Mobile Websites Pro: Forbes: Robert Hof, Contributor
As people do more and more of their online activities on smartphones and tablets, Google wants them to see its ads on those screens too. Problem is, marketers have been relatively slow to move to mobile.
So today, Google is launching a renewed initiative to walk marketers through the best ways to reach people when they’re staring at a device in their hand rather than on their lap or desk. The Mobile Playbook, subtitled “The Busy Executive’s Guide to Winning with Mobile,” is being released today along with a video broadcast at noon Pacific today with several marketers and agencies relating their success in mobile initiatives.
As you might surmise from that title, this isn’t for folks down in the ad tech trenches. Much of the advice, which ranges from the need to understand why mobile matters to building mobile-optimized websites, will seem obvious to many people.
But not, apparently, to executives who must make mobile a priority and staff it sufficiently to reach people when they’re out and about. Jason Spero, head of Google’s global mobile sales and strategy who came to the company with its 2010 acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob, says that’s obvious from one stark fact: Some 62% of Google’s largest advertisers don’t have websites made for mobile devices. “It’s a really bad brand experience,” he said in an interview.
And by extension, that’s bad for Google. Google isn’t exactly hurting for mobile ads. It’s in the clear lead and its mobile ad revenues are growing quickly. But its drive to get marketers to focus more on mobile certainly isn’t altruistic. Mobile ads are less lucrative, drawing lower prices per click than desktop ads, so analysts have been worried that the growth of mobile ads could stunt Google’s profitability.
But the more marketers make mobile ads a priority, the more competition there will be for what is, after all, limited ad space on mobile devices will grow–and the higher prices Google should be able to command.
Google can’t complain too much about marketers not moving their pitches to mobile devices faster, because the company itself has only recently embraced the new world of mobile. “My first job was to be a cheerleader, saying we need to pay attention to mobile,” says Spero. “Google knew it was important. But we and our customers didn’t know what to do with mobile.”
So early last year, he says, Google turned to figuring out what works best on mobile devices. For one, Spero says, companies need to set up separate organizations to focus on mobile. The key reason: When it comes to commercially oriented search queries, people are using smartphones and tablets differently from desktops and laptops.
In particular, with smartphones at least, they are often near stores and checking prices or availability, so they need to get different kinds of ads that are localized, more personalized, and even more driven by immediate needs to purchase, find directions, and the like.
Problem is, says Spero, digital marketing managers at retailers, for instance, are often compensated based on digital purchases. So they don’t get credit for in-store purchases driven by mobile ads. Thus, they’re not incented to focus on mobile. That, Spero says, can be remedied only with a specific group inside marketers and ad agencies focused on mobile.
Marketers also need to understand that mobile devices themselves have different kinds of uses. Some 80% of traffic from tablets happens between 8 and 10 p.m. local time, Spero says, clearly showing that tablets are used while watching TV on the couch. Ads tailored to people using smartphones, who are more on the go, won’t work well for tablets. “You want people to have a built-for-mobile path for tablets and a built-for-mobile path for smartphones,” says Spero.
Not least, marketers must realize that apps and mobile websites serve different kinds of customers. “Apps are for your best customers,” says Spero, because they’re usually installed only by people who are already fans of a company. Mobile websites are for a broader customer base, in particular for acquiring new customers.