'The future of digital', by Google UK head

Google UK head of mobile advertising, Simon Morgan, considers the most significant developments in the field of m-commerce and crunches the mobile numbers.

Over the past year we've seen smartphones overtake PC sales for the first time. The number of people on the mobile web globally has doubled, reaching one billion, and in the UK there are now 20 million mobile internet users. If we think of search as being a barometer of consumer interest, in just 12 months there has been a huge shift.

The finance, retail, travel and entertainment industries have seen their percentage of search queries coming from mobile entering double figures. In the financial sector we are seeing 12 per cent of all financial queries coming through mobile. There are currently one million active mobile banking users in the UK and that number is growing rapidly. Another fast-growing trend is mobile offers, loyalty and couponing. Searches for coupons from mobile devices have grown 800 per cent year on year.

In retail in 2010 only 4 per cent of all queries were coming through mobile; this year it's 13 per cent. Our research shows that 24 per cent of consumers are using smartphones to make in-store comparisons. They are also using phones to carry out on-the-spot reviews, checking-in to stores and telling friends about it.

Consumers are not just using phones to compare. They're using them throughout the buying cycle. 28 per cent use them at the start of the purchase consideration funnel for 'inspiration' and 15 per cent use it in the middle for 'evaluation'.

Travel has seen the biggest jump from 4 per cent last year to 14 per cent this year. Travel as a whole lends itself to the mobile platform, so it's no surprise we're seeing these results. Our latest case study from IHG demonstrates how one travel business used mobile to its full potential and got some great learnings.

IHG wanted to learn about their mobile user - whether they were using apps or the mobile web. They set up two campaigns to test both. They discovered that app-users were the loyalists whereas the mobile web users (searchers) were mainly new customers.

That's a trend we're seeing across the board - apps are great for branding and retention but the mobile web is great for generating new leads. IHG saw a 91 per cent increase in mobile revenue year on year which is fantastic.

Mobile phones are also a key source of entertainment as shown by the 200 million views on YouTube mobile globally in the past year. We are also becoming addicted to gaming apps. Proof is the 125 years of Angry Birds played every single day!

With so many people connecting to the internet via a mobile phone, it's staggering to think that only 17 per cent of advertisers today have a mobile optimised site. For businesses this is the single largest barrier between them and the mobile user. With 28 per cent of users purchasing products from their smartphones, the time is now to build your mobile destination.

My advice for marketers would be -- take action. It's time stop thinking and start 'doing' mobile. Marketers need to develop a mobile strategy and integrate this into their media mix. Remember, every one of your desktop users is a mobile user too. Also, bear in mind that 53 per cent of us are dual screening. Secondly, build your mobile destination and connect with your users. Mobile users want it quickly and easily -- it's the marketer's job to make it so.

My last words of advice would be to refine and iterate with data. Whether it's in Adwords or through analytics, this is invaluable information that you can use and apply to everything from developing a strategy to building a mobile destination, to connecting with your users.

Simon Morgan is Google UK head of mobile advertising and will be speaking at the ad:tech London conference.
 

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