Time for businesses to get smart

The latest findings from the Our Mobile Planet study by Google will not surprise many. About 57% of the Malaysian population use a smartphone on a daily basis.

One in three Malaysians own a smartphone today, compared to just one in 10 two years ago, representing an increase in smartphone penetration of nearly 300% since 2011.

While smartphones are increasingly becoming a key part of Malaysian life, the majority of advertisers have yet to create a mobile website, thereby missing out on the increasing volume of traffic coming from smartphone-savvy consumers.

"The opportunity is significant but if you can't be found on mobile, you're sending business to your competitors," said Sajith Sivanandan (pictured), country manager at Google Malaysia.

With smartphone ownership on the rise, business in Malaysia is being transformed by smartphones. Nine in 10 smartphone owners have researched a product or service from their smartphone, with three in five who start on smartphones go on to complete purchases on a desktop while one in two complete their purchase offline.

Most Malaysians (69%) search for products on smartphones. Other popular searches include travel (57%), restaurant and bars (53%) and job offers (49%).

The study shows that mobile is the ideal platform for small and medium business in Malaysia as 94% of smartphone owners have searched for local information, while nine out of 10 have taken actions such as contacting the business, visiting in person or make online purchases.

Mobile ads are noticed by 95% of smartphone owners and smartphones are also a critical component of overall traditional advertising as 84% have performed an online search after seeing an offline ad.

When A+M asked why some marketers are still reluctant to invest on mobile platforms, Sivanandan implied the market may not be sufficiently educated about the opportunities that abound for businesses.

It believes that context is important as consumers should get ads at a time relevant to them. When the ads provide relevant answers and results, that's when it becomes useful.

"We've changed the way we serve our ads to "Enhanced" that allows advertisers to reach consumers across all media at one go. We believe that increasingly the device will be less important, what is important is the context," added Sivanandan.

Google currently offers various advertising models for advertisers and only charge if customers click on it.

The study was conducted by Ipsos MediaCT to gain insights into how consumers use the Internet on their smartphones.