Mobile Internet Search to become 'a Marketing Opportunity' in South Africa

The use of cellphones for internet searches is growing as a trend in SA, with an estimated 25% of all search queries on Google SA coming from them, says ad sales agency Acceleration Media. Diane Charton, MD of Acceleration Media, said on Friday the growth of mobile searches in SA is a major opportunity for marketers, provided they tailor their approach to suit the medium. "Mobile and traditional PC (personal computer) searches show peaks at different times on any given day," she said. "Most PC-targeted pay-per-click campaigns peak at lunchtime in query volume and then taper off until the end of the working day. By contrast, mobile search queries rise throughout the day and peak during TV prime time in the evening. "The effect is particularly pronounced when a mobile search campaign is linked to a television advertising campaign. We call this the couch search trend - people who don't have PCs at home or who don't want to leave their lounge to go to the computer in the study and use their cellphones instead." The growth in mobile searches can be linked to the number of smartphones in use. Ms Charton estimates they account for about 15% of all cellphones in use. Ms Charton said Acceleration Media is seeing more consistent volumes through mobile searches than through desktop searches. "What this means is mobile search allows you to reach users at times of the day when they are not at their PCs," she says. Users also use the two media differently. "A user in front of a desktop computer might be considering a big purchase and take the time out to do some in-depth research. A mobile user usually wants to get a hit of relevant information straight away." She uses the example of an executive who arrives early in Sandton for a meeting. He may use his phone to find a convenient coffee shop with internet access or look up directions Ms Charton said mobile campaigns deliver great value for money because there are fewer competitors bidding for popular key words on searches via mobile. "This could change as more people get on the bandwagon, but for now, return on investment from the mobile search is very attractive," she said. A study by World Wide Worx released in February found that three-quarters of South African companies supplied smartphones in their organisations, compared with almost none two years before. The study, also backed by First National Bank and BlackBerry developer Research In Motion, found that saturation point had almost been reached at large South African companies in fixed-line and ordinary cellphone use. About 94% of large companies were using 3G cards. (Source: Business Day)