The Explosion of the Middle Web – a.k.a. Smartphone Internet Use



The middle web is that new playground between highly limited mobile phone internet use and full blown computer internet use via high speed access; and is made possible by a range of new hand held facilitators including the iPhone. Not that new admittedly, but in terms of time in the US 2 years is not long (release of Blackberry), and the iPhone was first released in the US in June ’07.


According to mobile advertising company AdMob, traffic from Apple’s iPhone on their advertising network almost doubled in August, and the iPhone saw the fastest growth of all smartphones worldwide, closely followed by the Samsung Instinct (some dispute the ‘smartphone’ status of the Instinct – I’m just not that smart, no pun intended.) In fact, users of the iPhone ended August with more than 2.9 million mobile Web page requests per day.


SO… what’s with mobile search marketing then? In terms of pure numbers very few companies are embracing mobile search as a legitimate advertising platform. I can’t help but wonder why – especially considering predictions of in excess of $3BN this year in mobile ad spend, and more than 14 million phones sold – very confusing…


·         It’s not hard to design a corporate branded .mobi site – or even easier – dedicated single landing pages for mobile PPC initiatives.


·         It’s not hard to make sensible mobile PPC ads with 18 characters per line.


·         It’s not hard to cost effectively alter an existing banner ad for mobile ad display through AdWords (or other platforms)


·         Analytics are pretty good, and getting better


·         Historic data indicates that even then more than 46 million mobile users used mobile search functions in Q3 last year according to Nielsen, that figure has nearly doubled.


Perhaps search behavior is different on mobiles, perhaps not so much. There are numerous studies underway and the data gives every indication of being both ground-breaking and very interesting.


I honestly believe that if your client is even remotely geotargeted in their offering, and if they provide any form of local service, including entertainment, home services, hospitality, health, pet care, or are involved in the sale of products from geographically limited locations, they should get involved in mobile PPC geo-targeting to an appropriate level, and give it a test drive. It is possible to use multipliers or other statistical formulae to run comparative tests on traditional PPC vs mobile PPC campaigns, bearing in mind the fact that your markets may or may not overlap – but you should be able to compare ROI and other KPI.


I actually think that anyone participating in PPC should run a trial PPC initiative on mobile PPC, even if it is simply based on a highly geo-targeted test market. If it works, the mobile world becomes a whole new oyster of its own… Why miss it? Run it on AdWords with strict constraints on spend and display. You can turn it off any time, you can check data whenever you like. Just make sure you allow for a reasonable period of time to make an informed decision without running scared.


Some iPhone wireless networks are free, enabling iPhone users to connect at no charge – don’t be frightened. Find out more about the medium, the advertising options, free connection areas, the set up costs and resources required to initiate a trial campaign, and give it a try that provides you with statistically significant data. Run it over 3 separate periods of time, A/B test your ads and landing pages… go to it with enthusiasm assuming you will be pleasantly surprised. If it doesn’t work, you won’t have lost much, but you will have gained enormous insights into another new market and medium, hopefully for the better.


Mobile phones are here to stay in the world as we know it, mobile use is increasing; the middle web is exhibiting a very fast growth rate, outpacing growth of traditional internet adoption (which is not surprising). People are using mobile search functionality, especially on the new generation of smartphones…


The Point?


Adapt. Adopt. Be proactive. Investigate, explore and seriously consider

mobile search marketing as a potential addition to your marketing mix!






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