‘Search Starts Here’: Local Mobile Innovators Discuss Success & Best Practices

Three local mobile innovators participated in a great discussion this morning on their successes in the mobile space and offered valuable best practices recommendations for otherslooking to build opportunities in the area.

BIA/Kelsey analyst Mike Boland kicked off the session “The Local Mobile Ecosystem – Where are the dollars?” by highlighting the growing intersection of mobile and local. Boland noted Google data that 40% of searches conducted on mobile are local searches, compared to 20% of desktop searches. Clearly, this is key growth opportunity for our industry and our advertising clients.

Chris Folmar, director of Mobile Development at SuperMedia, made clear that “mobile is the medium of the immediate” and one that our industry needs to engage in or face failure. He discussed how mobile content is successful when it’s timely, relevant and actionable.

Folmer talked about monetizing mobile offerings in ways that don’t result in advertising that hinders the user experience. He stressed the importance of focusing on the end of the user experience – specifically, the phone call to a local business – to ensure that mobile is successful: he said the call wait time needs to be as short is possible or businesses will lose customers. He also highlighted how mobile is the first search platform that consumers use that they take with them to the cash register – creating an entirely new way for us to demonstrate the bridge from search to sale.

Folmar also referenced transformation of SuperMedia’s mobile offerings from a relatively outdated WAP mobile site to a comprehensive portfolio of mobile apps optimized for every major mobile platform. He showed how with each iteration of the company’s mobile innovation, SuperMedia drove more page views, unique visitors and calls. As we blogged here on Local Search Insider, Folmar’s efforts resulted in the prestigious MediaPost 2012 Appy Award.

David Kurtz, Vice President, Publisher Products, AT&T Interactive noted that with the dramatic shift of consumers to mobile, it is inevitable that ad dollars will follow. Kurtzsaid that the time spent on mobile versus the number of advertisements in the space is “completely out of whack.” As far as he is concerned, mobile will be the “first screen strategy” for advertisers in the near future.

Kurtz said it’s necessary not to simply repurpose web advertising models into mobile, since it’s a completely unique experience. He said that mobile is its own space in that it is always with the consumer, is highly personalized and is used in different contexts. He stressed that mobile content needs to be developed with a clear goal in mind, do one thing really well, and reflect a “less is more” approach. He said that companies need to better understand the effectiveness of mobile and how quickly purchases are made through the platform.

Krishna Pillai, COO and Founder, Convergent Mobile categorized our industry’s opportunities in mobile under three themes:

  • App Monetization: Create a great user experience from both business and publisher sides that has an efficient call to action and relevant search results.
  • Mobile Web: Determine a monetization model – subscription, ad-supported, pay per call or mobile commerce – that successfully targets people on the move and is fully integrated with online, social and SMS efforts.
  • SMS Marketing: Leverage either a subscription model based on keyword/message or call to action/pay per call that is bundled with online, social, as well as print, TV and radio.

Pillai made clear that mobile programs require a minimum 12-month contract since it takes time to build an opt-in database and must continue to support long-form advertising such as print. He said that pricing models, consumer awareness and mobile ad spending levels continue to be the key challenges facing companies building advertising opportunities in mobile.

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