Search Marketing Influencer Series: Jeremy Kressmann – Part 2

Oct
26
2015

Continuing our conversation with Jeremy Kressmann, Founder & CEO of Wanderlust Strategy Group, a marketing consultancy supporting the travel industry and related media brands. Prior to founding Wanderlust, Mr. Kressmann was a market research analyst at eMarketer, specializing in digital advertising trends around local search, ecommerce, and mobile.

Let’s dive back into this… What makes the mobile search experience so unique?
Simply put, mobile has transformed the user experience of paid search into something more personalized – transforming not only what and where, but also how searches are made and results are delivered. Compared to desktop conversions, native mobile experiences have the potential to be much more powerful.

Consider the use of applications native to mobile devices wherein something special can feasibly happen at any time alongside a call or related in-device action. The growing use of voice activated services (like Siri, Iris, Alexa) is an excellent example of this, as are response-driven tactics like couponing, ‘click to call,’ or ‘click to purchase’ calls to action. The benefit here is that all results can link directly back to marketing campaigns, making mobile search a compelling resource for both local businesses and their (prospective) customers.

There is a specific challenge to this very bright mobile search future: the attribution equation – linking mobile performance to the rest of local search. Who is making inroads in this space?
In terms of monetizing the proverbial “last mile,” Google and others (YP℠ included) are working on the attribution part of the equation, via innovations like deploying buy buttons on results pages, displaying local inventory, etc. However, platforms cannot solve this challenge alone. Local businesses need to get involved, fortifying and optimizing their back end platforms to make in-store sales models and related tracking systems work together seamlessly. There’s a significant opportunity here for YP as well as other marketing automation firms to collaborate on addressing the evolving needs of local customers.

Any attribution examples to share?
More than just attribution, integration of local search with other related services (apps or otherwise) is the key here. I suspect the space will blur somewhat as more data players get into the local game. A perfect example of this are integrations like Open Table, Book via Yelp, and the Uber API port function. Integration is the mantra – and it’s not just about retail, as service-oriented businesses, like the examples mentioned above, are starting to close the attribution gap through integration as well.

Let’s talk about apps, as they keep coming up in your comments in relation to search. Other search experts in this series have suggested that specialized functions of search beyond discovery are migrating away from main search services to apps.
Lots of analysts are pondering what the future of search holds, specifically in the area of in-app use. Right now, eMarketer sees 70-80% of user time spent in apps vs. via the mobile web. However, many attribute a large portion of mobile app usage directly to Facebook and other addictive social experiences.

That said, tracking search behavior as it varies between general mobile web search vs. in-app search is now becoming even more critical. The reason users may prefer in-app searches may be the ability for apps to add extra layers of “power user” functionality – like advanced filters – to help them find exactly what they’re looking for. Not to say that this isn’t possible through general browser searches (it is!), but results are not always displayed in an equally seamless, elegant, or efficient way. The siphoning of search traffic into apps is, therefore, due in part to this ability for apps to truly personalize search results for each user.

Jury is still out, though. Although we’re seeing more and more in-app searches happening today – with a perceived preference for doing so – that may not necessarily be the user experience gold standard in the future. As technology and platforms evolve, so does the end user experience.

Interesting. So do we have an overemphasis on apps right now? Is there an ‘in-between’ possible among app and browser use?
While apps are a dominant interface layer on mobile devices, there area lot of challenges with how we use them. Consider how users move between apps.  If I want to move from YP to Yelp to Foursquare, there’s no smooth and simple way to do it. It’s still a bit of a clunky experience. We will eventually evolve into something more elegant – through deeper integrations with other apps and device platforms – but we’re not quite there yet.

One small step towards better integration is the need for more deep linking – specifically, the ability of major search players, including the likes of YP and Google, to index more content within various mobile apps. Developers need to allow search engines to get inside their apps and related services, otherwise it may be difficult for users to easily find this information unless they specifically go into that app to do a search.
Next up in Part 3 – Jeremy will detail more on where local search is heading in 2016, including the use of predictive applications over standard search discovery.

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