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Neil Astin, Head of SEM

The author

Neil Astin

Head of SEM

It’s no revolutionary statement to say that if we went back a few years, the internet was a dramatically different place and consumed in a very different way compared to now.

‘Going on the internet’ was an activity, something we set aside time to do, our main focus.

This was undoubtedly a simpler time for the advertiser, no other devices to consider and the focus was all on being present when your users sit down for their online session. You could pretty much target your advertising for between 7 – 10pm, the hours after dinner when people sat down at their computers to get their daily dose of internet.

Fast-forward to present day and a lot has happened to affect how we as users interact with the internet. Most notably, the rise of powerful mobile devices and the expansion of the mobile data infrastructure, suddenly, we’re not concerned with ‘connecting to the internet’, we’re always connected.

We live online

This morning, I accessed the internet for five separate tasks before 9am without even consciously thinking about it. Some of these were leisure, some were for work, and one was top of the funnel activity which would lead to a sale for a company in just a few hours.

My day always starts with reading the news as soon as I wake up, followed by a quick check of Facebook, then later, I check which platform my train is leaving from. Once on the train, I might read a bit more news, look at some work emails, or more recently – play Pokemon Go (I’m already obsessed…). This is all on my mobile.

Today, I came to the conclusion that if I was ever going to become a Pokemon Go champion – I would need a portable phone charger. But I didn’t make a mental note to look into that later, I had the internet in my hands so I searched there and then.

I compared just two advertisers and chose which shop I was going to head out to at lunch to buy the product, so any advertiser who wasn’t there when I searched at 8:15am had no chance of getting my sale.

What does this mean for advertisers?

This one, brief story about my journey to buy a portable phone charger has two broad and important messages for advertisers:

  1. The purchase took place hours after the research and through a completely different channel.

The way we access the internet has changed, the way we measure marketing activity and attribute marketing budget has to change, too. If you’re still using a last-click measurement model, you are potentially crediting the wrong touchpoints.

Following a last click model in my example would mean that the mobile activity that led to the sale would not be credited. This would lead to lower mobile bids and lost sales.

  1. People are impatient.

The shift to mobile has changed the research habits of consumers. It makes sense that on desktop, people are willing to spend more time comparing several different sources, on mobile it’s a little harder to do this and we so we see less comparison.

The impact of this is that there are no second chances; you have to be there when users search or you risk losing out. It’s also worth remembering that mobile page speed times are crucial here, users will abandon the site if your page loads slowly.

Conclusion

For a number of years now we’ve been constantly hearing about how the internet is changing, how the year of the mobile is coming; well it’s here, it has changed, and we as marketers must make sure that our strategies and methods of measurement have changed with it.

The following questions are a great place to start to assess whether you’re online presence is keeping up with the rapidly evolving world of how consumers are using the internet:

  • Does your site load clearly on every device?
  • Does your site load quickly on every device, particularly mobile?
  • Are you attempting to factor in cross-device conversions in your bidding and budgeting?
  • Are you attempting to assess the in-store impact of your online advertising?
  • Are you factoring time lag in your bidding and budgeting?

To explore further the technical considerations we as marketers must consider due to the impact of mobile search, take a look at this article in The Drum written by our Director of SEO, Meghan Burton.