Mobile Search: Apps and Opportunities at SMX Toronto 2010

Smart phone penetration is expected to overtake feature phone penetration by the end of 2011. Well, in this session at SMX Toronto, panelists explored what kind of mobile search opportunities exist currently, or will exist in the very near future.

The most interesting part of this session was the stats being thrown around, and most of those were provided by one panelist. After the stats component, the conversation between panelist became a little less focused, but nonetheless interesting because the panelist were offering some thoughts on what brands should be considering before they make the leap into mobile marketing.

Moderator: Sionne Roberts, General Manager, Visability (A division of IT World Canada)

  • Warren Raisch, Digitaria
  • Christopher Berry, Syncapse
  • Marcus Anderson, Broadplay

Warren Raisch on Mobile App Opportunities

The opportunity with mobile is to deliver a permission based, targeted, and easy to use branded promotion to millions of consumers via their mobile devices. The only question that remains is how to implement and deploy that platform.

If you look at the global market, there are more mobile devices in circulation than TVs and computers combined. In the US alone, for example, mobile penetration has surpassed cable TV, web access, and Home PCs. And over 20% of US households are wireless only.

The mobile is social. It offers perpetual connectivity to social circles. Mobiles also offer a component of personal identity — e.g. ringtones, designer phones, etc. Over 80% of 18-29 year olds use SMS, and 38% of people say that mobile is more imporatnt than their wallet. In sum, mobile phones have become an integral component to our social lives, so mobile offers a much more integrated channel than any other medium.

Over 3 billion apps downloaded from Apple’s App Store in the first 18 months. Eric Schmidt has gone on record to say that Google believes mobile ad revenue will surpass traditional search advertising. So it seems that innovation on these devices will be rapid and capabilities will surpass PCs.

Mobile web consumers are more like “hunters” than “browsers,” so information and utility are paramount for user engagement via mobile. And meeting this “hunter” demand is done through apps, not mobile sites, because apps offer users that instant access to information and utility.

There are several components to the future of direct marketing, and so far they are showing 5-8 times the redemption rate of PC based web use:

  • text for offer codes
  • link to mobile webistes
  • mobile search location based
  • free 411 info
  • consumer loyalty opt-ins
  • mobile giving
  • green – paper free

Wap vs App: The one that’s best for you depends on the content you’re dealing with and your budget; whereas wap is cheaper and offers quantity over quality, apps are more suited to brand engagement and user retention.

Marcus Anderson on Mobile App Opportunities

As per hunter vs browser, the person is looking for something they are aware they are looking to find. It’s not an entertainment experience, it’s an experience that needs to provide relevant information in a timely fashion. The mobile search results need to let mobile users act upon the information they find, and on a retail level. For instance, when a user comes into a retail space, retailers are going to have to provide an experience that can be tracked and measured, and generate a sale as well.

Wap vs App: You have to consider the audience that you’re trying to reach, and their level of sophistication. You also have to consider the kind of content you’re trying to push out through mobile channels.

Christopher Berry on Mobile App Opportunities

There is an underlying shift in which device we use at home to consume media from different channels. Much of what we used to do with our desktop and laptop, we’re now doing with our mobiles because mobile is just more appropriate for consuming certain social and geo content.

Wapp vs App: When it comes to cost, apps are not necessarily expensive to develop.

QR Codes: These will really offer brands many creative ways to engage consumers and possibly convert them in some way.

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