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What will mobile marketing look like in 2012?

There were a few major trends in the mobile industry that will play a big role in determining how 2012 will pan out for mobile marketers, brands, agencies and media companies.

When 2011 started most brands and retailers already had a presence in mobile. Whether through SMS, mobile Web, apps or any of the other mobile channels, brands and retailers had one foot through the door.

"It?s hard to believe, but as far as the industry has come in 2011, we?re still in the earliest chapters of mobile?s story," said Karim Temsamani, vice president of mobile ads at Google, Mountain View, CA.

"The ways people connect to businesses on their mobile devices and the tools they?re using to connect from them progressed by leaps and bounds this year and soon, we?ll see the mainstream shift that changes the way mobile connects people with brick-and-mortar storefronts as well," he said.

"Mobile will be moving full speed ahead in 2012 so keep those sleeves rolled-up and those seatbelts fastened - we?ll see you then."

In 2011 brands and retailers focussed on how to expand their mobile presence in a way that would put them top of mind with consumers. Also, mobile was recognized as a service channel, with companies focusing their efforts on using the medium to some how help consumers save time or money.

Going mobile
Everyone went mobile in 2011, according to Google.

"Smartphones and tablets proved that they weren?t just for the geekiest - er, tech savviest - among us," Mr. Temsamani said. "These devices are increasingly becoming the norm and they continue to change how people connect with each other, and with businesses, everywhere."

According to research Google conducted with IPSOS in 2011, 79 percent of smartphone consumers use their phones to help with shopping, from comparing prices, to finding more product info, to locating a retailer.

Additionally, 70 percent use their smartphones while in a store, 77 percent have contacted a business via mobile, with 61 percent calling and 59 percent visiting the local business.

"It?s not just that more people are using smartphones and tablets (though the numbers are skyrocketing at an accelerating pace)?it?s that a huge, and fast-growing base of smartphone users, now expect to engage with businesses on mobile," Mr. Temsamani said.

"The mainstream consumer got mobilized in 2011," he said.

Mobile search changes shopping
There is no question on whether mobile search has transformed shopping forever.

Mobile search trends help better understand how people use their mobile devices.

"For starters, we learned a lot about the ?timing? of mobile and tablets," Mr. Temsamani said. "These devices enable us to be constantly connected to the Internet, as mobile usage has proven to be complementary to the desktop. 

We got a clearer picture of how search is changing the ways we shop and connect with businesses," he said. "More people are looking for deals both en route to stores and within them on mobile."

In fact, Black Friday-related mobile queries were more than 200 percent higher this year than in 2010.
Additionally, consumers developed some mobile-specific shopping habits.

Mobile advertising progresses
"As an industry, we came a long way in terms of improving the ?pipes? - the systems, products and technologies that advertisers use to build, serve, and measure mobile ads," Mr. Temsamani said. "It?s still early days, but the progress with standards like MRAID and the momentum behind HTML5, are helping to rally the mobile community and make it easier for marketers and customers to connect on the platform.

"Getting existing tools to ?speak mobile? has been another key to helping mobile advertising grow-up as quickly users and businesses want it to," he said. "Across search and display, the tools the industry is already familiar with are getting mobilized.

"There?s plenty of work still to do, but significant progress is being made - watch this space in 2012."

Tablets join the party
Tablets made quite a splash this year. People use these devices to shop, consume media, have fun, and they do so most frequently in the evenings.

Tablets are a third screen that marketers need to pay attention to.

Google saw a 440 percent growth in traffic from tablets in November 2011 compared to December 2010 on the AdMob network.

The business potential is tremendous, according to Google.

"Not only are users more inclined to shop and make purchases on tablets, but because campaigns can be more effective running across several screens instead of one, tablets offer an incremental opportunity for marketers," Mr. Temsamani said.

"Smartphones and tablets aren?t small desktop computers - they?re new devices being used in entirely new ways," he said. "This year, businesses began to embrace this at scale and many saw good things happen when they built ad campaigns and websites specifically for mobile.

"Ticketsnow?s success with a mobile optimized site - increased site traffic, and more ticket sales - is just one example of the benefits of building for mobile. Initiatives like GoMo and platform-specific ad features will help businesses better connect with mobile customers in the coming months, and beyond."