Google (and Mullen) encourage agencies to “go mobile.”

Utility over messages; one great example is University of Alabama's mobile site, feature GameDay functionality and traffic reports so you don't miss kickoff and tailgating.

I just got back from my first trip to Mobile, Alabama. For most people an inaugural visit to the original home of Mardi Gras would be to hear some really good Dixie Land Jazz. And while I did get in some of that, the purpose in this case was to help Google get all, or at least 500, local businesses optimized for mobile.

To its credit Google and the competent folks at Duda Mobile agreed to Mobilize Mobile, creating optimized sites for free and covering hosting for a full year. The effort makes sense for both Google and the recipient small businesses. Ad Words ads that show up on a Google search made from a smart phone become a lot more effective when they link to a site that “searchers” find useful and easy to navigate. Everybody wins – Google, the business, and most importantly, the user.

The program, going on this week, includes two days of seminars, training, and site conversion along with a little bit of evangelizing. I had some responsibility for the latter, presenting to 200 ad agency and brand folks last night at an event held at Red Square Agency. 

Jason Spero, director of mobile at Google spoke first, covering trends and insights that leave no doubt about the proliferation of devices, changes in search behavior and a plethora of other uses. My job was to remind ad agencies that they need to jump on this opportunity full force while it is still early enough not to be late. An awful lot of advertising agencies were caught off guard with the pace of change brought on by all things digital. Many missed it out again when social media altered consumer behavior forever. Mobile is bigger than either of the previous disruptions and will inevitably affect every section of the purchase funnel, from awareness to loyalty. You don’t want to miss out on this one.

A couple of key facts are worth noting. First from Jason: “The consumer is adopting mobile and all that it offers far more quickly than brands, marketers and small businesses.” That alone should be enough to wake up any agencies or brands that haven’t put the newest digital movement at the forefront of their marketing efforts.

Second, from a conversation I had a few months ago with Joe Ferra, head of Fidelity’s mobile marketing: “Fifty percent of Fidelity trades, transactions and inquiries will soon be made from a mobile device.”  That’s a wake-up call to anyone who thinks this is all about  for 18—24 year olds.  Doubt many of them are trading equities with Fidelity.

And finally, the battle for mobile payments, about to escalate as Google, Apple, American Express all vie for dominance, will end up creating numerous opportunities for retailers. We’ll know who’s in the store, when they were last there, their past purchase behaviors and their current loyalty status. Doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see the opportunities in that.

Anyway, below is my presentation. (Or here’s a version with a few notes attached.) Up here in Massachusetts we give the presentations first, then open the bar and start partying. On the Gulf Coast, they party first — kicking out a few jazz tunes and making sure everyone has a drink or two before they invite the presenters up on stage.

But this alternative sequence made my argument for mobile sites even more convincing.  If you think it’s tough to pinch, zoom and navigate an unfriendly mobile site when you’re totally sober, try it after a couple of drinks.  Can you imagine searching from your smart phone for events on Mobile’s Mardi Gras site next February if it’s not optimized for mobile?

If you have a chance, visit the warm welcoming city of Mobile. It’s a happening town. Reminds me of Austin. And for the best grits there, try True’s.


Fantastic ideas... Yes, I think going mobile is perfect because you can update the necessary things even if you are away. Thanks for the info.


Great presentation, very informative and I totally agree about going beyond the app. If you can do everything on the browser then why download an app which in most cases you'll end up using once to twice.