The Mobile Search Conference 2007 was held in London last week and featured two days of informative seminar sessions and a mobile search engine marketing workshop. Speakers at the conference included executives from Nokia, Telecom Italia, Orange, InfoSpace, AccuraCast, dotMobi and AtlasCT.
The highlights from the second day included the following sessions:
Personalising portals to improve speed and ease of content discovery
Dr Valentina Rivoira, Project Manager at Telecom Italia delivered one of the most frank and honest seminars in the conference. The speech put into words the sentiments that all mobile service providers harbour but don’t always speak about candidly:
- They want a big share of the search ad revenue stream
- They don’t mind partnering with Google or Yahoo! so long as they are the ones who receive the lion’s share of ad revenues
- Operators have limited bandwidth and don’t necessarily want users to download large files and use the mobile Internet like they do the desktop. This means that tariffs will remain high till providers can improve their own bandwidth.
Other points made during her talk were:
- Mobile search and on-phone search are likely to merge, just like they have on the desktop space, as more and more files can be stored on mobile devices
- Ad models alone might not be enough to sustain operator costs, just like free calling on Skype isn’t turning into as profitable a venture as they had hoped.
Exploiting local search for the mobile environment
Andy Walker, CEO of m-spatial, a white label mobile local search provider, talked about their services and mentioned some interesting data they found on their user base – 25-40% of searches performed on mobile devices are localised.
M-spatial predict the local search market will grow into a $5.1 Billion online market in the U.S. by 2009.
Location aware search
Magnus Nilsson, CEO of Wayfinder Systems spoke about their local search application and provided some interesting statistics.
Speaking about the future of mobile search Magnus mentioned that they foresee a need for more access to event information, especially dynamic information with updates about latest events at a venue rather than just static information about the venue location, directions and facilities.
Solutions to improve the mobile search experience
Ramesh Kumar, the UK Deputy Chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association joined Valentina Rivoira from Telecom Italia and Farhad Divecha Managing Director of AccuraCast in a lively panel discussion on ways to improve the user experience with mobile search.
The participants interacted with the audience and kicked off a lively debate about whether mobile local search was delivering as much as the prior speakers had implied it did. Audience members seemed to be split in their opinions, but a consensus was soon reached that a lot needs to be done to improve usability and lower price, at which point adoption will increase.
Another interesting discussion during the session was about advertiser’s perceptions and whether they had a preference about going with the search engines or with the mobile operators.