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S E P T E M B E R 2016 The Mobile Brief

HOW TO ADVANCE YOUR CROSS-CHANNEL STRATEGY

www.greenlightdigital.com

Greenlight is a multiple award-winning digital marketing agency that designs, builds, deploys and measures marketing solutions and campaigns across Search, Content and Engagement, Display, Mobile, eCommerce, and more, with the unwavering objective of achieving dramatic growth for its clients. Greenlight promotes brands and products in 26 languages and 42 territories on behalf of such clients as Hiscox, ghd, Dixons Carphone, Millennium Resorts and Hotels, Laura Ashley and many more.

Ready to grow? Call us on +44(0)20 7253 7000 or go to www.greenlightdigital.com/get-in-touch 2

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CONTENTS 4

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INTRODUCTION

MOBILE: THE GROWING STORY

BY HANNAH KIMUYU Director of Paid Media

BY JILL WATCHORN Industry Manager, Google

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OPTIMISING MOBILE MOMENTS: AN END-TO-END FOCUS BY ANGELA KNIBB Head of Paid Search

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DEVELOPING AN ORGANIC MOBILE MARKETING STRATEGY

USING DISPLAY TO OFFER THE BEST CROSS-CHANNEL MOBILE EXPERIENCE

BY BEA PATMAN Head of SEO

BY INA ARENS Head of Display

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INTRODUCTION HANNAH KIMUYU, DIRECTOR OF PAID MEDIA

Mobile has been the talk of the table for many digital

they may opt for mobile campaigns, which certainly

marketers for a while, where more recently we’ve

are worth considering given that in 2015 mobile ad

deemed each year to be ‘the year of mobile’. The

spend accounted for nearly a third of overall digital

fact that this channel has dominated conversations

spend5. If not, a good amount of time needs to be

for so long now is a testament to how important it

spent on the SEO side of things to ensure your brand

is and, mostly, that it shouldn’t be ignored. Since

is searchable and meets the latest search engine

2010, daily internet usage on mobile has increased

requirements.

by more than 600%, with hours spent on mobile devices each day increasing incrementally yearon-year to hit a whopping average of 2.8 hours of usage per day1. This has resulted in mobile devices becoming an extension of who we are, as we discovered in our research earlier this year, which saw many respondents noting they felt anxious if separated from their device2.

It’s clear that mobile is dominating from every angle, and latest stats indicate that’s not going to change any time soon. In this magazine, we look at the impact mobile is having across SEO, paid search and display in order to showcase the multifaceted approach brands can take to improve their mobile strategy. Above all, we want to highlight the options that are available while also showing how multiple

Whilst it’s clear that usage and engagement are

channels can work well alongside one another to

on the up, what’s less apparent is just how to

help boost impact. From there, it’s up to marketers

capture the attention of the core audience you

to select their weapon of choice and get started with

want to attract. With the average smartphone user

creating a results-driven mobile plan. Because this is

checking their phone 200 times per day, that’s

essentially the one channel that every brand needs

effectively as many opportunities that brands have

to master in order to stand the test of time.

on any given day to engage . In order to capitalise 3

on these opportunities, brands definitely need mobile optimised sites or apps to be in place – this is

1.

crucial for mobile activity to be seamless. This may

2.

seem like a basic recommendation, but last year we found that as many as 30% of marketers were yet to optimise their sites for mobile4. From there,

3. 4.

brands need to decide on their strategy in order to attract and maintain their audience. To do this,

5.

http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobilemarketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/ http://www.greenlightdigital.com/blog/press/1-in-4-britsto-take-a-digital-detox-in-2016/ http://www.digitalturbine.com/blog/mobile-advertisingstats-facts/ http://www.greenlightdigital.com/blog/posts/dont-believe-the-hype-the-technologies-marketers-are-looking-toinvest-in-and-avoid/ https://iabuk.net

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Mobile Insights

MOBILE: THE GROWING STORY BY JILL WATCHORN, INDUSTRY MANAGER, GOOGLE

There’s no getting away from it -

At Google, we have a number of free

mobile plays a fundamental part

tools3 that help brands to get the

in supporting business growth. In

best out of mobile, such as tips for

the UK alone, there are over 75

creating a good mobile site, page

million phone subscriptions1 and,

speed insights and reviewing how

furthermore, 40% of all UK sales

customer-friendly your mobile site

take place on smartphones and

really is.

tablets . It’s clear the pressure 2

really is on for businesses to provide consumers with a seamless experience in a mobile-first world.

