go some way to convincing you that it's a market worth targeting.

China has the highest advertising spending among the BRIC countries' mobile subscribers and Internet users, totaling $223.2 million in 2010 and expected to triple to $699.9 million in 2012. As mobile subscriber rates begin to level out, China's mobile Internet use is rapidly increasing.

Baidu comfortably controls the search engine market in China, with its 75 percent market share (Google is in second place with just over 20 percent), although a new government-owned search engine just launched in February.

Formed in cooperation between Xinhua News Agency and China Mobile, Panguso.com is designed to cater to mobile Internet users. China Mobile is the country's largest mobile supplier (with nearly 590 million customers) so this may be something to keep an eye on over the next few years. Even though Baidu dominates the country's search engine market, the mobile search niche may be more open to competitors.


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