Mystified about mobile? Here’s how we see the opportunity

The role that mobile devices play in consumers’ everyday decision making process is unequivocal, however the media industry has yet to crack the nut of understanding how best to engage with consumers on them. After all, according to the IAB, only 42 per cent of businesses are using smartphones to currently reach their audiences.

Whilst it is true that PC traffic still converts better in the search advertising space, we are living in a mobile-first world, and for advertisers, mobile presents a truly unique opportunity. Mobile is the realm of personalisation.

Consumers are constantly on the move – in and out of work – and have now come to expect information at their fingertips. Today, mobile devices are an extension of self, and as a result, are the devices we trust the most, as well as the ones many of us couldn’t do without! What this represents for brands, is a greater, and simpler, ability to inform in a more personalised way.

Our ‘Bing Ads UK Mobile Insights Report’, which we launched this week to mark the return of Advertising Week Europe, brings this to life further. It reveals that consumers are increasingly relying on their mobiles as a source of answers, with the number of questions asked on smartphones growing by over 20 per cent year-on-year. Searches asking ‘what’ have nearly doubled (+48%) and those asking ‘which’ are up by over a third (+32%).

Thinking again about these devices as an extension of self, our report shows they are now by far the device of choice during down time, with one in two searches over the weekend now made from smartphones or tablets.

Searches from mobile devices make up approximately one third of search volume on the Bing Network. We therefore continue to evolve our proposition and tools for marketers. For example we continue to innovate in our mobile ad products which in 2015 drove a 63 per cent increase in click through rate year-on-year. These include location extensions, mobile sitelinks, app extensions and many more.

But getting to the bottom of demystifying mobile isn’t just about creating smart products. We need to recognise the pivotal role mobile plays in the consumer journey which today is no longer a linear one.

As mobile continues to grow, so does consumer reliance on these devices when making a purchase. This goes right through from the stages of initial interest, to actively shopping for an item and all the way through to purchasing a product and sharing or talking about it to others. Understanding the crucial part mobile plays in the purchase funnel, is where brands must begin.

The crux? That word ‘part’. Consumers are constantly shifting between devices, and to maintain relevancy, brands must meet consumers at the right point/s on whichever device they chose for that particular moment.

It’s why at Microsoft, we think of mobile not as a singular device but as the mobility of experiences through products across devices and platforms, such as our personal assistant Cortana, to ensure consistency in a consumer’s experience. We empower marketers with real connections at scale. We use search across these services to make them more intelligent by welcoming a wealth of data to better our understanding of consumer behaviour online.

We are therefore further integrating Cortana, and bringing companion apps on iOS or Android so Cortana can come with you regardless of where you are. The latest example of this is Cortana’s integration on Cyanogen’s latest OS update. Cortana’s voice command capability is now ingrained into the Cyanogen ecosystem making it the deepest integration on Android to date.

We are also invested in building a strong offer for users across other platforms and partnerships. For example, you may not know, but Bing serves the search results on Siri and Spotlight. We plan to continue to grow our presence on iOS and Android by integrating Bing within cross-platform applications such as Office as well as through the development of new search applications.

 

I recently took part in a panel session Advertising Week Europe where, alongside a host of industry experts, I discussed the art of mobile monetisation where these themes and our forward focus on mobile at Microsoft was discussed in more detail. For a bite-size summary, read this blog here.

 

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