The example to the right is from a London restaurant chain, Tootoomoo, and shows confirmation that its mobile site is indeed customer-friendly. For sites that

“ Ultimately, consumers want to encounter mobile sites that are easy to navigate, and that deliver fast results. If any of these elements are compromised, consumers have ample choice to take their custom elsewhere. “

don’t pass this test with flying colours, Google offers practical and quick ways to improve their mobile experiences. Along with these insights, Google is continuing to support a mobilefirst world with the recent launch of three new ad innovations: Expanded Text Ads, New Bid Adjustments, and Cross-Device Columns.

Source: https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/ tools/mobile-friendly/

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EXPANDED TEXT ADS At the start of 2016, Google removed right-hand side ads in the search engine results pages in order to improve the user experience and allow a seamless transition across all devices - mobile, tablet and desktop. This led to the announcement of the new Expanded Text Ads. These are similar to Google’s standard text ads but there are several differences: Expanded Text Ads have two headlines

The display URL is now based on the final

instead of one, with 30 characters and

URL domain.

one long 80-character description line.

These text ads are now mobile-optimised.

The description line, which was originally two lines, has now become one field. In reality, this gives businesses 50% more ad text to highlight products, offers and services.

Standard text ad

Expanded text ad

Source: https://adwords.googleblog.com/2016/07/three-ad-innovations-for-mobile-first-world.html

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Mobile Insights DEVICE BID ADJUSTMENTS Device Bid Adjustments offers businesses the option to maintain a single campaign, but with more control to set individual bids for each device; mobile, tablet and desktop. Aligning this, where relevant, with location, time of day, and audience allows businesses to optimise with greater precision.

these actions into place. Google has identified that for big shopping days, such as Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (the first Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday), UK search queries are up 22% yearon-year5, sales on Black Friday are up 35% year-on-year and Cyber Monday sales are up 34% year-onyear6. Additionally, between 2014 and 2015, mobile queries rose close

CROSS DEVICE DEVELOPMENTS In this day and age, 61% of internet users and over 80% of online millennials start shopping on one device but continue, or finish their

to 10% during this period, across all categories7. So in order to capitalise on this buoyant period in the retail calendar, marketers must start putting strategic cross-device plans in place now.

purchase, on a different one4. We

And finally, when planning budgets

know that consumers are constantly

or creating new campaigns, keep

moving between devices, making it

in mind what Wendy Clark, former

important to move away from a last

President at Coca–Cola, once said8,

click model and look at the whole

“If your plans don’t include mobile,

customer journey when analysing a

your plans are not finished”. So, let

brand’s online performance.

us raise a toast to mobile, embrace

Three years ago, Google introduced cross-device conversions to allow marketers to fully measure this

the direction the consumer is going in and join them on their journey. Here’s to a mobile-first world.

multi-device journey. As of 6th September 2016 cross-device conversions will automatically be included in the AdWords ‘Conversions’ column, which will

1. 2. 3. 4.

allow marketers to have a better understanding of the full value of mobile.

WHAT’S NEXT?

5. 6. 7. 8.

We are Social - Digital in 2015 IMRG & CapGemini, Nov 2014 - Jan 2015 https://developers.google.com Google / Ipsos Connect, March 2016, GPS Omnibus,n=2,013 US online respondents 18+. Google Insights Google Insights Google Insights Econsultancy, 28 inspiring mobile marketing quotes, June, 2014

With the busy Christmas period imminently upon us, it really is more important than ever to start putting

8

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Source: https://adwords.googleblog.com/

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Paid Search

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OPTIMISING MOBILE MOMENTS: AN END-TO-END FOCUS ANGELA KNIBB, HEAD OF PAID SEARCH

