Mobile phone subscriptions have grown and continue to grow at a staggering rate, globally. While low-end “feature phones” continue to penetrate developing economies, smartphones (or “high-end” mobile devices), are changing not only the way we communicate but the definition of mobile phones themselves. Smartphones are becoming personal devices that offer advanced computing ability and connectivity rather than just a reliable way to relay a message. The first true smartphone with an operating system was only made widely available in the last decade or so and came with a high price tag of often $500 or more. With the relatively recent release of the iphone and Android operating system, however, smartphones have become both widely available as well as affordable. This is quickly creating new opportunities for mobile advertising.
Smartphones have many of the same capabilities (and in some cases, like that of Google Goggles, even more) as desktop and laptop computers. Users are engaging in web browsing, an increasing amount of mobile apps, videos, games and more. Phones running complete operating systems that are portable enough to take just about anywhere are actually changing the way we search all together. They are used increasingly for local searches and aid in consumer purchasing decisions. They are almost always on and nearby including while driving and at restaurants and stores. At the current rate, mobile internet usage may equal or even surpass desktop internet usage in the coming years.
Though still estimated to be less than 15% of total search volume, mobile use is expected to continue to grow rapidly. According to Google, the amount of searches on phones with full internet browsers has increased by 4 times in the last year alone and the amount of people who own a smartphone has as much as doubled. This offers a tremendous opportunity for advertisers to engage users.
There are already several ways in which advertisers can use mobile as a platform to reach customers whether they want to drive traffic to their site, drive traffic to their store, receive phone calls or even promote apps or brand awareness. Among these are text and banner ads within mobile search and display networks, rich media ads, mYoutube campaigns, click to downloads, tablet ads and many of the other extras currently made available for desktop ads (such as click to call, sitelinks, location extensions with multiple addresses, seller rating extensions, and offer ads). Advertisers can also ensure that their websites are mobile ready by rewriting their page in a mobile markup language or ensuring their desktop pages render properly on mobile screens.
Google recently uploaded a video highlighting some of the possibilities of mobile search: