An IBM report reveals that mobile search opportunities are growing, and some businesses are already reaping the benefits.

Global shipments of smartphones and tablets are poised to overtake shipments of PCs and notebooks this year, which may mean internet marketers will see on-the-go audiences drive traffic growth. IBM’s report, The Mobile Sweep: Will Mobile Supersede the Web, reveals that mobile search opportunities are growing, and some businesses are already reaping results from mobile search marketing.

Priceline.com is benefiting from the fact that consumers are comfortable spending money while on the go via their mobile devices. IBM reports that 82 percent of Priceline.com mobile visitors booked their hotel rooms within one day of arriving at the site, as opposed to 45 percent of non-mobile customers. More than half were within 20 miles of their hotels when they booked, suggesting proximity was key to their purchase decision.

The number of consumers who will search (and buy!) on the mobile web stands to grow this year. The report references data from Morgan Stanley suggesting that smartphone shipments will surpass PC and desktop shipments in 2011, and smartphone and tablet shipments combined make mobile internet devices the clear leader in terms of estimated annual sales. (Plus, Brafton has reported that smartphone owners prefer to search the mobile web.)

IBM cites the internet as one of the top six trends driving mobile adoption. Enhanced context awareness is another major trend, referring to consumers’ ability to find information that meets their needs with respect to their location, social context, time, etc. This should indicate that marketers need to deliver fresh, locally optimized content to reach mobile searchers.

Moreover, IBM says the mobilization of money is driving smartphone and tablet adoption. One of the implications of this trend is that consumers are getting more comfortable spending money via mobile devices – and Priceline.com’s sales data proves this.

These figures might encourage marketers to adopt mobile SEO and content campaigns in an effort to reach on-the-go audiences, and it seems many brands already recognize the need for mobile search efforts. As Brafton has reported, the 2011 Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization’s State of Search Marketing Report finds that mobile has had the biggest impact on marketers’ search efforts this year, with 40 percent of respondents citing mobile channels as top search influencers.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.