I’ve been working in paid search for six years now, and the start of each year has been marked by Google announcing that it’ll be ‘the year of mobile’. In the early years this was hard to believe as traffic was lower and conversions were non-existent. But 2013 marked a transition period as searches started shifting from desktop to mobile by at least 30%. A new era began in 2015 when mobile searches outgrew desktop searches for the first time, and now that we’re also seeing conversions follow, it’s time for marketers to pay serious attention to mobile as a channel. Don’t believe it? Here’s some food for thought1 The average user checks their phone 200 times per day

to be present during the research phase. The risk is that if they’re not, potential customers won’t be there for them in the decision phase.

The average user switches between devices 28 times per day 54% of decisions start on mobile and finish elsewhere

THE MOBILE BASICS WE SHOULD ALL BE GETTING RIGHT

Aggregating the traffic of our client base, this year

Google has broadly defined micro-moments as ‘I want to’

we’ve seen the following traffic all come from mobile:

moments, e.g. ‘I want to go’, ‘I want to know’, ‘I want to do’

42% of our brand traffic, 64% of generic traffic and a

and ‘I want to buy’ searches2.

whopping 67% of shopping traffic

Micro-moments epitomise to what degree advertisers

What’s clear from this is that the traffic volume is on

must meet needs at the right moment in time – be it

mobile, particularly during the research phase of the

by providing a location extension in search to finding a

customer journey. We live on our mobile devices these

store front, or through a how-to video for an appliance.

days, and alongside checking our social media accounts

In a nutshell, advertisers need to be visible, offer useful

or streaming TV shows and videos, we’re researching our

information and offer it quickly. Today’s users have lost

next holiday, investigating credit cards, or trying to find

their patience and aren’t willing to wait for pages to load or

exactly the right outfit for that wedding. All on the go, all

images to render, so speed is an essential area to get right.

on our mobiles. This highlights the importance for brands

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Paid Search

Further to that, measurement is an essential part of capturing the information you need to optimise your strategy, allowing you to attribute actions to the right trigger. While mobile doesn’t perform in exactly the same way as desktop, it’s still a very important channel that adds plenty of value to the user journey. That being said, we need to measure where the decision started as well as how it started. A more holistic approach should be taken to traditional methods of attribution. I recall a client that was running a lot of Twitter activity. We found that sales correlated with retweets, a valuable learning that helped inform our strategy on social. A specific example this may be, but the ability to track what was seemingly a ‘meaningless’ engagement metric and how it impacted on revenue was a huge step. This is exactly why mobile engagement needs to be measured, its path tracked effectively and the value of the sale attributed throughout the journey. We also need to think about things from a cross-channel perspective, given that users tend to research on mobile and convert through another channel. When tracking through Google Analytics, there are three fairly simple reports you can look at to identify a trend (note that these aren’t definitive measures in isolation, but combining the three reports helps identify trends). 1.

Compare year-on-year traffic levels and split of desktop vs mobile – typically there should be an increase for mobile.

2.

Look at year-on-year pages per session and time on site and compare mobile to desktop – are mobile visitors viewing more content and researching more?

3.

Look at the year-on-year desktop conversions in one visit– are more desktop users coming ready to convert?

You can also look at cross-device sales in Adwords, third

Mobile is not a fad that will go away – the trends may well

party tracking systems such as DoubleClick for Search,

change, but the basic desire to use

or invest in tracking beacons to monitor online to offline

mobile to research, buy and make

activity, enabling you to measure the value of mobile for your brand.

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decisions online won’t change.

GOT IT - BUT HOW DO WE CAPTURE THAT AUDIENCE? First things first, you should make sure that your brand and best performers are in top positions on mobile. Next, be sure to bid for positions based on your key audiences, which can be identified by reviewing your Customer Match or RLSA lists. Whilst this kind of optimisation seems basic, it really does drive cost and performance efficiencies. If you’re a retailer, you should definitely consider Google Shopping – I mean really consider it. But be aware that you need to secure top positions and be appealing in comparison to your competitors, which means:

((

Appearing in top positions by increasing your mobile modifiers - and remember that thanks to the latest Google update these now go as high as 900% (or more, should you wish) with the ability to adjust for both tablets and mobiles

((

Bidding aggressively against your RLSA and Customer Match lists to secure top spots for core audiences

((

Opting into seller ratings for product items to stand out

((

Using promotions to increase visibility

((

Fully optimising your feed for search

((

Making sure your products are correctly and as deeply categorised as possible

((

Linking to the correct product page

((

Using high quality images in your feed

((

Checking your stock levels are accurate

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Paid Search

WHAT KIND OF CREATIVE SHOULD I THINK ABOUT? AD TEXT As we enter a mobile-first world, Google is updating its ad texts to reflect the change, allowing for more prominent headlines and almost 50% more space to sell your brand. This gives us: •

Two 30-character headlines, one 80-character description line and two path fields up to 30 characters long each for automated display URLs



Up to 20% uplift in click-through rate (CTR) BEFORE

AFTER

New York Budget Hotel

New York Budget Hotel - Best NY Hotel Rates in Seconds

Book comfortable hotels in New York City. Students save 20%.

Book stylishly comfortable hotels in New York City today! Students save 20%.

www.example.com/NewYork

www.example.com/NewYorkCity/Budget

DESKTOP

New York Budget Hotel

www.example.com/NewYork

New York Budget Hotel - Best NY Hotel Rates in Seconds www.example.com/NewYorkCity/Budget

Book comfortable hotels in New York City. Students save 20%.

MOBILE

Book comfortable hotels in New York City. Students save 20%.

Source: http://searchengineland.com/google-adwords-expanded-text-ads-test-two-headlines-248135

This is great for advertisers and consumers alike, as we have more space to explain our offering while also allowing the consumer to understand more about the brand before clicking, which should improve both click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates (CVR).

CALL EXTENSIONS If you have a business phone number, it’s worth trying call extensions – or even call-only ads on mobile – to encourage more calls.

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Be visible, offer useful information and offer it quickly.

APP PROMOTION

WHAT ABOUT MY WEBSITE? A question we hear often is, “should I have an app or

If you have an app, it’s worth looking into app promotion on mobile. Universal App

a mobile optimised website?” The answer is to opt for whichever is most useful to your customers.

Campaigns (UAC) automatically take text

Apps are clearly desired by consumers, but they have

and images from the Google Play store, along

to be slick, well designed, and serve a purpose. Once

with optional YouTube videos to automatically

created, they then need to be promoted and maintained

create ads and serve them across Google

on an ongoing basis. Mobile websites are still a key part

Search, Google Search Partners, Google Play,

of mobile advertising, and it’s crucial that you have a site

Google Display Network and YouTube. The

that’s easily read – and easily used – on a mobile.

advertiser then sets a Cost Per Install (CPI) target based on: •

Install volume



Post install event volume (e.g. maximising first time users)



Driving total conversion value (e.g. increasing eCommerce revenue)

Like it or lump it, mobile is now at the heart of how most of us live our lives, and therefore needs to be at the heart of what we do from a digital marketing perspective as well. This doesn’t just mean bidding more aggressively (although in places that is key), but thinking about your audience targeting – who are you trying to talk to, and what creative will work for them? It’s important that retailers don’t neglect their Shopping campaigns. This means optimising their feed to increase visibility, using seller ratings and promotions to stand

LOCATION EXTENSIONS Think about taking advantage of ‘I want to’ moments by utilising location extensions in search. You can take this one step further by placing ads on Google Search and Google Maps, seamlessly integrating the Maps experience with location search ads. This opens up ads onto Google Maps, allowing you

out from competitors, and being smart with mobile and audience modifiers. Finally, whether you have an app or a website – or both – make sure they’re optimised for mobile, that they load quickly and, perhaps most importantly, are easy to use on a small screen. Successful and savvy advertisers are ensuring that mobile touchpoints for their consumers are best in class, knowing that this will bring revenue further down the line, if not sooner.

to drive increased footfall to your store from both Google Search and Google Maps. We

1.

recommend doubling up with local inventory ads in Shopping for retailers to show your in-

2.

http://flurrymobile.tumblr.com/ http://www.smartinsights.com/ https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/collections/micromoments.html

store offering and proximity to users.

