Four takeaways from Jonathan Pelosi’s Mobile Day keynote

Haven't optimized your site for mobile, but want to invest in an app? Not so fast, says Google's Jonathan Pelosi

Jonathan Pelosi

Jonathan Pelosi, head of mobile display solutions for Google, opened Marketing and the CMA‘s 2014 Mobile Day in Toronto on Monday.

Pelosi, a Canadian who worked in social strategy and web design before joining Google’s team in the U.S. in 2008, shared tips on converting customers across multiple screens. He also provided an overview on the state of mobile and advice on apps, the nuances of mobile behaviour and why tablets aren’t mobile.

Here are four takeaways from the talk.

Go mobile before you invest in an app

Before a brand or retailer invests in an app, they should optimize their desktop site for mobile, according to Pelosi. Consumers are more likely to search for a brand via their mobile browser than they are through an app store, so it’s likely your site is their first entry point on mobile.

Once a company invests in a mobile site, it can then consider whether an app will drive sales. “Apps cater to the most loyal, die-hard users and that’s where the utility is greatest,” Pelosi said.

Your app should have a purpose

Don’t create an app for the sake of having one. Pelosi said the most successful, best-rated apps by brands offer the consumer specific utilities. For example, the American pharmacy chain Walgreen’s created an app that gives customers a barcode for their prescriptions. Instead of waiting to have their prescription filled out, the customer has their barcode scanned, dramatically reducing wait times.

Banks are especially good at offering utility in their apps, Pelosi said. He cited CIBC, which lets consumers deposit cheques using their smartphone camera and shows them where the closest ATM is by checking their phone location.

Tablets aren’t mobile

Though tablets have long been grouped together with smartphones, Pelosi said they are used in very different ways by consumers and demand their own category. Consumers most commonly use their tablets at home, he said, while they constantly use smartphones on the go.

Because of this, Pelosi said marketers should track smartphones and tablets separately and tweak their strategy for reaching consumers based on the type of mobile device they are using.

Time and location matter in mobile search

Time and location are key factors to consider when serving mobile search ads, Pelosi said. For example, if a consumer is searching for McDonald’s in the morning, the restaurant should be serving ads for its breakfast menu, not a Big Mac.

The same goes for location. If a national retailer has a city-specific promotion, it should only be serving ads for the promotion to users from that region.

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