Using Google Mobile Ads and the Provision of Impulse-Based Local Services

The 800-pound search engine gorilla is at it again, shaking things up in the virtual world. This time it’s extending the reach of AdWords -its billion dollar contextual advertising system -to mobile devices.

Google’s new Mobile Ads system delivers two short lines of text and a third line containing a destination URL (and an optional “call” link that dials the advertiser’s business) to mobile phones and wireless PDAs. The text-based ad can be used to target mobile users in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany.

From an advertiser’s perspective, Mobile Ads is used in conjunction with Adwords. So, when someone searches Google from a PC the advertiser’s AdWords ad appears, but when searched on a mobile device the Mobile Ad appears. The advertiser should have a mobile-enabled website or landing page (written in XHTML, WML or CHTML), but theoretically Mobile Ads could be used simply to put a local business’ phone number in front of mobile users.

Now hometown advertisers can use Mobile Ads to lure prospective consumers to make local and, most importantly, impulse purchases.

Imagine a shop that advertises a time-based neighborly discount of 50% to local mobile users, who in turn drop what they are doing and head to the advertiser’s shop to make a purchase. Think of the possibilities for neighborhood businesses.

Google Ads is a giant step for location-based services.

Of course, it’s not as good as an advanced location-based service that uses embedded chip technology to send subscribers targeted discounts based on proximity to a shop -but, it’s nonetheless great that Mobile Ads can entice mobile users to pursue locality-based offers.

However, there are some general limitations.

First, even the most brilliant copyrighters/marketers would be hard-pressed to squeeze “motivation” into just two lines of text with 12 characters each. Second, mobile devices may not be conducive to the sort of on-the-spot analysis that most of us do when an offer interests us. We open another browser to search for alternatives, reviews, competitors, coupons, and other things to evaluate the offer -and even bookmark the advertiser’s site for follow up evaluation. Third, e-commerce check-out systems may prevent or frustrate mobile purchases.

In addition, people seem to use mobile phone searches primarily for amusement and to alleviate boredom. So, they would be searching for things like celebrity information, jokes, horoscopes, games, sports, techie info, and ringtones. Indeed, at least one major study of mobile search behavior (by Google, Columbia University and Carnegie Mellon University) supports this theory, indicating that many mobile phone searches relate to adult, entertainment and tech info. While there is evidence that wireless PDA users do search frequently for “local services,” I am not sure it’s prudent to assume they are also making purchases or visiting local merchants as a result of a search.

So, where does that leave us overzealous web owners?

If you own a website that offers “sticky” mobile content you could consider selecting the Mobile Ad option the next time you run an AdWords campaign. If you don’t offer mobile content, well, maybe you could use this as an opportunity to get a mobile-compliant website or landing page.

However, you might hold off on using Mobile Ads if you are looking to promote an ecommerce-based service -and especially a non-impulse service!

Of course, if you have an impulse or content offer I would start using Mobile Ads while the cost-per-click for various keywords is still low due to the newness of the program.

Finally, I should note that many wireless carriers have advanced location identification chips buried in their mobile handsets in order to meet the Federal Communications Commission’s E-911 public safety requirements.

It will be very interesting to see if Google finds a way to use that technology to further expand its services to include targeted, location-based advertising.

Ecommerce and the Motivation to Start

Ecommerce is the hinge that allows the online business door to swing wide open. This is the industry of cyber business. It goes beyond simply saying, “Look at me world, I have an idea. Doesn’t anyone care?” Ecommerce allows you to take your idea and connect it with consumers and your bank. It allows the free flow of commerce, your ideas, those who want to join you in what you are doing and a banking institution that can manage the electronic transfer of funds.

The overriding benefit of ecommerce is its low cost when compared to a brick and mortar storefront. However, an equally compelling benefit is the ability to appeal to a substantially larger consumer base.

Ecommerce can seem scary to those who have never dipped a toe into the waters of cyber sales. This can be likened to the apprehension some have felt over the use of a cell phone instead of a landline, a word processor instead a typewriter or a computer instead of an encyclopedia. These are not necessarily Luddites, but they do possess a fear over the use of something they don’t understand.

If you have an interest in ecommerce, but little interest in learning the skills to set up your online business there are online ecommerce solutions to help you get started. You can also use web builder technology to access many of the tools you will need to get started. These will typically be available with simple step-by-step instructions on the successful development of your ecommerce site.

One of the primary things you will need to know is that business transactions will typically be conducted electronically. What that means is you will not likely see cash or checks, but a simple notice (usually be email) that alerts you to deposits in a bank account or online financial institution such as PayPal.

Many larger online firms have further extended their sales potential by including Bill Me Later. This easy to use financial tool allows consumers to purchase something and defer payment in much the same way they might a credit card. The process for acceptance is simple and billing is handled by traditional mail, but can also be viewed via an online account by consumers.

Every day more tools are being made available to allow ecommerce to exist and thrive in an online environment.

What may seem ironic is even those who have attended college in the past, those who have encountered and conquered personal difficulties and those who have struggled through health difficulties may actually be the first to reject the idea of going into business online.

Yes, they have endured and conquered much, but they still view ecommerce as a hurdle that may be too much to manage.

The best suggestion I might make is to simply take the time to investigate some of the skills needed to conduct business online. Consider a few of the possibilities for an online business. Look through various online marketing ideas that others have used successfully. Pull each piece and view those fragments as puzzle pieces. When you have enough of them a bigger picture begins to emerge.

Ecommerce is possible and it isn’t something only those with great technical skills can use. It is for everyone. It may just be for you.

How’s Your “Ecabulary”? Shifting Our Perceptions of Words in the Ecommerce World

Megan, a college sophomore at Indiana University, punched her credit card number into a website with a mailing address somewhere in China. She needed to buy a new $800, 36″ plasma TV with FREE DELIVERY for her Sorority House. Seems that there was an “accident” that found the old TV in the bathtub wearing a pink tee shirt and a happy face drawn on it with lipstick–the day after a weekend “study party.”

Megan’s dad at home in Park Ridge, IL meanwhile, shreds enough junk mail daily to stuff enough scarecrows to protect all of Iowa’s corn crop, and he melts old credit cards on the stove and burns every other document that list his name-even the bill from the lawn mowing service for raking leaves. He believes that punching in a credit card into a computer is like giving his cash to the devil to buy coal. Too risky.

Generational differences in how ecommerce and communication online is perceived, accepted or not is a hot topic and the biggest challenge for marketers to get Megan’s dad to pony up his credit card to buy online, trust the system or sign up for a social media site and get hip, man. Like any other technology, change is unwelcome when it involves a lot of reprogramming the mind as well as the remote control. Simply suggesting a shift in how to view a topic can be enough to get a new dialogue started.

One way to define these differences in generational views of the web is to use a invented word to describe this phenomenon. Here it is: Ecabulary. Yes, it sounds more like a medical term describing a part of your lower gastro intestinal tract, yet it’s a easy way to differentiate some subtle and big shifts in psychology of using the ecommerce more each day.

Psychology and the internet–how we buy, sell , research, learn, listen, talk, etc. is still less than 20 years old. Concepts of trust, intimacy, emotions and expectations are falling under different levels of personal adjustment and acceptance based on demographics, gender, race, culture, religion, education, geography, as well as the sophistication level of one’s employer and the technology utilized in daily work.

Here’s a list of some examples of old vocabulary expectations and new ecabulary realizations highlights differences and perception of consumers regarding ecommerce.

Relationship-Elationship: We think of relationships in a more emotional aspect of the human connection: see, touch, smell, hear. We’re able to use all our tactile senses to size up relationships as they grow. Elationships are fragments of data, we don’t always know where, what, why, how or who that “someone is” behind the font or even the picture. Their voice to us is words. No inflection, cadence, accent, pacing, breathing, laughter, sadness, etc. We begin to form opinions of this someone from only a few clues-relying on our bias, stereotypes and level of intellect to form judgments or rationalize the situation. Trust and commitment is a deeper concern and lingers on.

Intimacy-Etimacy: Intimacy is a highly charged word in humans; a word saved for special things, special people and rarely used by us in a casual context. Intimacy in ecommerce can be dangerous to our emotional balance because we want to believe the person’s expressions and sincerity in whatever dialogue we’re having, yet the lack of tactile clues and belief of a viable, validated/legitimate peer leads to perpetual suspicion for many people. Etimacy is much more restrictive and guarded than what would be described as intimacy.

Authenticity-Ethenticity: Authentic suggests a certain grounded-ness and genuineness to something be it a product, food, recipes, friendships and the like. Ethenticity relative to products, services and social network relationships are missing parts of human touch and the chemistry that goes with it. Fragmented conversations, days between twitters, tweets and postings creates inconsistent messages, raising doubts to the authentic intentions of the relationships. Delayed gratification becomes a lost art.

Deal-Eal: Doing business, making a deal on a handshake and a promise is not part of our web world. Enter ecommerce and the “Eal.” No face, no handshake, no voice-only a PayPal logo, a security firewall that “looks authentic” and we give our credit card number to a stranger because the website looks legitimate, or should we say “egitimate?” Either way we’ve become more conditioned, even desensitized, to giving away data we long held in total secrecy unless we say the eyeballs of the person we’re making the deal.

Emotion-Eemotion: Similar to intimacy, emotion can be based on words written, photos that could be real or stock photos from Getty Images. Graphs, testimonials, a video presentation, as well can be 100% truthful, yet because no physical presence, a slight doubt can linger. No voice inflection, eye contact, sweat on the forehead, the broken arm in a cast, the child standing next to you. For us primates that have been programmed for face recognition, ecommerce is a challenge.