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Display

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USING DISPLAY TO OFFER THE BEST

CROSS-CHANNEL

MOBILE EXPERIENCE INA ARENS, HEAD OF DISPLAY

With consumers spending 43% of their online



the content provider or advertiser

time on mobile, and mobile ad spend being up 60.3% to £2.627 billion in 2015 (accounting for



based services

entered the era of mobile1.



Click-to-order ads: link to brochures or marketing materials based on postal addresses being supplied

advertisers, but is equally effective in a fully integrated, cross-media campaign involving TV, print, radio, out-

Click-to-locate ads: enable users to find, for example, the closest car dealer or cinema through location-

30.5% of all digital advertising), we have truly

Mobile can be used as a standalone medium for

Click-to-call ads: allow users to place outgoing calls to



Click-to-buy ads: allow users to make purchases via

of-home (OOH) and online. A TV ad, for example, can

a saved credit or debit card, or using another form of

prompt consumers to search using a specific keyword in

mobile payment

order to get more information, whereas coupled with an OOH ad, consumers could be persuaded to look up the



including logos, wallpapers or ring tones – onto their

nearest store to their current location to purchase the item

mobile phones

directly. Here are a few examples of how brands can engage and interact with their customers on mobile:

Click-to-download ads: provide users with content –



Click-to-video ads: enable users to view an advertiser’s video ad for a product or service

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Display

When starting a mobile display campaign, it’s worth looking at the two different channels from which we buy your target audiences: mobile web and mobile applications. Channel

Description

Advertising Opportunities

Mobile Web

The mobile web is a channel for delivery of web content,

Banner ads on mobile web sites

which offers and formats content to users in awareness of the

Text ads on mobile web sites

mobile context. The mobile context is characterized by the

Branded mobile web sites.

nature of personal user information needs (e.g. updating your blog, accessing travel information, receiving news update), constraints of mobile phones (i.e. screen size, keypad input) and special capabilities (i.e. location, connection type such as 3G or WLAN)

Good for: Driving users to a mobile web site Lead generation Direct sales Branding

Mobile

Software or content that consumers downloaded to or find

Ad placement within applications (e.g.

Applications

pre-installed on their mobile phone and then resides on the

banners, “splash” pages)

phone. Examples include applications such as games, news

Branded applications.

readers and lifestyle tools. Downloads are accessible only to consumers with appropriate mobile phones and data plans.

Good for: Branding/CRM Driving users to a mobile web site

Source: http://www.mmaglobal.com/files/MMA%20Global%20Mobile%20Advertising%20Guidelines_030308PR.pdf

This January, the mobile web display inventory surpassed

direct-response oriented, will determine the technology

that of desktop for the first time ever. It’s also worth noting

used; however, recent advancements in the market mean

that mobile app inventory still makes up the majority of

that certain DSPs and networks are performing well where

available mobile inventory.

a cost-per-download (CPD) or cost-per-install (CPI) metric is used, which is particularly useful for direct-response

HOW DO WE BUY MOBILE AD INVENTORY? The majority of inventory is bought on a cost per thousand impressions (CPM) or cost per click (CPC) basis – there

campaigns.

WHAT FORMATS ARE OUT THERE?

are also mobile-specific networks that cater for a cost

From a creative stance, there are a range of innovative

per ad (CPA) based model, which can help work towards

formats available, many of which leverage the mobile

generating a set amount of app installs, for example. All

device’s hardware capabilities. For instance, certain high

purchasing models are still relatively cheap compared to

impact branding ads can be activated with a swipe, tap,

their desktop counterparts.

shake, or even specific physical actions so that a user can

Any of the major Demand-Side-Platforms (DSPs) have access to mobile inventory, both app and web. However, in the last couple of years mobile-specific DSPs have emerged. The campaign KPI, whether it be more brand or

