Today, we're catching up on recent reports, studies and white papers that seek to enlighten us about searching the mobile web, web advertising via YouTube and other online portals, as well as the hashtag rivers that connect people with the news.

The Mobile Web

What and How are Mobile Users Searching?

With the growing number of websites, apps and downloads developed specifically for mobile platforms, users have few options for finding them. From a user experience perspective, an effective search tool can improve the utility of the mobile web, while from a business stand point, it can help websites maximize revenue opportunities.

A recent white paper published by Mobile Commerce, a UK-based mobile content publisher, aggregator and distributor, addressed this very concept. The study -- Mobile Search: What are people searching for and how do they search for it -- highlighted the elements that separate mobile searches from PC-based searches and the needs associated with them.

  • Growth: The volume of searches we are seeing on mobile devices has more than doubled in the last 12 months. Mobile Commerce attributes this increase to changes in the behavior and more user reliance on the mobile internet.
  • Navigation: Unlike PC-based branded search platforms, a mobile phone has a much smaller text input device than the keyboard of a PC, making input errors much more likely. Consider ‘touchable’ tag clouds.
  • Search Categories: Users on mobile don’t show the same propensity to search for trending topics as they do on PC. Date and time are also strong drivers of search terms, as well as TV and events.

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Ultimately the white paper aims to show that understanding how users are searching is critical for any company wanting to bid on as many appropriate search terms as possible and also get discovered through natural search.

Social Networking and the Mobile Web

Speaking of the mobile web, a recent study by Ground Truth, a mobile measurement firm, revealed that approximately 60% of the time spent on the mobile internet is spent on social networking sites and apps. Users spent only about 14% of mobile Internet time on portals, the second most popular category.

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Using data gathered over a one-week period, March 28 to April 4, from 3.05 million mobile phone users in the U.S., the study also revealed that social networking platforms designed for mobile, like MocoSpace and AirG, have higher engagement levels than platforms geared primarily for PC access, like Facebook and MySpace.

Web Portal Advertising

Though online portals like YouTube and Yahoo are not as popular as the social media sites like Facebook, their popularity has increased and are still highly valuable to online advertisers.

Giving marketers a chance to reach a large audience more simply and easier than ad networks do, the top portals accounted for more than US$ 13 billion in ad dollars last year -- more than half the total of US$ 23.5 billion for the entire Internet.

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A report from investment firm Broadpoint Amtech shows that movie and TV studios are still flocking to portals, taking up about 27 percent of homepage buys, while financial services come in second with 14 percent.

Tweeting the News

From the minds at SmallRivers, a Swiss startup that works to connect distant communities of shared interest to leverage their respective know-hows and enable collective action.

They have developed a portable networking element that attaches to content and “travels” with it as it is being copied. Content that stays connected, while connecting people is deemed a river. At present, SmallRivers offers three solutions aimed at connecting people with content, River.li and Paper.li, which are its free services, and SmallRivers PRO service, a fee-based platform for professional content producers, large websites and editors.

Recently, Paper.li caught our attention. Paper.li, is an app that allows you to transform your Twitter stream into a daily virtual newspaper. Complete with front page headlines, usually the most engaging articles and a button to view the rest of the stories, Paper.li allows users to create their own Twitter paper or subscribe to, share or search others’.

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An example of a Twitter newspaper: Jeff Jarvis

Will this revolutionize the news industry? Maybe not, but it could just reinvigorate the way users interact with Twitter.