Mobile search is indisputably a potent way to generate value. Consumers find what they want, marketers gain traffic by providing relevant offers and advertising, and mobile operators and service providers capture more revenue from increased mobile content purchases. The industry isn?t there yet, but the last months have seen a quantum step in this direction. Eric McCabe, VP of Marketing at JumpTap, a search engine provider, tells me his company is working with marketers and Search Engine Marketing companies to build a mobile-specific advertising inventory for operators. The company is also building a mobile search index. ?There needs to be an interface for advertisers to come in and begin to bid for those key words and deliver relevant advertising to searchers.? Other mobile search providers are jockeying to provide similar capabilities. Why? Because the combination of mobile search (particularly personalized search, which can because it can pick up on clues users leave behind such as their preferences, click patterns and download history) and mobile advertising will be transformational. But don?t just take my word for it. Tom Burgess, CEO of Third Screen, the largest mobile ad network, believes the menu of mobile behavioral, and other targeting options, is about to expand dramatically ? thanks in part to mobile search.
In his interview with Behavioral Insider, Burgess points out that a change in mindset on the part of mobile operators is changing the rules of mobile advertising forever. ??For the first time [there?s] data about exactly where and how mobile users are spending their time, information carriers have had but never aggregated in advertiser-friendly form. If you?re tracking by unique user ID, you now know when and where you?re reaching a specific consumer, so can begin to use frequency caps so advertisers can better target timing and avoid extraneous placements.? He reports that two major carriers are implementing platforms to do just this ?as early as next quarter.?
Mobile search: The missing link? In Burgess? view, people won?t use mobile search to browse as they do on the Web. ?It?s more of an on-the-fly experience, where they want something very specific right now. We expect tier-one carriers to work out deals with search providers to introduce search capability and features to enhance customer experience and increase content relevancy.? And it won?t just be the usual suspects (Google, Yahoo or MSN).
?There are upstarts out there, who are specializing in this niche space, who may become the big names of 2008. InfoSpace has been working on some interesting innovations specifically for search in a mobile environment. And Medio Systems has developed search applications that eliminate linking?and instead return personalized answers to queries based on subscriber preference, location, device and other criteria. Because mobile users by definition are on the move, they want and need more immediately relevant and actionable information, which will create very robust targeting opportunities.?
Metrics matter: What will campaigns based on deep insight into the user deliver? ?I don?t expect we?ll be able to say user 123 makes x amount of money and is 34 years old. But by identifying user 123 by zip code, carrier and device type, you take a big step in homing in on a particular demographic range, and building a consumer profile combining demographic and behavioral info by device type and carrier. Advertisers are already becoming increasingly interested in tracking the impact of their campaigns by device and carrier. With brands now executing six-figure campaigns, they want to develop more customized metrics. Of course, to make this work without upsetting users, operators and advertisers will commit to a ?more opt-in-oriented model, where it?s transparent to consumers how their data will be used.? Burgess says this is the aim of players in the mobile industry ? and the efforts will deliver results in the form of ?some high-profile initiatives [scheduled to be] launched by about the middle of next year.?