The Move to Mobile: Many Forward Thinkers Believe in ‘Mobile First’
The recent news about mobile is coming from the content side of the business because of three recent announcements by tech giants. First Google stopped politely suggesting site owners to become mobile friendly and with their Mobilegeddon update they decided to start demanding compliance instead.
Then Twitter obviated Meerkat’s technology by buying and releasing Periscope as an app within the Twitterverse capable of turning any mobile device into a live video-broadcasting device.
Finally Microsoft made some mobile noise of its own by releasing Windows technology that allows cellphone users to turn any monitor into a dumb screen for their mobile phone, ushering in an era where your phone, a keyboard and a screen may soon replace the desktop computer completely.
Given these huge changes, XBIZ World asked industry insiders to unravel each of them and provide guidance for site owners seeking to allocate their resources in the most effective way possible.
After paying close attention to several reports that have been coming out regarding the effects of the so called Mobilegeddon update, we weren’t able to see drastic changes on the mobile universe,” Miguel Ribeiro of Mobidea.com told XBIZ. “Especially if we consider two things: First, latest studies were showing that 40 percent of sites on the web we’re not mobile friendly which is a huge number, and second, that Google is not one to usually make such big announcements like this one. Of course, there will always be websites that feel some difference. However, the overall picture is looking quite the same.”
Conversely, some insiders like Joey Gabra, managing director of Affil4You.com, believes the impact is still building momentum.
“Google’s Mobilegeddon is very real and should be taken quite seriously. In some cases the effects are taking place slowly and in many other cases the effects are happening quickly and having quite a negative impact on those sites that haven’t given enough consideration to their mobile strategy,” Gabra told XBIZ. “It is proof of what so many of us in the mobile space had been saying for a long time ... it is time to think ‘mobile first’!”
As Kelan Stone, director of sales at Grand Slam Media, told XBIZ, “This has been a long time coming. Grand Slam has always suggested publishers optimize their mobile site. In certain cases we’ve built the mobile site for them, simply to avoid them being punished by Google and to keep the business moving forward. I haven’t noticed any riots or lack of suite parties due to Mobilegeddon; Google is going to have to do more than that so slow us down.” Still, the news that Google made this kind of an announcement is news in and of itself as well.
“It’s unfortunate that Google can snap its fingers and change how publishers operate their websites,” complained Jay, founder of JuicyAds.com. “Google in a way is the Internet in many people’s minds, so it’s no surprise that people are doing their best to jump through every hoop possible to get free search traffic. In the future there will be no advantage because everyone will simply have a mobile website, or something will happen that makes needing a separate mobile website (or desktop, for that matter) irrelevant.”
Speaking of desktop irrelevance, IDC predicted a drop of nearly 5 percent in desktop users this year, which is a downward revision from their earlier projection of a 3.3 percent decline. That equates to roughly 293.1 million PC units being shipped this year. Apple has already sold more than 74 million iPhones in the last quarter alone. That means the iPhone may out-sell desktop computers all by itself next year. Now add in the number of Android and other devices flooding the mobile market and it becomes clear that user habits are rapidly evolving. Meanwhile at Microsoft’s BUILD conference, the company announced Microsoft Continuum, which is an initiative to have developers build new software in a completely device-agnostic manner. So the program you run on your phone or tablet is exactly the same as the one being built for a desktop computer. All of this suggests we are heading toward a world where the vast majority of people no longer own a computer in the box under your desk sense of the word — yet the people may know best from the adult industry are still cynical about all the hype.
“It’s no secret that mobile devices are being bought at a much more rapid pace than PCs and tablets,” Ross of TrafficForce.com told XBIZ. “We see now that more than 55 percent of our total traffic to our sites is coming from a phone and I only expect that to increase. However, I still think we are a long way off the point of desktops being rendered useless, but the need for them is not going to grow much in the near future, if ever again. Apple are bringing out a larger version of their iPad, I’m interested to see what that will do for the industry as I feel the normal size iPad is quite big already, so a larger version could be big for us but time will tell.
Richard Cottrell, ExoClick’s global sales director, told XBIZ “This move is an attempt for Microsoft to stay in the game and its success depends on developer adoption and the creation of apps and software to see if the concept has an impact. Right now phone hardware isn’t built to deliver full-on desktop interfaces, and of course Microsoft’s Lumia range could be the first devices to deliver this, but whether this increases Windows market share or other device manufacturers develop compatible hardware remains to be seen.”
“I believe there will always be a need for a larger format (desktop) type of device ... especially for power-users,” added Gabra. “However Windows is clearly on a path blurring the lines between what might be considered mobile, tablet, or desktop. In my opinion, Windows is taking a clever and innovative approach to helping the average user consolidate their devices all into one happy place. Windows has now also made it possible for users to install iOS and Android apps onto their Windows devices ... where users can now benefit from the best of all three worlds.”
