Google Improving Mobile Ad Relevance

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Google has just announced improvements in mobile search advertising. (See the Google Blog post for more information.) Apps that incorporate search capabilities will see more relevant ads appearing on their screens.

To date, mobile ads appearing on smartphones have not been particularly relevant to the nature of the apps displaying them. In contrast, desktop search ads are highly relevant to the search terms used. So, for example, if I'm searching for information on bicycles, I'll see ads related to this topic.

Making mobile ads more targeted should improve ad click through rates and improve user satisfaction.

If I'm searching on my smartphone for bicycles, I'll see ads related to bicycles, including information on bicycle shops near my current location.

Mobile Internet Users to Outnumber Wireline Users by 2015

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According to a new study by IDC, mobile internet access via smartphones and tablets will soon outpace wireline access via PCs and other fixed position devices. Mobile device use is growing rapidly and wireline use is expected to level off and then decline.

This is expected to alter the very nature of how the internet is used. Consider some characteristics of mobile devices that will contribute to this change:

  • Location sensing.
  • Touch screen.
  • Device mobility.
  • Always on status.
  • App centric user interface.

It looks like the shift from fixed to mobile devices may be every bit as significant as the historic shift from mainframes to PCs.

Marketing and Technology ... Not So Far Apart Any More

Certainly traditional media such as newspapers, TV, radio and magazines are still very important to marketing products and services. But the newer, high tech, internet driven media and tools are playing an ever increasing role. Consider:

And the list goes on. Some long for the 'good old days' as portrayed in the popular TV series Mad Men. Come up with a great angle on a product, buy a lot of space in paper media and watch the sales roll in. Technology was left up to the back room gnomes who would calculate results and play with budgets.

Today, technology is center stage in most marketing campaigns. There are, of course, challenges in the marriage of the two domains. Consider this list:

  • Finding the right balance between the new and the traditional.
  • Knowing how far to go with technology. Just like traditional media, it can get expensive.
  • Getting the traditional media folks to interact with the new media folks.
  • Not forgetting the importance of branding, positioning, images and other 'soft' elements when dealing with 'hard' technology.

So, how to deal with all this? Some thoughts:

  • Technology can be applied incrementally. Small scale at first to judge results, then a broader roll out.
  • Technology can provide a lot of detail about results and how it is working. It can be much more transparent than traditional media if reported correctly.
  • Technology can provide two way dialogues with the audience. This can be informative and allow adjustments as time passes.

A good example showing that today's audiences want both old and new media is the YouTube phenomenon. People like watching moving images. It's been around for 100 years. YouTube provides audiences a new element of control and interaction that enhances their experience.

Find ways to marry the two like that, and you're on your way to success. 

A New Paradigm in Public Relations

Just as it has in a growing number of industries, the Internet is transforming the field of public relations.

Here is some of what's happening:

  • The dividing line between marketing and PR is disappearing.
  • PR is providing more useful information for consumers.
  • New Internet focused PR companies are greatly lowering the cost of PR campaigns.
  • Internet based tools are making PR campaigns easier to develop and manage.
  • PR content is interacting with and feeding off of other content such as blogs, video, images, web sites and e-books.
  • It is becoming cost effective to focus PR campaigns on smaller, niche markets as well as big, broad markets.
  • Internet based PR is becoming a critical element in gaining search engine placement.

In short, an Internet based PR campaign is becoming an essential and growing part of selling products and services.  

Smartphone Apps for Android Tablets

There is speculation that an upcoming version of the Google Android platform (possibly 3.2) may have better options for displaying apps on tablets that are sized for smartphones.

Apps would have both stretch and zoom options. Zoom would be a new mode that would simulate a smartphone display and then fill the tablet screen with it.

The purpose is to give Android tablet users greater access to Android Market apps, the majority of which are designed for smartphone screens. Since smartphones greatly outnumber tablets, this seems to us to be a great idea. Some smartphone apps incorporate a mixture of screen size optimizations. For example, our QuickClick Locales series of apps use a smartphone sized screen for user query input and mapping function that is optimized for both smartphones and tablets. 


Smartphone App User Interface - Lessons from Websites

Apps are relatively new compared to websites.  There's a lot of hard earned knowledge about website user interfaces. It might be useful to take some lessons from websites and apply them to apps. Here are a few starters:
At a glance understanding.
People skim computer based interfaces, they don't read them like you would a book. It's important to get people's attention and convey meaning quickly. Use elements such as images and symbols in addition to text.
Obvious navigation.  
People want to know where they are as they pass through an application. Give them hints about where they are and how to move around easily.
Appealing graphic design (colors, placement, font,...).  
People have visceral reactions to the look and feel of what they see on a screen. You may not be able to judge a book by it's cover, but if the cover isn't appealing, the content may never be seen.
Important elements above the fold.  
Don't make people scroll to see critical information. Put the important elements on the first part of the screen to appear.
Importance of names, symbols, etc.

Naming and creating symbols for your app, tabs, sections is important as an aid in remembering where users have been and where they want to go.


Ranking Sticky Apps

Apple and Google are changing the way they rank apps in their markets. Although the exact formulas are kept secret, there is talk and news that they are moving away from basing rankings on downloads and now using a formula based on the "sticky-ness" of apps.

The sticky formula is based on the ratio daily active users to monthly active users. So just getting users to download an app no longer gets a high rating. Users need to actually use an app to move it up in the ratings. Seems to make sense. After all, they are called "users" not "downloaders." 

Cloud Computing and Smartphones

The news is full of stories about interest in and growth of cloud computing ... relying on services hosted on servers owned, operated and maintained by others. Some get nervous about having their information located in places they don't control. The growth of smartphones should, however, accelerate the move to cloud computing and gradually ameliorate those fears.

Relying on cloud computing with a smartphone, or tablet, isn't an option. It's all controlled "in the clouds." Faster and more reliable networks will also help. Over time, whether computing is done on your device or in the cloud should become a somewhat meaningless distinction.

Internet Advertising Revenues Show Strong Growth

PricewaterhouseCoopers released their Internet Advertising Revenue Report for 2010 (
Growth is strong at 15 percent year over year.
From the report:
"Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. totaled $7.45 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, an increase of 15 percent from the 2010 third quarter total of $6.46 billion, and an increase of 19 percent from the 2009 fourth quarter total of $6.26 billion. 2010 full year Internet advertising revenues totaled $26.0 billion, up 15 percent from the $22.7 billion reported in 2009. Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. totaled$7.45 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, an increase of 15 percent from the 2010 third quarter total of $6.46 billion, and an increase of 19 percent from the 2009 fourth quarter total of $6.26 billion. 2010 full year Internet advertising revenues totaled $26.0billion, up 15 percent from the $22.7 billion reported in 2009."
You can view a webinar on the report here: view the webinar