Yahoo: Travel playing ‘catch up’ on mobile media

Travel is seen as one of the sectors playing catch-up when it comes to mobile media, according to a senior figure from Yahoo.

John Tigg, head of mobile for the search giant, said in many cases travel companies had not optimised their websites for mobile and the content was not there yet.

Tigg was speaking as Yahoo unveiled its ‘Appetite’ consumer research on mobile media usage showing that one in 10 consumers have made a purchase on mobile rising to 4 in 10 for iPhone users.

“The research has told us that people are willing to carry out transactions but the sites are not there and that is a frustration. There are a lot of ways travel stands to benefit from this medium so right now they need to be asking what functionality is going to work and how simple they need to keep it for people to engage,” said Tigg.

The research also revealed that ‘real web’ would be the driver for mobile media usage as opposed to mobile applications and consumers would increasingly expect optimised websites.

Head of UK trade research Patrick Hourihan said ‘snacking’ was decreasing with consumers now spending much longer browsing the internet via their mobile devices.

“We’re starting to see high levels of engagement and 77% of mobile media users are spending more than five minutes at a time.”

Hourihan also warned that in the next two years brands which are not present on mobile would be handing potential business over to competitors.

The study also found consumers blame brands for a poor mobile web experience above their network provider or their handset and that in many cases a bad experience drove users to seek an alternative.

“In many cases they are gone for good. There is an expectation that brands are going to be in this space and that it is going to be an optimised experience. There are not enough examples of strong retail mobile offerings and there is a clear commercial opportunity not currently being met,” said Hourihan.

IAB UK head of mobile Jon Mew said companies needed to get their mobile site right and make it easy for consumers to use with the same URL if possible.

“Do apps if they are relevant but you are only going to reach a small percentage of your customers,” he added.

Mew also said auction site eBay had generated more than $500 million in sales through its mobile site and iPhone application in 2009

The research also looked at the development of mobile applications versus mobile web and found that although apps are perceived to make brands standout, the majority of consumers, 55%, don’t care how they access the information and 33% prefer a mobile site.

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