opinion

Mobile Traffic: Leading The Market Or Falling Behind?

Stewart Tongue

Mobile traffic continues to generate much better sales rations than desktop traffic, and while the overall volume has not yet equalized, even on a smaller amount of traffic mobile can outperform larger desktop impression acquisitions by a very wide margin.

The issue for marketers is now the fact that the value of mobile traffic is no longer a surprise to site owners. Where some naive site owners had been willing to sell off their mobile traffic as redirects from their sites for pennies compared to what those clicks were worth (basing their prices on a false desktop equivalence), these days there are far more buyers than sellers for high quality low cost mobile clicks.

Marketing features for mobile advertising are almost the same as what we can find for desktop strategies, but the main interest and most valuable data about 3G traffic is the fact that the user has connected a whole personal app, contacts and other details that are quite tempting for online merchants. -Alex Lecomte, StarEdition.com

“The importance of mobile traffic is definitely on the rise,” said Robert of LemmeCheck.com. “From our own stats it’s plain to see that mobile was only 10 percent of our traffic two years ago, then when we added a secondary mobile site it increased to about 12 percent. Last year we switched several sites to a responsive design and within weeks we were seeing 30 percent of our traffic coming in from mobile or tablet traffic. The fact is, having a responsive design increases your traffic by giving viewers what they want, and also makes purchase decisions more intuitive in many instances, especially with traffic from the E.U.”

The rising pricing on mobile clicks has lead many to look more closely at ways to generate or convert mobile traffic effectively in-house. In some cases it’s as simple as narrowing the focus from dozens of devices to the small handful that actually matter most.

“A common mistake of site owners is to optimize for all mobile devices as if they were dumb phones from 10 years ago,” said C.R. Brown, aka “Kroy,” owner of Kroy.com. “Oversimplified and underwhelming are terms that come to mind. Users demand options and an intuitive user experience. A webmaster must know his stats and will likely find that the vast majority of mobile users come from only a handful of devices — applying the 80/20 rule. Apple iPhone is likely in the top slot. Samsung Galaxy 3 and 4, as well as the last 2 generations of iPad are usually high on the list as well.”

In fact, according to the newest statistics published by ComScore, the iPhone still holds 41 percent of the overall smartphone market with Samsung at 26.7 percent, LG at 6.9 percent, Motorola at 6.4 percent and HTC trailing in at 5.4 percent. Of course, every site is unique and you need to look at your own stats on a per site basis to see how your visitors are viewing your site, but the disparity can be very significant. If some obscure mobile browser is 1 percent of your traffic, any resources you allocate to optimizing for it could likely be better applied to some other task instead.

Kroy also explained “These few devices often comprise the majority of possible screen resolutions and browser choices for most of your traffic. So sites should be user friendly and prepare to look great on those devices. Find a good trade-off between options and usability. With those high-resolution, larger screens, a lot more of your content and navigation can fit on screen than just a few years ago mobile optimizations must also include the video side of things — if you only offer Flash and WMVs, that’s simply not enough. Your users should be able to stream your videos without having to do anything except hit the play button. Making someone choose formats based on his device is too much to ask.”

Simplifying the interface with responsive design and crafting a quality mobile interface allows your mobile traffic to enjoy the full expression of your site. Nobody will pay for a clunky interface and archaic design when they can already get a pretty good offering from any number of free mobile tube sites. To generate traffic, retain users and convert visitors into customers, your site on one of the top mobile devices should be as enjoyable as it would be to use on a big screen television, albeit a bit smaller.

Beyond screen size or design cues, mobile also presents a number of other variables that matter much more for handheld visitors than desktop customers. When a user is likely to visit, where they are during a visit and things of that nature become important factors. Very few people, if any, have ever gone to a porn site from their office bathroom with a computer desktop, while that sort of browsing behavior is common among mobile viewers. That pattern makes things like fine-tuning volume control especially valuable.

“The flow of mobile traffic is also different from desktop users because of the size of the screen, the relation the user has with his device and the timing of when he is using it,” said Alex Lecomte, marketing manager for StarEdition.com. “The simple fact that some sites are now available through an app, which is way easier to navigate through a mobile device, also plays an important role. One trend that is notable is the volume per geographic area. We can see that many users from Latin America, Africa and Asia are primarily using a smartphone or feature phone to navigate. Tablet traffic also allows us to reach a whole new generation of web surfers, as older people will naturally prefer to use a simple mobile device instead of a more complex computer desktop.”

Parsing demographics differently with geo-targeting techniques designed to make purchase decisions simpler is a key to greater conversions. Are your European mobile viewers able to buy a site with a couple clicks and no credit card? Is your mobile tour available in the languages that match the expectations of your global audience? Can your site be enjoyed by someone who has the brightness turned down to conserve battery? The rise of mobile traffic profitability should be spurring your development team to ask these kinds of questions and provide innovative answers.

“Marketing features for mobile advertising are almost the same as what we can find for desktop strategies, but the main interest and most valuable data about 3G traffic is the fact that the user has connected a whole personal app, contacts and other details that are quite tempting for online merchants,” Lecomte said.

Opt-in access to contacts lists, one-click payment options and other information of that kind was at best a distant dream during the desktop era of adult entertainment. Now, many users are happy to provide a lot of useful information if it results in a better user experience. Look at the kind of data users share with Facebook, Google and other platforms as examples of where the technology will take online commerce — then look at your own mobile strategy and see if your company is leading the market or falling behind.

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