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draw a shape – something we’ve recently put live wherein users are asked to draw a ribbon symbol to start the main animation. These ads can be bought on a traditional cost per thousand impressions (CPM) or on a cost per engagement (CPE) basis, the latter being a very efficient

way of buying display inventory because of the level of

However, if one wishes to monitor what happens within

interactivity and intent that triggers the activation of the

an app to look at elements such as loyalty, dwell time,

format.

account activations and general usage, then it’s important

Another innovative option is a 360° ‘virtual reality’ video format, which is becoming increasingly popular on Facebook. The device’s accelerometer powers the ad allowing the user to effectively look up, down and side-toside to experience the effect of being in the location of the video. This would work particularly well for travel brands wanting to offer users real insight into the experience they

to invest in a dedicated software development kit (SDK). SDKs usually charge according to the number of events they track, offering reductions based on the scale of activity. Using the information they provide, we optimise our clients’ app download campaigns, applying different techniques for different markets, for example, where app usage and user behaviour can vary considerably.

would be purchasing; such as seeing the Northern Lights

With such innovation available, there’s no doubt that the

from the deck of a cruise ship or surveying a hotel room.

era of mobile has come. It’s now a chief component of any

HOW TO TRACK IT ALL

media strategy, and should not be neglected – indeed, it’s the new battleground in the quest for a user’s attention.

Of course, tracking and attributing these performance

Without it, any brand runs the risk of missing a major

metrics is as important as the creative itself. This happens

opportunity, particularly amongst millennial audiences.

in an ad server, wherein – just like desktop – we’ll monitor impression volumes, clicks and conversions amongst a host of other metrics; using this information, we can

1. https://www.iabuk.net

optimise activity to the best performing tactics.

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SEO

DEVELOPING AN ORGANIC MOBILE MARKETING STRATEGY BEA PATMAN, HEAD OF SEO

The last time I contributed an article to a Greenlight magazine was in the spring of this year for our SEO Brief: 2015 Review1, where I reflected on the ways in which SEO had evolved throughout the year. I outlined my belief that in 2015 we had finally witnessed the ‘year of mobile’ that the industry has so long been heralding. It was, after all, the year that web searches made on mobile devices overtook those made on fixed internet for the first time. I mentioned in my introduction that we would largely be ignoring any additional context gleaned in the first quarter of 2016 and would instead talk only about developments that had taken place before the turn of the new year. This helped to keep us focused on 2015, but it felt odd to be presenting an incomplete picture: new developments such as AMP had evolved significantly by then and we had already heard from Google that a second Mobile Friendly update was in the pipeline for the following month. Now the time has come for another look at mobile, I want to use this opportunity to take a much fuller look at the ways in which mobile and app usage, as well as marketing and measurement, have evolved since that last review.

2020

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SEO

APP ENGAGEMENT ON THE RISE Perhaps the most interesting development for brands

only to get on board with a brand new app, but to do so faster than ever.

looking to make headway in mobile marketing has been an

Of course, not all of us are lucky enough to have the

apparent shift in the “app threshold” among mobile users.

selling power of a Kardashian, and few brands enjoy

That threshold represents the discrepancy between time

the same level of exposure, but developments in app

spent using apps, which is on the up, and actual number

indexing over the course of this year are making the latter

of apps being used, which was in decline when we last

a little bit easier. Google Insights3 notes that some 27%

took a snapshot of the industry. I suggested that this might

of consumers now find apps through web search, thanks

provide a challenge for brands hoping to better engage

in large part to the Firebase App Indexing API (formerly

with consumers via an app, because of the heavy onus on

Google App Indexing), which allows webmasters to

users to seek out and engage with that app to begin with

verify the relationship between their website and app,

and the statistical evidence to indicate that they weren’t

and thereby enables Google to include the app in SERPs.

inclined to do so.

