In some of my recent blog articles, I have discussed the growth of mobile marketing as it relates to the boom in SmartPhone sales. This tremendous growth has provided an opportunity for businesses to look toward mobile users as a source of potential revenue by promoting their company to this burgeoning user base. There are a number of opportunities for businesses to make a splash in the mobile market no matter how big or small. A neighborhood pizzeria can benefit from a local marketing campaign targeting mobile users who rely on their phones to find restaurants while “on the go”, think Google Maps and Yahoo Local Maps. This is an obvious case of how local marketing and mobile phones work hand in hand for local businesses. But even the big players are jumping in head first (and dollars first) into the mobile market.
Verizon Wireless recently signed a deal with the NFL to be their official wireless sponsor to the tune of $720 million dollars over the next 4 years! That’s a significant investment (and endorsement) which speaks volumes to how Verizon sees the future of mobile marketing. Prior to signing the deal, I imagine Verizon crunched the numbers on how they can recoup the investment in partnering with the biggest sport in the US. It is a major deal for Verizon, one which they were able to land while competing with Sprint for the title of “Official Wireless Sponsor of the NFL”. Verizon Wireless operates the largest wireless voice and 3G data network, serving more than 91 million customers, and now those customers have access to exclusive content from the NFL on their mobile phones. Who would have thought 5 or 10 years ago, you would be able to watch highlights of the NFL on your cell phone?
John Stratton, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Verizon Wireless spoke of the deal, “For Verizon Wireless, it is NFL content delivered over our 3G network so football fans can extend the excitement of the sport long after the last touchdown of a season. And the NFL content is customizable in that consumers have options from video to ringtones to alerts; the choice is theirs.” This quote gives you a glimpse of how Verizon sees this deal as a way to increase not only their brand, but drive future revenues from mobile users who have an insatiable appetite for everything cutting edge.
About a month ago, I wrote a blog about the expected increase in local search advertising due in large part to the rise of Smartphone usage. Since that blog post, I have seen some extensive research and statistics I would like to share that further support’s those expectations.
According to the latest report from the CDC’s Department of Health and Human Services, “More than one out of every six American homes (17.5%) had only wireless telephones during the first half of 2008, an increase of 1.7 percentage points since the second half of 2007. In addition, more than one out of every eight American homes (13.3%) received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones despite having a landline telephone in the home.” Those are strong figures, but I am not surprised…I am included in the 13.3% because I do have a landline, but never use it. All of my inbound and outbound calls are done from my Smartphone (the Motorola Q). If it wasn’t for the fact that I need a landline for the Visitor’s gate to my development, I would be counted in the percentage of households who only have wireless phones.
Another strong indicator that local search advertising should be a critical aspect of a company’s online advertising strategy lies in the growing number of people using their mobile phones for accessing news and information. According to a recent comScore report, “the number of people using their mobile device to access news and information on the Internet more than doubled from January 2008 to January 2009. Among the audience of 63.2 million people who accessed news and information on their mobile devices in January 2009, 22.4 million (35 percent) did so daily; more than double the size of the audience last year.”
The Smartphone has made these activities easier than ever. More and more people are relying on mobile phones inside their house and out. So the next time you are allocating budgets and determining your optimum marketing mix, remember to include local search advertising. The technology inherent in today’s mobile phones have made it easier than ever to access news and information. Make it easy for your potential customers to find you with a presence in online local search directories like Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and YellowPages.com.
I was reading an article the other day about the expected increase in local search advertising over the next four to five years. According to a report by the Kelsey Group, local search advertising revenue will increase to $1.3 billion by 2013, up from a conservative $20 million this year. The increase sounds staggering, considering the figures go against conventional theories that this down economy will be around longer than expected.
But as I thought about it more, I believe the increase in local search advertising will be significant regardless of the economy and the main reason why: the Smartphone! With more and more people using Smartphone technologies like the iPhone, the Blackberry, and Palm, I expect to see a big increase in local search marketing over the next few years. I cannot put a dollar figure on it (The Kelsey Group already has), but just look around and the signs are all over the place. The technology with the web based, super fast 3G network phones makes it much more palpable to use your phone to search the web. The screens are larger than ever, they are in full color and have full keyboards! We are moving toward a time where it is actually less convenient to walk up stairs and turn on your pc, than to simply jump online from your Smartphone. When you are truly “on the go”, these phones can completely replace your home computer for online functionality. Instead of calling for information (say goodbye to 411), you can just as easily go online from your phone to find whatever you need — you are doing a local search!
If you are a business owner, you ought to get onboard with local search marketing as soon as possible. Make sure you have your local listings in Google Maps and Yahoo’s local business listing formats. You might find your business is already there, and if so, make sure all the information is up to date and accurate. If you are not listed, be sure to add your business listing and provide as much information as they allow you to put in your profile. If they allow a photo, use a nice picture of your building, or use your company logo. While you’re at it, check some of the other local business finders (think Yellow Pages online and similar sites) and make sure your company information is accurate and up to date on those sites as well. Remember, more and more people are using these Smartphones every day and they will be one of the biggest drivers in local search activity over the next few years.