American Marketer


60pc of smartphone owners search after seeing an ad: Google

February 29, 2012


Advertising is changing the way that consumers interact with a brand through mobile search, according to a new report from Google.

Google’s “Our mobile planet: global smartphone users” study looked at the ways that consumers are using their smartphones. The study looked at mobile trends across six countries – the United States, France, Britain, Spain, Germany and Japan.

"The research shows that the mobile movement is a global phenomenon," said Dai Pham, marketing manager of mobile ads at Google, Mountain View, CA.

"Smartphones have become an indispensable part of our daily lives and is transforming core consumer behavior," she said.

"Mobile is in the middle of how we do things today, and is central to the way we connect with others, stay informed, keep ourselves entertained, shop and navigate the world around us."

Search on

The Google study took an in-depth look at which types of ads consumers were mostly likely to search for via mobile in four categories - business, television, magazine and posters.

Respondents from Spain were most willing to take action after seeing an ad.

Approximately 60 percent of consumers looked up information via their smartphones after seeing a business or TV ad. Fifty-five percent of consumers looked up information after seeing a magazine ad, and 51 percent looked up information after seeing a poster.

In the U.S., 58 percent of consumers looked up information after seeing a TV ad, showing the growing multiscreen viewing habits of mobile users. Forty-six percent of consumers polled said that they used their smartphones to look up additional information after seeing a magazine ad, which can be tapped into with mobile initiatives such as mobile bar codes for publishers.

The report also reflects how mobile devices are being chosen over desktops.

Ninety-three percent of U.S. and British smartphone owners said that they used their mobile device within the past seven days to go online compared to 98 percent of desktop searches.

In Japan, the study found that users were searching equally from mobile and desktop, with 94 percent of respondents saying that they had used either their computer or smartphone to access the Internet in the past week.

Although Germany claimed the smallest number of respondents – 85 percent – saying that they had used mobile Web on their device within one week, the number is high enough to show that mobile search is playing a large role globally.

Two groups of data were used in the study – one from January and February 2011 and one later in the year from September and October.

Across all the countries surveyed, smartphone ownership increased over the year, signaling a shift from feature phones to more sophisticated devices.

Japan’s smartphone ownership nearly tripled over the two sample times from six percent of the country to 17 percent. In Britain, smartphone ownership shot up from 30 percent to 45 percent.

In the U.S., smartphone ownership increased from 31 percent between the months of January and February to 38 percent in the second sampling.

Seventy-six percent of consumers in the U.S., France and Japan said that they used their smartphone while in-store, showing the opportunities that retailers can use to communicate with shoppers via handsets.

The Google study also found that smartphones were used heavily while at home. Across all the countries, 96.3 percent of consumers said they used their devices at home.

When it comes to multitasking, U.S. consumers do a lot of it while on their smartphones. Fifty-one percent of consumers watch television or listen to music while using their smartphone. Additionally, 17 percent of consumers use their smartphones while reading a magazine.

Watching TV while interacting with smartphones was a popular activity across all countries for an average of 48.3 percent of all consumers surveyed.

App nation

In addition to mobile Web, the study also looked at how consumers in the five countries use applications.

The average U.S. smartphone owner has 26 applications installed on their device, 11 of which are used within 30 days. An average of six apps are paid, showing that free content still reigns as king for consumers.

In Japan, the average smartphone owner has 42 apps downloaded. However, only an average of eight apps get interacted with within 30 days.

Using social media, watching videos and shopping are the top activities that consumers are doing via their devices, per Google.

Seventy-nine percent of consumers surveyed in the U.S. and Spain use their devices to access social media. Similarly, 69 percent of French consumers, and 70 percent of German consumers access social media. This shows that brands are increasingly using social media and marrying it with mobile.

A whopping 40 percent of Japanese consumers surveyed said that they had made a purchase via their device. This indicates how quickly mobile commerce technologies such as NFC are growing.

Additionally, 34 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed said that they had used their devices to make a purchase, and 30 percent of British respondents said that they had bought items via their handsets.

Of the mobile shoppers, more than half of them across all countries made monthly purchases using their smartphones.

Twenty-nine percent of mobile shoppers in the U.S. used their devices to buy monthly, 14 percent bought items weekly and 20 percent used their devices to buy daily transportation tickets and dining.

Thirty-six percent of German shoppers bought items monthly and 13 percent used their devices weekly to buy items.

When it comes to video, smartphone users are gobbling it up. Seventy-five percent of U.S. smartphone owners said that they watched video on their devices, and 26 percent said that they watched it on a daily basis.

In Britain, 64 percent of consumers in the study watched video via their devices, and 10 percent watched on a daily basis.

"A strong implication from the research is that marketers really need to get moving with mobile strategies this year," Ms. Pham said.

"We are in the midst of a massive shift in consumer behavior, and businesses need to go deep with mobile if they want to remain relevant and effectively reach consumers now," she said.

"It is no longer why should you be on mobile, but really thinking about how can you develop marketing that uses mobile to engage consumers in more personal ways."

Final Take

Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York