How The Shift To Mobile Has Impacted Local Search And Display Marketing

Nearly 40 percent of people search only on a smartphone in an average day as they look to meet immediate needs. And those needs tend to be nearby, Google notes.

Mobile search tends to revolve around satisfying quick, immediate needs while on-the-go. But since consumers don’t live their lives in isolation, the question remains: how does that activity impact searches when consumers migrate to their desktop and tablet devices?

Nearly 40 percent of people search only on a smartphone in an average day as they look to meet immediate needs, a Think With Google report notes.

But with all the attention given to the idea of brands and marketers — particularly on the local level — needing to be “mobile-first,” it bears noting that it doesn’t mean “mobile-mainly.”

For example, in an average day, more than a quarter of users search across more than one type of device. As such, it’s necessary to reach your customers wherever and whenever they are. And that starts with matching a marketing message to the right device at the right time.

Source: Think With Google
Source: Think With Google

Primetime Search

In its analysis of search activity, Google finds that mobile leads in the morning as people reach for the small computer on their night-table or on their commute to work. As people settle in to their day, computers become dominant around 8 a.m.

Mobile takes the lead again in the late afternoon when people might be on the go, and continues to increase into the evening, spiking around primetime viewing hours.

In terms of category growth for mobile, the biggest jumps in smartphone-based searches are happening in home & garden (up 45 percent), apparel and consumer electronics (each both saw gains of 40 percent in mobile searches), and finance (35 percent). In general, every marketing category is up by at least 20-to-30 percent year-over-year, Google notes.

The home & garden category poses the most interesting aspects for brands seeking to reach consumers — and it also faces the greatest challenges in terms of marketing and advertising.

For one thing, mobile advertising’s relatively small screen makes cross-device advertising difficult. Just this past week, it was widely reported that New York Times would be begin phasing out banners as it seeks to create ads that are “native” to the device and experience.

home depot appGrowing Home & Garden Visits

Not every publisher has the wherewithal to abandon banners. But as platform companies seek to find ways to serve ads that are not simply repurposed from one device or site-type, there’s a greater opportunity to be responsive to users in the moment.

Looking at the home & garden category as an example, Google’s mobile display ads on behalf of Home Depot sought to align search marketing and traditional advertising in a way that avoided banner blindness.

Home Depot was able to attract increased store visits. But it was able to do so by working with Google to bridge search and display ads. Ultimately, over the past year, over 1 in 3 people who clicked on a mobile search ad had visited their store and 36 percent of their in-store revenue during peak periods was driven by mobile. That added up to an 8x ROI from the amount Home Depot spent on mobile display ads with Google.

How? Layering in location information on the mobile ads served as the link between devices and activity to target the right person at the right moment.

Specifically, Google aimed ads at mobile users who had demonstrated an interest in gardening supplies within 15 miles of individual Home Depot stores. The ads ran for four weeks on average.

“We know that our busy consumers are looking for answers quickly,” says Umut Dincer, director of Online Marketing for Home Depot. “We used Google’s most relevant products—in this case location based ads and technologies—to be there for our consumers at just the right time when they were looking for garden products that we sell.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.