The Future of Mobile Search

The great convergence continues apace with news that the number of Google searches via mobile devices have surpassed usage of Bing via computer in terms of pay-per-click traffic. The exponential growth of mobile search has been a given for most commentators for some time, with one whitepaper confirming an increase of 246% in mobile search traffic. But a recent study by Latitude Digital Marketing is the first clear evidence of the sector’s potential as a marketing platform.

The study also observes that despite Google mobile’s seemingly unstoppable advance on second place Yahoo, sluggish advertisers are ignoring its potential and costs per click remain 27% lower than computer-based search (which has actually shrunk 15% in the last year). With growth of 76% in clicks per quarter, the service is clearly an untapped seam in the search marketing goldmine.

Because the potential applications of mobile based search are so exciting, perhaps the neglect we’re seeing is actually simple fear of the unknown. With the rise of location-based search listings and the potential porting of Google’s instant service to mobile platforms, search through mobile is expected to grow whilst developing certain idiosyncrasies due to the strengths and weaknesses of portability.

Consider for instance that mobile devices are GPS enabled: location based search could theoretically become refined even further, and businesses you’re standing next to could naturally leap-frog others in the rankings, if Google chose to update their algorithm to take this into consideration. Meanwhile, even despite the ever impressive text prediction capabilities of high-end handsets, Google instant could be deployed to streamline difficult text-input.

Mobile advertising holds great potential in a more general sense. One recent study by the Internet Advertising Bureau found that respondents exposed to a combined home computer / mobile marketing push were 43% more like likely to recognise the campaign than those exposed solely to the home computer version. This crucially corresponded with a 150% higher click-through rate from those exposed to both aspects of the campaign. The evidence points towards a world where mobile isn’t just important as a marketing medium in its own right, but also as a supplementary medium.

Though mobile devices have enabled pub-quiz cheating for some time, it has taken a move towards high-resolution displays and capacitive touch-screen technology as well as the infrastructure improvements of 3G telephone masts and data inclusive mobile tariffs to fuel demand for mobile search and browsing. Phone users are now permitted to spend longer with faster devices which have ably removed the imperative for dedicated mobile versions of websites.

The growth of Google mobile in particular comes as no surprise when their share of the mobile hardware market has seen such impressive growth within the last year. Their Android platform has brought high-resolution, touch-capable devices into the hands of customers unable to afford buying into Apple’s ever impressive iPhone range, whilst sidestepping the sometimes instability problems of smartphones running Symbian and Blackberry OS. Even with Microsoft’s Bing-integrated Windows Mobile 7 platform imminently released into the wild, the future of Google mobile search looks particularly bright indeed.