In Mobile: More Menus Less Search

Mobile Applications on the iPhone are increasingly emphasizing the use of menus over (or in addition to) search boxes providing quick access to frequently needed items.  This has implications for how we need to think about advertising in the mobile, local environment.  I’ll present a few examples of the ‘menu trend’ and then discuss the advertising implications.

Exhibit Number One: Mapquest 4 Mobile

The new Mapquest application for the iPhone features a menu of items you are likely to need while out and about.  You can turn them on or off.  This is a simple, slick and effective approach — the best one I’ve seen so far.

The Mapquest 4 Mobile menu bar

The Mapquest 4 Mobile menu bar

Exhibit Number Two: Where

Where was one of the first local search applications on the iPhone and has always emphasized a menu based approach with an eclectic collection of applications — though one of the options is search.

Where iPhone App Showing Service Stations

Where iPhone App Showing Service Stations

The thing I like better about the MapQuest approach is that I can turn multiple layers on or off — though it’s easy enough to change selections within Where.

Aside: I selected the Bing ad and it took me to a screen showing the weather for Toronto.  I’m in Edmonton.  And every Canadian already resents Toronto centric things.  Fail.

Yelp: A Bit More Old School

The Yelp home screen also utilize a menu based approach.  It’s a bit boring and feels like a return to some of those awful early generation mobile apps.  It’s effective, but something like the MapQuest approach where I could actually see what nearby means would probably be better.  In fairness, Yelp’s emphasis is on presenting you with the review content.

Yelp Home Screen

Yelp Home Screen

An Advertising Perspective

This menu based emphasis presents new advertising opportunities.   One potential approach, is to ‘sell’ featured or sponsored locations.  Looking at the configuration screen of Mapquest’s app, I’d say they are already well down the path on this — notice the branded entities — and lots of space for more of them!

Brand advertising in MapQuest 4 Mobile?

Brand advertising in MapQuest 4 Mobile?

Epicurious: Another Menu Based Approach to Advertising

Epicurious recently launched a very interesting application for the iPhone.  It let’s you browse recipes and then create shopping lists for your trip to the grocery store.  Nice!

They’ve integrated brand advertising in a very nice way:

Brand advertising in the Epicurious iPhone app

Brand advertising in the Epicurious iPhone app

The bottom item in the menu has branded recipes from Stella Artois.  Local advertising – in the form of places where you can actually pick up those ingredients or perhaps coupons seems like a logical extension.

Augmented Reality as a Form of Menu

The evolution of Augmented Reality that I wrote about in my previous post can also be seen as a very clever way of overlaying menus.


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