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Google: Mobile search to play important role in holiday shopping

Google projects that 44 percent of total searches for last-minute gifts and store locator terms will take place via mobile devices this coming holiday season.

Mobile searches spike in the week before Thanksgiving and before Christmas, according to Google. The number of searches taking place via mobile also continued their upward trajectory following last year’s holiday season and continues to increase as smarpthone penetration grows.

“There are more mobile devices being activated every day than ever before,” said Sonja Lee, product marketing manager for mobile ads at Google, Mountain View, CA.

“We expect that mobile activity will continue to grow significantly as we enter into holiday season 2011,” she said.

“It is incredibly important that businesses are present on mobile – it is where your customers will be this holiday season.”

Mobile sites lacking
The title of the presentation where Google gave its holiday mobile predictions was “From Why to How?: Mobile Advertising Strategies for your Business.”

Google’s research shows that number of queries via mobile grew nearly three times from 2009 to 2011 and continues to escalate.

Despite the growth in mobile, 79 percent of Google’s largest advertisers still do not have a mobile site.

The lack of a mobile presence can impact retailers’ bottom line.

Google reports that 61 percent of users who experience frustration with a brand site that is not optimized for mobile are unlikely to return.

Additionally, 40 percent will visit a competitor’s site.

The presentation focused on some of the strategies advertisers need to get their business mobilized.

When developing a mobile site, it is important to have clear goals, review any available analytics to see how mobile visitors are currently interacting with a site, keep the design simple and prioritize which content needs to be available in mobile.

“Are your mobile customers in a hurry when they are searching for you? This will affect the design of your site and type of you make available,” Ms. Lee said.

It is also important to separate mobile campaigns from desktop.

Google reports there is an 11.5 percent increase in click through rates when advertisers run separate campaigns on mobile and desktop.

This means setting daily budgets and bids specific for mobile, with an eye towards bidding for the number one and two positions in mobile because of the smaller screen size.

“Start by increasing your mobile bids to two times your desktop bids,” Ms. Lee said.

Mobile specific ads should also have calls to action targeted at mobile users, such as “Browse our catalog from your tablet” or “Download our mobile app.”

For local traffic, the call to action could be “Visit our store today” or “Checkout in-store offers.” This can help encourage in-store traffic.

“Just like on desktop, suggest clear actions,” Ms. Lee said.

Think locally
Google reports that one out of three searches on Google mobile have some sort of local intent.

“Mobile is a much more an extension of your day-to-day life, with customers using mobile throughout the day and in all situations,” Ms. Lee said.

Additionally, 61 percent of user who have looked up a local business on their smartphone have called that business and 59 percent have visited it.

Mobile can also drive in-store activity, with 65 percent of smartphone users who have used their phone to find a nearby business also making a purchase.

When incorporating a local spend into mobile advertising, it is important to clearly identify how a user can benefit from paying a visit to the local store.

For businesses with a physical location, it is important to include a map to the store and information about how far away someone is.

“Mobile consumers are much more ready to go and take action in the physical world,” Ms. Lee said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York