“The huge and fast paced revolution that mobile devices are bringing to the business world in the last years is undeniable. So to imagine a world where business is conducted solely via mobile devices is quite easy,” Ribeiro said. “Especially when we start thinking off all the advantages that they bring: mobility, quicker replies, instant access to information at anytime, thousands of different tools (apps) to assist on daily basis tasks, 24/7 connection with everyone. This is something that is already happening today, meaning that it’s not about if we will reach that point of full mobile mode, but when.
Consequently, the biggest changes I can assume that we will quickly notice are exactly two: consistent increase of productivity in companies and their employees, accompanied by the inability for people to disconnect which will bring without any doubt several different serious problems, but that’s a different topic for another day.
“It’s no secret that mobile is growing and becoming a more competitive market. If you’re asking me if I feel desktop will soon be obsolete, I don’t think so. Grand Slam can simply continue to adapt to the constant curve balls this industry throws at you and come out swinging,” Kelan Stone, director of sales at Grand Slam Media told XBIZ.
That sounds good to anyone seeking normalcy, but can anyone afford to become complacent when wearable mobile devices are coming to market? The Apple Watch has gotten plenty of publicity, but will its impact be long lasting?
“Don’t even get me started on the Apple Watch. Ask Joey Gabra about that shit,” joked Jay, founder of JuicyAds.com.
So we asked Joey...
“I think the Apple Watch and possibly all other high end smart watches are just scratching the surface for what we can do in terms of us relying less on our actual phones to enjoying a bit more freedom with a simple glance at our wrists,” Joey responded. “Although I also think this opens the door for some fun new ways users can interact and engage with certain types of content or products. This will be another fun technology to watch unfold over the coming months ahead.”
In all seriousness, “It would be foolish to not sit up and take notice of the Apple Watch, or any form of wearables. Apple has already sold more units of their watch than all other smart watch companies have done combined,” Ross noted. “With every new piece of technology, someone always finds a way to generate revenue from it and I don’t see the smart watch being any different, I think it’s probably too late in the year to make a significant dent in anything in 2015, but in 2016 it will be interesting to see how our industry evolves around smart watches.”
“There is always something new coming out, it’s simply whether you’re the first to take advantage of it or not,” according to Kelan Stone. “My suggestion would be to keep an eye on Adnium.com, it’ll give you a better understanding of some of the new technologies being released and the future of self serve platforms.”
What about the recent release of Periscope by Twitter?
“I think that the new tech like Periscope could really make things interesting over the coming months. We haven’t really seen yet what we can get away with on Periscope because I don’t think it has been pushed to the limit,” reported Gabra. “So, it is exciting to see if they or someone like them can create some fun new experiences for mobile users to enjoy.”
Ribeiro gave an example of the work being done to stay ahead of the curve, even as the pace of new technology releases continues to escalate.
“Our online analyst team is constantly analyzing big data, checking performances by country, operating system, carrier, devices, browsers and more. The support itself, being desktop or mobile does not matter at the end. A media buyer will always buy more traffic where he’s making money and that depends on several key factors that are taken into account like the type of offers he’s promoting, or even the billing method on that offer. For example, in our case we buy large amounts of all types of traffic from the main ad networks.
“It was through our continuous deep analysis that we’ve noticed that Opera mini represents a solution for the offers we have and at the same time that traffic happens to be very cheap, probably because not many people are going for it right now. So, from our point of view Opera mini is a gold mine! The reason is because a carrier or device always represents a good opportunity from the moment where the cost of the traffic is under the revenue generated which is normal ... but in order to generate revenue, you need the right offers or platform to do the segmentation. That is why at Mobidea, we engaged this opportunity at the right time to optimize it to its fullest extent and it’s also a way to find other opportunities.”
“The phablet segment is huge, especially when Apple entered this market and these larger screen devices do bridge the gap between mobile and tablet,” explained Cottrell. “But you have to remember that experiences on each device are slightly different and by Microsoft actually developing cross-device technology, it shows that they too believe that desktop is not finished yet. One should not discount advertising for smart TVs when talking about devices and ExoClick is seeing good potential growth here also. Looking at the future the industry will also have to consider innovative devices such as Oculus Rift and Sonys Morpheus which will provide a completely new experience not just for content but also for ad immersion and targeting.”
With so many changes being announced from so many different tech leviathans at the same time, is there any way for site owners to future-proof their enterprises? “Have a son and raise him to be an executive at Google,” said Stone. “Other than that, keep growing your site” and let real mobile traffic professionals assist you with the aspects of the industry that they are best positioned to monetize for you.