Dial ‘M’ For Mobile Search

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Media Post
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Dial ‘M’ For Mobile Search By Cory Treffiletti
I regularly perform training for ad agencies; a couple weeks back, I was doing some
training sessions for one traditional agency, and I was reminded that of all the sessions
we do, the one that invariably gets the most attention and reaction is the one focused
on mobile.
Mobile is still a dramatically immature medium as far as content delivery is concerned, with a
very small portion of the audience truly interacting with content on their phones (if you live in
San Francisco, New York or Los Angeles, I’m sure you’ll disagree with me — but head away
from Metropolis or the tech-hubs and you’ll see what I mean). However, mobile is also the
most personal and pervasive medium. During my training sessions, invariably the most
interactive element is the part where we demonstrate mobile search!
What I find most interesting is that mobile search hasn’t become an advertising vehicle for the
masses as of yet. The platform is ripe for integrating ads, since consumers initiate the request
and they are pretty used to seeing ads on search results (this little company called Google has
built a pretty decent-sized business on this model; maybe you’ve heard of them). Google
hasn’t exploited this yet, even though its Google SMS (text a request to 46645 or GOOGL) is
in common use, nor has Yahoo (theirs is accessed via texting 92466, or YAHOO). The issue
with these platforms is that no one knows about them! I’m amazed that neither Google nor
Yahoo actively promotes these services to their users — and if they do, then they’ve
completely missed me! The only way anyone hears about them is from their friends and
colleagues — and mostly those folks are in the Internet industry, not the general marketplace.
In my analysis, mobile search is a diverse category because of the inability of the carriers to
come to terms on a standard. For mobile search to explode in the way that forecasters
project, the carriers need to pick a standard and place it on the deck of the phone itself.
My iPhone is pretty close to what I would want, which you can see if you go to the Maps
feature. This is a simple, yet buggy, interface built directly into the experience of the phone.
Building a search tool directly into the phone experience would be infinitely more accessible
and simpler for the average consumer. To be a success, we need to see a tool that is one
“click” away from its proper use. SMS Search is pretty close because it is built into the existing
structure using a special Short Code rather than a unique application. These other tools,
though extremely cool and definitely effective, require at least two “clicks” to access them
(open the browser, type in the URL, then “enter”). On my PC the experience has been
simplified (sort of) by integrating little search boxes all over windows or on the toolbar of my
browser. Search hits the average user when it’s easy, not something that has to be searched
for!
All in all, I’m still positive that mobile advertising will grow, focusing on two primary areas:
mobile search and integration into mobile video. These are what people want! They want info
immediately and they want access to video instantly. These are the “killer apps” for mobile
and it’s only a matter of time!

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