Opportunity-Epportunity: Suspicion hangs over ecommerce as long as deceptive people and thieves live on earth. Risk is ever-present and we continue to seek more checks and balances the higher the price tag goes. Brand name businesses have the edge in the trust factor.

Reputation-Eputation: Social networking sites are getting better at dismissing the fakes. LinkedIn and others have filters and kill switches that will cut out those who are reported as liars or deceptive. Big companies have an easier time selling their brand as legit than the plasma TV folks online in China, but this is changing.

Voice-Evoice: Tones, pitch, timbre, baritone, tenor, nasal, bass, soothing, irritating, authoritative, dimwitted-all describe human voice. Evoices lack the human element of comparing/contrasting and reference points. Evoices can’t elicit memories or help us retrieve clues to help us make decisions or confirm impressions. Evoice is hard to create a brand called “individual personality” or humanness that helps ground us. A customer service tech named Steve, living in India, is hard to accept for some skeptics living in Omaha.

Identity-Edentity: Like the Second Life site of make believe for adults, our identity outside ecommerce is composed of experiences we’ve left with others, as well as the residue we take with from them. Identity, as defined as “you” is complex and ever-changing in our perceptions of self as we grow, learn, love, fail, or succeed. Edentity can be made to be magically perfect. Flaws, faults, blemishes and age lines can be erased liked the ecommerce video ads wipe soap scum way in two seconds. One’s edentity can be intentionally or unconsciously fabricated to fit our modified public self we choose to present and leave the wrinkles and bad stuff off the record. Like the weight stated on your driver license: it never changes for some people.

Peers-Eers: Credentials, accomplishments, press, media exposure, pages on Google can suggest more power, fame-even wealth than is actually the case. Illusions abound and smoke and mirrors are on sale now. Peers know you one way, but Eers only see the face of the public relations spin and marketing angle whether be your Facebook, LinkedIn, your alumni bio, or your company profile. What appears on screen can be distorted and presumed to be something more or less than what the real person behind the credentials is all about. Good or bad, the consequences of basing decisions solely on Eers words can last a long time.

Perception-Erception: Like reputation and Relations, Perception is based on combined experiences a person has to form certain biases, or heuristic devices to make fast decisions. Ecommerce affords more tools to the intended marketer to sway or dis-sway a person from doing something without more data, clues or time to decide. “If you don’t purchase these tickets in 2 minutes, they will be put back into the For Sale slot.” Decide NOW!

Attitude-Ettitude: Attitude is courted by intention and self-confidence status. Ettitude can be masked and distorted with phrasing and pictures to persuade based on guilt, fear, loss, authority, scarcity, social proof, habit, consistency, among other elements of persuasion theory. Attitude when turned to Ettitude takes time to sort and define all the messages and intentions.

Energy-Egerny: Personal energy is more than physical activities like gestures, fast walk/run, facial movements, rate of speech, etc. Energy is an aura that surrounds a person in ways we can’t always define. Intellectual, sexual, athletic, business energies are all different. Egerny is subjective, and, once again, be manufactured to be what the provider wants to present. Like edited video tapes, different messages can come from the same mouth.

Credibility-Eredibility: Longevity, loyalty, success, value-all part of credibility. Eredibility relies on ecommerce policies and others to police the web to sort through the bad product and swindlers. Credibility remains with compelling value, stayed products and consistent reviews. Longevity in business is not a ecommerce value due to its adolescence age. Value is the operant word.

Behavior-Ehavior: Bad behavior/Bad ehavior all get noticed fast and word spreads even faster. Fortunately, some things remain the same.

Believe-Elieve: One phrase describes the similarities: Trust from other sources to confirm our impressions.

If you’re selling products and services via ecommerce, ask yourself these questions as you constantly revise your marketing/branding/deliverables via the latest technology:

1. Does our product or service marketing tools point to strong trust and consistency in the vocabulary/ecabulary of ecommerce?
2. Do we allow/encourage/direct the customer to utilize as many human senses as possible to experience our product/service to make a decision faster and confidently?
3. What can you do to add one more emotional trigger for the customer’s sense of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell that will keep their attention longer?
4. Is there a way to allow the customer to become more interactive and experiential in the purchase or review as they shop?

These four questions allow you to consider not only all the tactile potentiality of a customer’s needs, but encourages you to look for other add-ons of experience and tie-ins/alliances to secure all the senses. For example, offering free music downloads, humor utilizing with video or clever ads, coupons, videos that instruct, etc. seek out alliances and successful outlets that generate that certain buzz that you desire. Ride their wave, rent their waves if you have to.

Lastly, watch for themes, traditional events/celebrations and current events to tie the customers present sensory states that are being bombarded in our 24/7 world of news updates and tie your story and products/services into their real need right now.

Follow these ideas and you secure more revenue, er, evenue for your business from Megan…and her dad.