5 Trends to Watch in the Mobile-First Search Era

New figures from eMarketer reflect the growing mobile momentum with estimates that mobile advertising spend will be double that of desktop by 2017, and by 2019, mobile will account for 72 percent of total digital ad spend.

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This should come as no surprise as mobile is topping list of where consumers are spending their time. Late last year, comScore reported that 60 percent of time online is spent on mobile, the majority of activity happening within apps.

Shifting audience behavior is dictating a refocusing of search strategy. Early this year, I wrote that 2015 should be considered “the year of the consumer,” and as it stands, the modern consumer demands a mobile-first strategy.

In this forward-thinking mobile world, let’s look ahead to the five key mobile trends to watch.

1. Google’s Emphasis on Mobile Friendliness

Mobile search rankings are about to get a bit friendlier. On April 21, Google will be expanding its ranking signals to account for mobile friendliness. While there’s been no indication of responsive design being valued over mobile-specific sites, it’s clear that for marketers who have neither, the time is nigh to make a move. Weigh the pros and cons of your mobile-friendliness approach – and play nice, as Google says this change will have a “significant impact” on search results.

2. Bing’s Mobile Moves

Starting March 23, Bing ads rolled out an upgrade to Unified Device Targeting. Just like Google’s shift to Enhanced Campaigns, this Bing update will mean campaigns will target all devices by default. If there’s any lesson we learned the first time around it’s to stay active in monitoring and optimizing your bid adjustments accordingly.

Beyond device targeting, Bing has also indicated the forthcoming introduction of mobile app extensions to help marketers drive further discovery and installs in the vast app marketplace.

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3. The App Explosion

Speaking of apps, discovery is only one part of the game. To really benefit, you must have the tools in place to measure and track beyond the install. This is how you’ll be able to grow customer lifetime value in the mobile era.

The sheer number of available apps is creating fragmentation in the market, even when it comes to search activity. Today’s mobile consumer seeks speed and convenience and specialty apps that cater to specific needs (think Yelp) are the thing to watch. Yahoo is also trying to capitalize off in-app activity by offering its own SDK to integrate Yahoo Search within apps.

4. The Native Play

The mobile format, with its infinite scroll, is highly conducive for a seamless integration of in-stream advertising. Not only does native represent a contextually friendly and engaging experience but it also seems to sparkle with inventory possibilities in an otherwise limited mobile search-scape.

As mobile and native merge, look no further than Yahoo Gemini, a one-stop shop for mobile search and native advertising.

5. The Intrinsic Connection of Mobile and Local

We can’t talk about mobile-first without mentioning the implication for local search as well. Recent research from the Local Search Association found that the majority of U.S. adults turn to mobile when searching for locally focused information.

When thinking local-mobile, of course there are the relevant extensions – location and click to call – but it’s more than just that. There are designated call-only campaigns, local inventory on Google Shopping, and opportunities with apps. These capabilities and opportunities are growing and strengthening.

Having a mobile presence can no longer be seen as a competitive advantage for an advertiser but rather serve as a marketing staple. Now more than ever, it pays to be an agile marketer who can embrace the mobile mindset.

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