Rich Search Ads Hold Promise, But...

[Posted by Neil Strother]

A quick note to say a new report is up regarding marketers experimenting with rich ads (images and video) in search: "Rich Search Ads: Too Early For Most Advertisers" (available in full to Forrester clients).

The promise of these newer search ads is greater user engagement while on a search results page. The user can view product photos, watch a short video clip, or get to detailed information quicker, such as an insurance rate quote. We like the idea. These richer formats can help facilitate transactions, as well as put brand elements at key decision points.

But the major search engines (Google and Yahoo!) have so far restricted access to these rich formats to a select few advertisers, and the formats themselves are still under development. Some early results have been favorable, but how these rich formats do over time is still unclear. For now, most search marketers can delay significant spending until more results are available and the buying process becomes more automated.

What do you think? Do rich search ads make sense for your brand? Will rich search ads become part of your future plans? Post a comment below.

Marketers' Interest in Mobile Coupons Unabated

[Posted by Neil Strother]

Mobile coupons continue to spark interest among marketers and vendors alike. The notion of marrying digital coupons with cell phones is just too powerful, especially in a sluggish economy. The latest moves:

  • JC Penney is testing a new 2D barcode scanning system at its stores in the Houston area
  • HipCricket is introducing a new point-of-sale (POS) system to help simplify the redemption process for retailers and quick-serve restaurants
  •  M-Dot Network is promoting a new POS platform for retailers

These are all positive signs pointing to a healthy future for mobile coupons - which, as I said in an earlier report (available in full to Forrester clients), should be part of a retailer's strategy. But, admittedly, these are interim steps leading to a time when mobile coupons become much more common.

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Phonevalley and Microsoft Turn Up Mobile Marketing Heat

[Posted by Neil Strother]

Microsoft and Phonevalley - a Publicis Groupe agency - have announced a deal to push mobile marketing to new heights.

The deal calls for creating customized mobile ads, technology and metrics that will run across Microsoft's mobile Web properties (Bing, Microsoft Media Network and MSN). The packaged offerings will concentrate on six verticals: luxury, retail, entertainment, automotive, financial services and travel. The products will be offered in 14 global markets, including the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

This deal further binds a relationship between the software giant and Publicis. Just last month, Paris-based Publicis agreed to acquire digital agency Razorfish from Microsoft.

So, what does this mean? It is the type of focus the mobile market needs to attract more advertising dollars. Can this partnership truly move the needle? I think so. These two have the market heft to make a significant difference. Remember, Microsoft has a mobile search and ad deal with Verizon Wireless. The opportunity is there. Now they (Phonevalley-MS) need to execute and not screw it up. Google is ever lurking.

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Mobile Numbers Tell an Interesting Story

[Posted by Neil Strother]

Some interesting numbers you might have missed in the past few days. VeriSign said it delivered a record 94.8 billion mobile messages (SMS, MMS, A2P) worldwide in the second quarter, up more than 82% from the same quarter a year ago.

OK, but now the clincher: the company delivered nearly 179 billion messages globally in the first half of the year. To put this into perspective, that equates to 26 messages for every person on the planet (6.7 billion). Staggering.

Premium content (alerts, ringtones, voting, etc.) also rose, with premium SMS transactions growing 36% in the quarter compared to the second quarter of 2008, VeriSign said. Marketers continue to recognize that SMS is the most efficient way to reach a wide audience on mobile, something we pointed out in our recent report on best practices for mobile marketing. So, in spite of all the hype surrounding marketing via mobile applications - which we like, mind you - text messaging still delivers the reach.

What do you think? Post a comment below.