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Mobile Internet and the Future

At Tuesday’s marketing roundtable at Spark Central in Ann Arbor the panel had a very interesting discussion about the future of mobile marketing. They talked a lot about geo-targeted ads that are sent to a potential customer’s cell phone who has opted in to receive such message.

This got me wondering how paid search will work on mobile devices. One option is Google Mobile ads which are designed to appear on mobile websites but what about the growing number of iPhone users that don’t access mobile websites rather they view standard HTML? We can assume they will see paid search ads the same way we view them on a desktop computer. The next question is how many mobile internet users use search engines. A study done by iCrossing showed that 75% of mobile web users conduct searches, which in theory means traditional paid search ads will display 75% of the time mobile web users get online. This is a big number so I think it’s important that paid ads are displayed accurately.

Is a 3” screen is really large enough to be effective with paid ads? First of all I would think you need to zoom in to read any of the search result listings on a cell phone. Regardless of legibility the first 3 paid ads above the organic listings are still be prime real estate but once zoomed in I would think the paid ads along the right hand side wouldn’t be visible. This got me to wondering if cell phones are truly going to be the only way we get on the internet are we really going to settle for that small screen?

At Pure Visibility we work off mobile laptops but when we get in to work we typically plug in out computer to bigger monitors to make it easier to read in addition to keyboards and mice. I am a believer that in the near future both desktop and laptop computers as we know them are going to be gone and replaced by powerful mobile sized computers. If you think about it we are already there. Apple’s iphone, Google’s android, and Blackberrys aren’t just cell phones, they are computers. Once a cell phone/computer is as powerful as my laptop why would I lug around my laptop to and from work and travel? I could just carry the mobile computer and while at work plug it into a bigger monitor with keyboard and mouse. I could have the same set up at home so that I could work quickly and efficiently there too. This would also solve the problem of the screen size and paid search advertisements when I’m working from a stationary place. Some people are speculating that our mobile computers will have screens in front of our eyes that track our eye movement and allow us to control the computer. Sounds too far out for me, but I really like the idea of my work computer being able to fit in my pocket because it means commuting by bicycle is that much easier. My prediction is that paid ads won’t be as effective for people searching on the go, but as far as a mobile internet and a standard internet I think we are heading to standard internet and this idea of a different mobile web will become irrelevant.

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One Response to "Mobile Internet and the Future"

  • Andrew Miller
    November 16, 2008 - 5:06 pm Reply

    Good points, all of them. Perhaps you saw the news last week that Google tweaked the SERPs for iPhone users: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-10094856-37.html

    I have to assume that the new layouts serve two purposes: 1)better usability on small screens and mobile devices, and 2)better monetization opportunities for sponsored links. After all, GOOG is always trying to balance profits and UX which often are mutually exclusive objectives.

    And finally, I can’t wait for pocket-sized computers powerful enough to handle basic office functions either. Except when it comes to thinking of new excuses not to do work when your office is literally in your pocket everywhere you go.

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