Despite high gas prices this Memorial Day weekend, AAA estimated that over 35M Americans traveled at least 50 miles or more during this year’s unofficial start of summer - approximately 100,000 more vacationers than in 2010. Of those 35M, almost 90% drove to their destinations. This is great news for travel and hospitality businesses. However, advertisers within all retail industries should be celebrating and taking advantage of the influx of family caravans this Memorial Day as well. “Why?,” you ask?

Just think about how the dynamics of your own family road trips and how they have changed....

Rare now are the days of car sing-a-longs, the license plate game, or “slug-bugging” each other. Now little Johnny’s in the back with his iPod cranked up, Cindy’s texting her friends back home, Mike is searching for the nearest fast food chain, and Mom is trying to use her mobile GPS to tell Dad that he made a wrong turn 5 miles back.

Technology has changed the way we travel, the way we vacation - the way we live. We are no longer disconnected from world after we leave our computer screens. Our mobile devices have capabilities far beyond the simple phone call. The time spent on mobile phones has increased 90% from March 2010 to March 2011 (Internet Retailer May 2011). With people spending more time on their hand-held devices, advertisers must understand the importance and value of having a presence in the new mobile frontier. However, many are missing out on the opportunity and will be late to the game.

Without a defined mobile strategy, advertisers are losing incremental market share and leaving dollars on the table for competition. According to a 2011 ForeSee Report on Mobile Retail, shoppers are using their phones for a variety of reasons and are becoming even more savvy:
  • 56% are comparing price information
  • 46% are comparing different products
  • 35% are looking up product specifications
  • 27% are viewing product reviews
However, the most telling statistic speaks to the importance of defending & defining one’s personal brand. While in physical stores, almost 70% of mobile shoppers use their phones to visit the store’s own website, but nearly half also used their phones to access a competitor’s website. Years ago, business owners were only responsible for the image and branding of their brick and mortar store fronts. However, today that company is responsible for two additional equally important store fronts - the Desktop Website Homepage & Mobile Website Homepage/App.

One of the top priorities for 2011 should be focused on developing an expansive mobile strategy. Google has a variety of targeting capabilities to allow for optimal control and real-time alterations, as well as an ever-expanding inventory for search and display advertising. As more people take the roads this summer for vacations, weekend get-aways, and holiday celebrations - be certain that you’re along for the ride too!

Posted by Terra Teague, The Google Retail Team