Moving on the Conversation About Mobile. Let's Get Smarter.

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By Mascha Driessen, Sr. Director Strategic Search Western Europe, Bing Ads

As marketers, if you had a penny for every time you’ve heard someone say “this will be the year of mobile”, you’d be counting your pounds by now. The role mobile devices play in consumers’ lives today is, quite frankly, unequivocal. Take a walk down the street and I’d guarantee that at least half of the people you pass will be glued to some form of a screen. We’re messaging, searching, Instagram-ing – you name it. Today, mobiles truly are an extension of self.

It’s why they’re a platform ripe for opportunity for brands. Nielsen averages that about 167 million consumers use apps and browse the web on their smartphones every week. They spend over 105 billion minutes doing it, with users checking their phones about 150 times a day. And we wonder how time flies?

Mobile devices have rapidly evolved from being a novelty to a consumer staple. As a result, they own the realm of personalisation, as the devices we keep closest to us at all times. However, as a collective, the industry has yet to crack the nut of understanding how best to engage with consumers on them. Still less than half of businesses are using smartphones to currently reach their audiences.

But spending on mobile isn’t really the issue – the latest IAB UK ad spend report shows mobile advertising accounted for 78 per cent of digital ad spend growth in the UK. The challenge brands and marketers are facing, is getting to know, and ultimately, more effectively reaching their mobile consumers.

To do this, we need to recognise the pivotal role mobile plays in the consumer journey which today is no longer a linear one. This goes right through from the stages of initial interest, to actively shopping for an item, then purchasing 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 offline and online and within online between devices. So, to maintain relevancy, brands must meet consumers at the right point/s on whichever device they chose for that particular moment. We need to move the conversation on from thinking of mobile not as singular devices but as the mobility of experiences through a variety of products across devices, platforms and the offline world. Here the role of data, such as that from search insights, can empower marketers to understand the context these devices provide on their audience to understand what matters to them in a particular place or at a certain time.

Our ‘Bing Ads UK Mobile Insights Report’, which we launched this week to mark the return of Advertising Week Europe, draws upon a wealth of search data to bring this to life further. It found mobile is by far the device of choice during consumer down time, with one in two searches over the weekend now made from smartphones or tablets. And what are we searching for as we kick back and relax on a Saturday? Retail sees the highest share of weekend mobile device searches (54%) with travel (48%) and finance (36%) making up the top three categories searched for.

Consumers are also increasingly relying on their mobiles as a source of answers. We found that the number of questions asked on smartphones is 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%). We’re an inquisitive bunch.

In demystifying mobile, and getting smarter about connecting with mobile consumers, brands need to be there, in the right place, with the right content when curiosity or inspiration strikes. Understand the context, and you unlock the realm of personalisation.

Mascha Driessen was one of the panellist in the ‘Economist Masters of Monetisation’ session this week at Advertising Week Europe. For more mobile insights join the conversation at #BingBites