One of the biggest and best-known companies to weather the Great Recession of the past several years is Google Inc., the online advertising and search giant. So it stands to reason that when the company dispenses business advice, it might not be a bad idea for the rest of us to pay attention (and just forget about that little thing called Google Wave).
Recently, a set of commandments came down from the Mountain View, California company, etched not on stone tablets, but rather, developed to be viewed on mobile tablets. To call The Mobile Playbook a mere “eBook” would be inaccurate and perhaps even dangerously myopic. While you can download a static PDF, you’d be doing yourself and your organization a favor by viewing this treatise via its mobile-optimized Web version.
What is The Mobile Playbook? Basically, it’s Google’s interpretation of the business world’s increasingly mobile present and future. Thesis statement: if you don’t develop ways to engage consumers on mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablet PCs, you’re going to get left in the dust. My spin on Google’s spin: the mobile Web is at about the same stage as the regular Web circa 1999 or maybe 2000. In other words, early-ish adopters are all over it and seeing some success already. Laggards or anyone foolish enough to still think it’s a fad or that it doesn’t affect them will be sorry, later.
Quote, from the Googlers themselves:
“At Google, we believe that mobile represents a sociological shift with how users relate with both the digital and physical world. Businesses that understand this will win.”
The Mobile Playbook offers a few key things for people to consider before rushing headlong into building a mobile site and bunches of apps. Two of the biggies:
1) Determine the value proposition you can offer your mobile consumer
2) Build a mobile-optimized Web site (or risk having mobile customers abandon yours); if you don’t have the talent in-house, you can find someone out there to help you – though, don’t expect it to be as simple or cheap as building a regular, desktop website.
From my perspective, there was one pretty big oversight in the report, or perhaps it was merely a room-occupying elephant the authors chose to ignore. Most or all of the examples cited were large companies and organizations with undoubtedly large marketing budgets. The report recommended “talking with your agency” about developing marketing strategies, on the apparent assumption that readers could afford outsourcing their mobile marketing. Unlike building a desktop Web presence, developing sites for mobile remains notoriously expensive. Creating mobile “apps” such as games or electronic tools also costs lots of money.
Flash, the formerly-undisputed multimedia format champion for the Web, famously doesn’t get along with some mobile devices. That and other competing mobile standards mean a compatibility headache for developers. Android? iOS? Windows for Mobile? Without singling out any particular handset or tablet, Google’s guide slyly suggests building first for whatever platform is most popular with your particular audience. For a consumer packaged goods company it might be a no-brainer to build for the wildly popular iPhone first. If, however, you’re a technology company that caters to geekazoids, the best ROI might come from releasing an Android-compatible version initially.
The Mobile Playbook should give anyone with a business or in charge of marketing for a business plenty of food for thought. Whatever you do, don’t wait too long to get started with mobile – you could be losing tons of prospects who abandon your site because surfing it via mobile is too painful for them.
To view online or download Google’s The Mobile Playbook, go here.
To see how your site looks when viewed on a mobile device, plus tips to improve it, click here.
Akweli Parker is founder of Digital Delta Media LLC, a content marketing consulting firm. Join him on Twitter, where he is user @aparkerddm