Why Mobile Matters: Multi-Device Trends And Opportunities

Everyone involved with online advertising and marketing knows the mobile as all the rage these days. So is all the hype justified?


Over the last few years the rise of mobile has come to represent a sea change in the world of digital marketing. With the vast majority of people no longer leaving home without their smartphones, and relying on their devices to get them through the day, it’s critical for businesses to build out their online presence to accommodate this new reality of multi-device usage. Ignoring the platform is simply no longer an option as mobile functionality advances and users become more and more comfortable using the smartphones to search, compare, and complete purchases.


A few stats:  (Source: Google, data from USA/2013 / Pew Research Study, 2014 / WebDam Solutions, 2014)

  • As of May 2013, 63% of adult cell owners use their phones to go online.
  • 34% of users consider mobile to be their primary method for going online.
  • 92% of users use their smartphone to access the internet every day
  • 46% of users have completed a purchase on their smartphone
  • 34% of users say they’re using their smartphones more now than six months ago
  • 1.4 billion smartphone users in 2013
  • Mobile will generate 400 billion in revenue by 2015, compared with 139 billion in 2012
  • The majority of internet searches will come from mobile by early 2015

As a result of this growing user dependance on multi-device usage, mobile pay-per-click advertising continues to accelerate rapidly:


Growing mobile ad spend by company



Growing mobile ad spend
These figures illustrate the reality I mentioned at the top: Mobile simply cannot be ignored. However, the importance of this channel goes beyond the need for reach. Mobile also accommodates users in ways desktop does not or cannot:


  • Location-based searches – Many users rely on their phone to find what they need on the go. This gives businesses the opportunity to reach them right when it matters most. Consider a restaurant advertising within a twenty mile radius of their location with an AdWords ad featuring a coupon for that night’s special. This will have particularly high appeal to a mobile user who’s in the vicinity and looking for a dinner solution fast!

Mobile drives conversions



  • In-Store comparisons — Google estimates that 84% of smartphone users use their device to comparison shop while in-store. What’s more, 90% of smartphone users use their phone to do pre-shopping research.
  • Finding actual locations and directions — 58% of smartphone users use their devices to locate this information. 57% use devices to find store hours.

In spite of these figures, many brands still take the antiquated approach of optimizing for desktop use only, undervaluing mobile as an effective advertising channel, and failing to build a measurement model which addresses the complexity of the user path to conversion.

Not only do many people use their smartphones to search and complete purchases online, but users increasingly use more than one device to navigate the conversion funnel. For example, researching a product on their smartphones, and later converting on desktop.


Primary ways in which businesses fall short with mobile:

  • No mobile-optimized website — This is huge. The importance of having a fully functional and easily navigable mobile site cannot be overstated. 57% of users say they would not recommend companies with non-mobile-optimized sites.
  • Undervaluing mobile’s contribution to the conversion funnel — Because of the degree to which people use multiple devices to complete conversions, many businesses fail to understand the role mobile is playing in the overall purchase funnel. In other words, the credit is often only given to the last channel in the funnel (last click attribution). This model doesn’t tell the whole story.
  • Not taking advantage of mobile advertising features – AdWords offers a number of fantastic features for better ad serving and data collection for mobile users. Mobile targeting needs to be understood in the larger context of the conversion funnel, but this more nuanced understanding also has to translate into an effective optimization approach for mobile ads.



Significance of Mobile for users “on the go”

While top-level mobile growth trends are more or less consistent across all industries and verticals,  the travel and hospitality industries have seen particularly high mobile engagement.

Users are becoming more comfortable completing larger purchases on their mobile devices (airplane tickets, lodging, other travel-related purchases), and looking at the level of mobile engagement with these industries in particular should be seen as further reason not to let this channel go undervalued.

Devices used to book travel


Mobile ad spend still out of proportion to usage

While mobile accounts for 20% of media consumption, it only accounts for 4% of advertising spend!

Mobile Use vs. Ad Spend


  • Mobile must be an essential component of every business’s online advertising and marketing portfolio
  • Mobile advertising provides a number of useful benefits by virtue of the context in which users engage with mobile content
  • Mobile often serves to drive conversions via other channels
  • It’s crucial to understand the role of mobile in the larger conversion funnel
  • Businesses fail with mobile by not having a mobile-optimized site and by not drawing the right conclusions from the data