Why Retailers' 'Ho Ho Ho' May Be an "Oh, No!" Without Mobile SEO

  |  September 13, 2011   |  Comments

For marketers to make the most of the holiday season, it is important to produce a compelling response via an optimized mobile experience.

Last week, Google released via a blog post data around its expectations for the holiday season as it pertains to mobile device usage. The numbers represent a potentially massive shift in consumer behavior as it relates to usage of devices and could signal deep trouble for many marketers.

The eye-popping numbers come largely in the form of two data points. First, 15 percent of all Black Friday searches will be done via mobile devices. Second, for retailers who live or die by the ability to convert large numbers as the days wind down, 44 percent of total searches for last minute gifts and store locators will come from mobile. These numbers align with a year of statistics that clearly show a shift of usage from the desktop to the mobile device, tablets included.

But that's where things get a little sticky for many advertisers. As recently as February, Google stated that 79 percent of its advertising base did not offer an optimized mobile experience. Unless that number has gone down considerably, that could spell trouble for shoppers who rely on online-exclusive campaigns or use standard sites in place of a true mobile experience. Additionally, for advertisers who do have a proper mobile presence, the tried and true method of throwing paid media dollars at the opportunity may not work as well this time around.

In soon-to-be-released research from my company, studying the influence of search on purchase behavior and the influence that mobile has on shopping decisions were measured. Of importance to these data points from Google was the finding that while one in five shoppers used the mobile device, they almost universally acknowledged having no recall of paid search advertising. With one top of screen listing, the competition will be fierce, especially with Google feeding out these points.

For marketers to make the most of the holiday season, it is important for them to produce a compelling response via an optimized mobile experience, but that optimization must include mobile SEO. So much of what people will seek is tied to ideas and not specific products or store locators; therefore, brands must think about how they will create and optimize those elements for success. The search data from my company suggests that consumers are not only looking for store locators, as supported by the Google data, but also looking for consumer review and store-specific information. Those are two crucial areas that take extra work.

It's hard to say if it's too late for some marketers to mobilize mobile in time for the upcoming holiday season. But, for those that don't, the proverbial stocking full of coal may await.



Chris Copeland

Chris Copeland is chief executive officer of GroupM Next, the forward-looking media innovation unit of GroupM. Chris is responsible for curating and communicating insight-focused media solutions across established and emerging platforms. Leveraging his multi-year experience with emerging media companies, Chris is tasked with stewarding GroupM Next in partnership with agency leadership from GroupM's four media marketing and marketing service agencies (Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare). The focus is participating with those companies leading changes that most impact consumer media consumption, brand favorability, and purchase behavior.

Guiding the Predictive Insights, Technology, Research, and Communications teams at GroupM Next, Chris is responsible for overseeing the amplification of insights into opportunities that directly benefit the business of GroupM agencies and their clients. GroupM is the world's largest media investment management group and the media holding arm of WPP. Together, GroupM agencies represent almost $30 billion in overall North American billings (RECMA).

Chris helped guide the development of GroupM Next, which was established to deliver the best thinking and new insights from within the GroupM community. The unit also focuses on technology innovation connecting all media channels, but especially, online, social, mobile, and addressable.

Chris was selected to lead GroupM Next after nine years of leading the search marketing practice within GroupM. Among his accomplishments are the development and integration of the global search marketing offering for GroupM agencies, GroupM Search, which managed $1.3 billion in search billings globally and grew to more than 1,000 search marketing strategists serving 40 countries. In 2009, Chris created the research division of GroupM Search and developed research studies that deepened the understanding of consumer behavior across search and social media for leading brands and garnered global traction - most notably: The Influenced: Social Media, Search, and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption; The Virtuous Circle: The Role of Social Media in the Purchase Pathway;and From Intent to In-Store: Search's Role in the New Retail Shopper Profile.

Chris entered the digital industry in 1996 when he joined search marketing agency WGI (later acquired by Tempus Group). He has been with the WPP and GroupM family of companies since 2000 when, recognizing search as an emerging media channel with incredible potential for brands, WPP acquired Tempus Group and CIA, and ultimately rebranded the search marketing agency as Outrider. As senior partner and managing director of Outrider, Chris delivered on GroupM's vision for the channel, leading the organization to 500 percent growth with global presence over five years, and establishing award-winning search marketing strategies that have become industry-wide best practices. In 2002, Chris successfully implemented the integration of search into the cross-channel media planning process at MEC, creating the first search marketing practice to sit within a media communications and planning company. In 2007, he guided the business expansion of search marketing practices into all GroupM agencies. In 2009, Chris was named CEO of GroupM Search, where he was responsible for driving global search strategy for the organization, while fostering the innovative application of search as an integrated channel. In his role, Chris also provided digital strategy counsel for clients, including AT&T, Dell, Audi, Volkswagen, and more.

Chris is an active member on advisory boards at the 4A's, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and I-COM. He is a frequent speaker in global forums discussing the digital marketplace and how the space is evolving, and serves as a regular resource to national and industry press. Chris contributes editorial commentary regularly to Advertising Age, ClickZ, MediaPost, and MediaBizBloggers.com. In fall 2013, Chris was honored as an inductee into the ClickZ Digital Hall of Fame.

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