Mobile Social Search and Mobile Analytics Panel Recap

Many thanks to those who came out for the Mobile Monday NY Event on Optimizing for the Mobile User last Monday at the Samsung Experience Center. We were pleased with the turnout and hope that everyone learned something from the discussion. It was a pleasure for me to meet a number of you who work to improve the mobile user experience, including panelists Dean Collins of Amethon, Joe Cuccinelli of Quattro Wireless, Dan Mason of ESPN Mobile Web, Adam Kerr of Bango, Greg Harris of Mobilytics, Stephen Ives of taptu, and Stan Wiechers of TigTags. In retrospect, the size of the panel was probably too large and too diverse to have a focused discussion for two hours on a Monday evening, but here a few takeaways from the event:

Mobile Analytics is Currently Necessary
As I mentioned before in my Mobile SEO’s Guide to Mobile Analytics, there are inherent problems in tracking mobile devices due to the lack of JavaScript and cookie support. Though there was some disagreement among the panelists over what percentage of mobile browsers supported cookies (low end 3%, high end 40%), all of the panelists agreed that desktop analytics have major limitations when it comes to tracking mobile users. Apart from the fact that the data might not be as accurate as it could be, there is a lack of mobile-specific metrics within traditional desktop analytics that make it difficult to track the actions of mobile users and optimize mobile campaigns. This may be news to those who first heard of mobile analytics when AdMob released their own solution this week, but it’s not revelatory to those of us who have been following the issue for a while.

What did come as a bit of a surprise was the desktop analytics providers’ involvement in mobile tracking and analytics. Dan Mason mentioned that he was working with Omniture in order to solve the problem of mobile tracking for ESPN sites, and all of the panelists agreed that mobile analytics was a temporary solution to a larger problem. While none of the major web analytics providers have robust mobile metrics or accurate tracking today, it may only be a matter of time before they do. In the interim, advertisers and site owners who want a better understanding of their mobile investment have no choice but to implement mobile analytics.

Are there any other desktop analytics representatives or marketers who are working with their desktop analytics provider to solve the problem of mobile tracking?

Mobile Search is Different
While much of the discussion on Monday focused on mobile analytics, we were fortunate to have Steve Ives from Taptu on the panel discussing mobile social search. Taptu is a mobile search engine that uses information from a user’s social networking activity in order to improve mobile search results. Because social networking is such a popular activity right now, particularly on mobile devices, Taptu is able to use a lot of that information in order to improve mobile search results. By doing this, and by serving mobile-only results, they end up providing a good result faster, and improving the mobile user experience. According to Steven, Taptu can provide a good result in about 35 seconds; where their nearest competitor provides a good result in over a minute.

As an SEO I’m interested primarily in how marketers can better target users with mobile social search. Steven says links are an unreliable signal in mobile search, as there’s very little cross-linking on the mobile web. As a result, it’s more difficult to index good content. Taptu doesn’t yet offer site submission, but you can currently submit content via email on their blog.

Users Want Mobile Content
In contrast to the recent discussion about the death of the mobile web, all of the panelists agreed that the mobile web is in fact alive and kicking. According to the panelists, Mobile Search traffic accounts for about 1-2% of total search traffic currently, but that’s 27 million searches per day.

Furthermore, of those that are searching, many of them are looking for mobile specific content, including those searching from iPods and smartphones. Because this number is growing, many of the panelists recommended mobile site creation as one thing brands can do now to become more visible in search today. And, of course, in order to understand what’s happening on that site: implementation of mobile analytics is necessary.

Overall it was an enjoyable discussion and I’m happy to have been a part of it. For more details, check out David Berkowitz’s live blog from Inside the Marketer’s Studio. By the way, David, no – I didn’t know you were hungry. I owe you a slice next time I’m in NY.

Posted by: Bryson Meunier, Product Champion, Natural Search


Copyright © 2008 Resolution Media, Inc. All rights reserved.