Factoids of Fear: Mobile Devices and Usage

December 12, 2016

If you depend on old fashioned desktop computers, life is going to difficult. The lackluster Apple desktops are one example. The miserable margins for Hewlett Packard’s desktop and laptop spin out are another. But if you are [a] Google or [b] a Web site designed for traditional Web users sitting in an office at a desk, bad news. “Mobile Is Eating the World” contains what I enjoy calling “factoids of fear.” Why fear? Revenues, gentle reader. The good old days of stuffing ads into generous screen real estate and sitting on the sidelines as the AdSense system puts money spinning ads are gone. Farewell, Oingo or Applied Semantics which contributed to the magic of the good old days of search and ad matching. It’s been swell.


Isn’t that HAL? Does my mobile phone sing “Mary had a little lamb?” Of course it does, silly goose. But doesn’t that mean HAL did not work as Dave expected? Hey, don’t fret over details like “working,” “accurate,”  or “reliable”, please.

You will want to read the original post, of course. However, I noted several points which help support my notion of “factoids of fear”; that is, objective information which undermines the way life used to be.

For example: The mobile S curve is passing the PS S curve. I think this means that mobile devices are more widely used than boat anchor computers. (Let’s assume these data are spot on, okay?)

For example: GAFA (Chill. The acronym means Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon) are three times the scale of Intel and Microsoft. (No problem. Let’s believe this number.) Scale means “more investment” and “more people.”

For example, Smart software is really good. Here’s a chart which “proves” that image and speech recognition are much better than in days of yore. (An error rate means only seven out of a 100 images recognized are wrong and four words out of a 100 are wonky. Close enough for horseshoes unless a “yes” becomes a “no” or the image recognized is your brother with a top secret clearance, not a bad actor.)

For example, a Yandex executive quote becomes a Google executive’s quote. But, hey, this is not a high school term paper when I learned “We will move from mobile first to AI first.”

The net net is that a new age of computing is here. The new age is “frictionless computing.” If you think in terms of search, you no longer have to use words. How antediluvian. Computers do things for you. It’s magic. Many disruptions here with more coming. But “the biggest changes are unknowable.”

I concluded that the factoids of fear translate to fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Unless one invests with a far sighted, capable, robust, and successful outfit in Silicon Valley. I usually write “Sillycon Valley” but because stability, peace, and tranquility have been decimated, I will remain serious.

What about the Alphabet Google thing? Well, revenue is likely to become a problem going forward. That’s the boat anchor business model: Big screens, mindless surfing, etc.

What about the Web sites depending on AdWords? Yikes. Move over Mary, there’s a new deck-meister in town.

Stephen E Arnold, December 12, 2016


One Response to “Factoids of Fear: Mobile Devices and Usage”

  1. aaron wall on December 12th, 2016 1:40 pm

    Sure mobile devices may have smaller screens BUT that makes it easier for Google to cover the entire screen space with nothing but ads on mobile devices. What is not seen is not clicked. What is harder to see (the organic search results on a mobile device, hidden behind 2 or 3 screen scrolls) is clicked less frequently. What is showcased front & center is clicked often.

    Google’s ad CTR on mobile devices is much higher than their CTR on ads on desktop devices. Over the years the SEM firm RKG has highlighted stats on this front multiple times in their quarterly internet marketing reports.

    What has happened with the rise of mobile is a decline of blended cost per click. There are perhaps 4 large factors there:

    1.) mobile clicks being worth less than desktop clicks (TripAdvisor mentioned mobile clicks being worth about 1/3 of desktop or tablet clicks to their business)

    2.) shift of click mix to include more branded / navigational ad clicks (there is a limit to how much Google can force brands to pay for their own pre-existing brand equity before they consider stopping)

    3.) rise of YouTube TrueView video views (which are treated as ad clicks)

    4.) increasing internationalization of search with devices coming online in emerging markets faster than developed markets (at least when compared against the legacy desktop web)

    While CPC has been dropping, aggregate ad revenue keeps increasing. As mobile payment technology improves & friction to convert on mobile drops, the cost of mobile ad clicks will likely increase to reflect those gains.

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