Google on social, new travel business models and mobile

We managed to grab some time recently with Ali Yilmaz, travel head for South East Asia at Google.
Here follows a Q&A with Yilmaz about various issues including consumer buying patterns and changes, social media and innovation around the travel industry.


What are the most significant shift in travel consumers’ demands and online behaviour? How should travel companies react?

Travel consumers’ demands and online behaviours started to change long before the downturn. The internet was itself a very significant turning point in the travel industry; it was a traveller’s ‘dream’ come true on the computer screen. What we have seen in the recent years is a faster shift towards online and a variety of technologies emerging within.

Travellers’s online behaviours are changing every other day; 20% of all searches in the first 90 days of 2010 were never seen on Google before. Billions of searches were done and still, people find new ways of searching. On the other hand, consumers are adapting mobile technologies rapidly. In 2010, one in four internet minutes were on mobile. In two years, mobile internet users are expected to surpass desktop internet users and in four years time mobile searches are expected to surpass desktop searches.

Travel companies should closely monitor these changes in technology and consumer behaviour, and act quickly. There used to be a time when we were reluctant with new technology and therefore some preferred the “lets wait and see” strategy. Unfortunately we don’t have the time to “wait and see” anymore, it is time to adapt “as quick as possible”.

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Using mobile phone only as text machines: Mobile Marketers Must Respond to Cultural Differences

As mobile penetration and usage increase across the board, marketers must craft campaigns that appeal to local communities and cultural differences. Ads developed for the US or other Western markets may not have the same impact throughout the world.

Latin America, as a region, has some of the highest adoption rates of mobile devices in the world and overall mobile phone user penetration of 55.4%. eMarketer estimates that penetration in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico will be 77%, 54% and 52% in 2011, respectively. Due to multiple SIM cards per person, subscription penetration in the countries is estimated much higher.


Mobile Phone Users in Latin America, 2009-2015 (millions and % of population)

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How to reach your customers with advertising when they are going mobile

mobile advertising opportunitiesRecently, Forrester predicted that in 2011 marketers will take the training wheels off mobile programs and start investing in cohesive mobile marketing strategies. Without question, one of these cohesive strategies includes the integration of place-based media — traditional out-of-home (OOH) or digital-out-of-home (DOOH) — with the mobile phone. Marketers have come to understand that they can now reach their target demographic at moments of maximum influence (i.e., the point of purchase) using a powerful combination of place-based media and mobile technology that yields greater accountability than ever before. Currently, there are seven critical forms of mobile convergence with place-based media that need to be understood:

Short message service
Short message service (SMS) is the most ubiquitous form of mobile communication today, making it a great tool for place-based media. SMS can easily be implemented across a large scale DOOH and/or traditional OOH network looking to reach a diverse demographic; retailers have been quick to realize this.

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E-mail use remains high trough mobile and social media (say the e-mail agencies)

Remember the old Timex advertising tagline “Timex takes a licking but keeps on ticking!”? It’s one of the iconic advertising slogans that will probably be a part of the American pop culture lexicon for a long time to come.

Well, that same implied toughness about a Timex watch can now be applied to e-mail as a communications device. There are many people who think that it’s time to drive the final nail in this communication tool’s coffin. That nail is supposedly being driven by social media in general.

eMarketer reports that quite the opposite is occurring according to a survey by Merkle. Of course, Merkle provides e-mail marketing management services so you have been warned.

Email and Social Media Usage marketingfood

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Mobile Web Traffic to E-commerce Sites Surges 300%

Mobile Web traffic to high-traffic e-commerce sites grew more than 300% during the 2010 online holiday shopping season over levels registered during the same period a year earlier, according to a report by Conductor.

Among some 18 million visits to those five sites from November 1, 2010 to January 1, 2011, visits via mobile devices grew more than 300% over the same period one year earlier.

mobile visits to ecommerce sites

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Mobile marketing 2011: evolution not revolution

Everybody, especially commentators and journalists, loves to talk about defining moments. That is the reason there has been so many column inches dedicated to predicting, or dismissing “the year of the mobile”.

Everyone can see the potential for mobile devices to change the way we consume and engage digitally and they are all hoping for, and expecting, a single event that marks the beginning of mass mobile adoption from a marketing stand point.

The reality however, is this event is never going to occur. The year of the mobile will probably never happen as there is no single event which is going to change the way we use and consume information and advertising on mobile devices.

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Why brands ignore mobile social media at their peril


The first day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has passed. With hundreds of new devices launching, operating systems getting face lifts and apps everywhere – it’s hard to break through the noise and dig deep to what any of these announcements actually mean for businesses and marketers. 

That said, it’s time to break down that barrier and focus in on what some of this week’s top trends mean for brands and their marketing strategy, starting with social mobile integration.

Yesterday revealed that a very common trend among all operators and device manufacturers is deep social media and mobile integration. At the Samsung stand, it’s all about the Galaxy SII (2) and its ‘social hub’ feature; where Facebook, Twitter, email and messenger services are aggregated into one single feed and can be found by individual contacts in the address book.

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