Mobile device usage has exploded over the last few years, as users gained access to better, easier-to-use smartphones. In turn, digital marketing trends have been heavily influenced by the ubiquity of these devices. Andy Taylor, Associate Director of Research at Merkle, expounding on Merkle’s ‘Q1 Digital Marketing Report’, writing in Mobile Marketing (0714), pointed out the impact of mobile on Google’s paid search and Facebook’s ad spend, as well as the rising importance of local search.

The importance of local search was addressed at the 2016 Performance Summit, where Google announced that local searches were growing 50% faster than mobile searches overall, as users increasingly turn to mobile search to locate local businesses and use navigation apps. As such, Google is making local searches a greater priority in expanding the tops of ads it shows.

In Q1 2017, the share of phone traffic for brand text ads coming from the ‘Get location details’ click type rose 5% with the vast majority of these clicks coming from ads in the Google Maps search results. While Google has long tested Google Maps ads, it began steadily expanding that traffic in mid-2016.

To ensure visibility with these ad units, marketers with brick-and-mortar locations must verify local business listings in Google My Business as well launch location extensions for all paid search campaigns.

Google is also enhancing the presence of ads for local businesses on its primary search results with Local Inventory Ads, a variation of Google Shopping ads which includes information on when a product can be picked up in store. Launched in 2013, these ads have steadily grown in importance as phone usage increased, and in Q1 2017, accounted for 19% of all Google Shopping phone traffic for the median retailer taking advantage of the format.

This format requires more work to set up than traditional Google Shopping ads, as retailers must submit local product feeds for every store included and update information to reflect current product availability and pricing at each store. Google ensures that this information is accurate with in-store quality checks.

However, Google is increasingly showing only Local Inventory ads in its Google Shopping ad displays for product specific queries with local intent. Thus, despite the ore tedious setup. LIAs are becoming important for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Facebook advertising growth soars with strong mobile traffic share. While phones and tablets combined to account for 41% of all paid search spend in Q1, that figure was 76% for Facebook ad spend. With a widely popular mobile app capable of showing both traditional display and video ads, Facebook ad spend is significantly outpacing that of most other digital marketing platforms, and increased 71% Y/Y in Q1 2017. With this success, retailers should expect to increase investment in Facebook by taking advantage of existing targeting options, as well as new feature such as the recent expansion of Dynamic Product Ads, to target prospects and the recently released collection ad format.

Mobile is driving the rise of local searches on both search engines and navigation apps to the increasing dominance of Google and Facebook in the search and social spaces. Retailers can take advantage with quick adoption of new local ad formats and increased focus on Google mobile and Facebook campaigns.