There’s an obvious value for brands in securing additional

Now it looks as though the threshold could be surmountable. In Flurry’s latest State of Mobile report2, which draws its data from over 2.1 billion smart devices each month, the growth rate in app sessions is segmented by app categories to provide a clearer view of just where mobile users are spending their time. Of

SERP real estate in this way, yet a Searchmetrics study4 from earlier this year identified only 20% of iOS apps and 30% of Android apps capable of supporting App Indexing. The key takeaway? Now is the ideal time to be implementing App Indexing and getting a head start on 70-80% of the competition.

the 58% overall growth in mobile use year-on-year, the overwhelming majority is made up by apps classified as “personalisation”, which saw a 332% year-on-year

THAT’S APPS. WHAT ABOUT MOBILE SITES?

increase in sessions. This segment encompasses apps

With app engagement continuing to boom, something was

that facilitate customisation of mobile devices or other

going to have to give. That something, it appears, is time

messaging apps – such as Facebook Messenger, Line

spent on mobile browsers – and the difference is stark. The

and Snapchat – and of the personalisation apps swelling

latest data from Flurry reveals that 90% of time spent on

the category so significantly, the most prominent is Kim

mobile devices is in apps, leaving just 10% of time split

Kardashian’s Kimoji emojis. How is this indicative of a

between Chrome and Safari. The report concludes that the

greater uptake of new apps? Well, the app only launched

browser has now been “sidelined” by mobile users. The

in the week before Christmas at the very end of 2015 and

likely reasons for this are manifold and naturally include

immediately rocketed to number one spot in the App

the increasing prominence and availability of apps, thanks

Store, clearly indicating the willingness of consumers not

to improved indexing and the dominant ‘app packs’ that

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appear at the top of many mobile SERPs. I believe user

varied content designed for reading – i.e. engagement-led

experience is also a significant factor: with the smoothness

rather than commercial – is becoming commonplace.

of native apps now so readily available, why compromise with a shrunk-down version of a website?

Despite its advantages, though, it seems that SEOs are still weighing up the merits of implementing AMP and this has

Google is alert to this, and the roll-out of a second

resulted in a fairly slow uptake. There are a few reasons

iteration of the Mobile Friendly update in May this year

for this, but one of the biggest is the quality of content that

served to strengthen mobile usability as a ranking signal

can actually be served on an AMP page. Lightening the

for websites. Speed remains a significant factor within

code means stripping out a lot of dynamic elements, which

the algorithm, while other considerations focus more

is why the protocol isn’t well suited to the likes of retail

specifically on the small-screen viewing experience.

websites. It also means that other valuable SEO assets

Google recommends leaving adequate space between

need to be sacrificed – comment forms, for example, which

buttons and links (or “tap targets”, in Google speak),

are great for driving user-generated content.

ensuring that fonts use a baseline of 16 pixels (with large or small fonts scaling up or down from that point), setting vertical line spacing at 1.2em, and correctly setting the viewport tag for your pages. This is the meta tag that tells a browser how to display a page’s dimensions and with the wrong one set, or with the tag omitted entirely, mobile browsers will default to rendering desktop dimensions.

So is a switch to AMP the right approach for every website in the long run? It’s a tough call. It could prove to be a valuable weapon in the fight against the ever-growing dominance of apps, helping to ensure that mobile users continue to engage with your content within a browser. On the other hand, just like everything in SEO, it’s one factor among many and it may well prove imprudent to place

With all this in mind, it seems obvious that digital

all eggs in one basket. My advice is simply to continue

marketers would jump at a solution that helped to satisfy

thinking about usability as a whole, following Google’s

mobile usability requirements – and AMP (Accelerated

mobile guidelines to make sure that you’re offering your

Mobile Pages) is just that. First appearing in mobile SERPs

visitors as speedy and intuitive an experience as possible

in February, AMP is an open-source coding standard,

on your site. And if you want to focus on tapping into the

supported by Google and designed to help publishers

app-loving majority instead? Well, that’s probably a smart

load their pages much faster on mobile by serving ultra-

move too!

lightweight code. As well as the ranking advantages that come from a faster load time, Google displays some

1.

AMP results in a marked-up carousel at the top of mobile SERPs, meaning that there’s the potential for pages to appear much more prominently. At first, only news content

2. 3. 4.

http://www.greenlightdigital.com/blog/magazine/the-seo-brief2015-review/ http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160105005501/en/ https://www.google.co.uk/insights/ http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/

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