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.

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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).

Guiding the Predictive Insights, Technology, Education, 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.

Chris was selected to lead GroupM Next after nine years of leading the search marketing practice within GroupM. Among his accomplishments include the development and integration of the global search marketing offering for GroupM agencies, GroupM Search, which manages $1.3 billion in search billings globally and has grown to more than 1,000 search marketing strategists serving 40 countries.

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 contributes editorial commentary regularly to Advertising Age, ClickZ, MediaPost, and MediaBizBloggers.com.

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