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Google's product management director laid out plans yesterday for powerful tools to blend information about its users with the goals of marketers as customers move between fixed and mobile devices.

Speaking at the Mobile Marketing Strategies Summit in San Francisco, Seth Sternberg laid out the two key challenges facing mobile marketers and some of the ways Google is addressing them through projects still in development. In some cases, the 100 marketing pros present were invited to sign up for the trials.

Google, of course, is competing with Microsoft and many others to find new ways to engage mobile users. Officials of LinkedIn,  Facebook and other networks also spoke at the conference to outline their strategies for building engagement. As more social media users move to mobile, apps are becoming increasingly important.

Super Users

The first challenge he outlined was the need to engage with customer through ongoing interactions. Many marketers buy followers through social media, but that traffic tends to be transient,  he said. "Super-engaged users use mobile apps," Sternberg said, so the goal should be to convince users to install mobile apps.

The second challenge is tracking users as they move across media and platforms. It was easy to use cookies to watch user behavior on PCs, but now that they move from a phone,  to laptop, to TVs or other devices, there's a need for a "trusted cross-device ID" tool.

Google is addressing both through a variety of experiments that can help to promote relevant apps in search, email, Google Plus and other levels.  If a company has an active page on Google Plus, for example, its latest content will show up in the right column where you would normally expect to see ads. Sternberg stressed Google is looking for fresh, relevant content.

"We're working on a lot of stuff to increase engagement through mobile apps," he said. Those include an experimental approach to add "deep links" into a mobile app into a list of search results for mobile users. For example, if a consumer is shopping for a "red wool shirt," the search results could include a link into the page of a mobile app that shows the red wool shirts offered by a particular retailer. Marketers who want to participate in that can sign up on Google. Apps can also show up in search for companies with a complete profile on Google Plus.

Mail Search

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In Gmail, Google has an opt-in tool that allows the content of emails to play a role in search results.  For example, someone who gets a travel itinerary via Gmail one week, and goes to search for a map of the  destination city the next, could find the hotel highlighted on the map. Several airlines have signed up for that service, he said.

When users log into a new website and are offered an app, they usually have to go through the familiar process of signing up and then downloading the app from the store. Google has eliminated the download step by tracking the user. Instead, if they say they'd like to have the Android app, it will simply appear on their home screen the next time they use their device.

"This is incredibly powerful," he said. "It's getting about a 40 percent acceptance rate. This is an extremely powerful way to drive app installs."

Customers moving across channels can be tracked through Google, so that the shopping cart they begin to fill on a laptop is updated when they go to mall with their mobile phone. The online store Fancy, reported a 20 percent increase in conversions and a 14 percent increase in spending as a result, said Sternberg.