Google: 50 Percent Of Those Exposed To Mobile Ads Took Action

Google today released findings of a smartphone-user study that the company did with Ipsos OTX at the end of 2010. The sample consisted of 5,000 US adults who owned a smartphone and accessed the mobile internet. Most of the findings reinforce other studies that show how widely people now rely on smartphones across a spectrum of interests and needs.

Coming out of the research Google identified three major consumer usage patterns in the data. It described those the following way:

  • Action-oriented Searchers
  • Local Information Seekers
  • Purchase-driven Shoppers

Heavy Usage at Home, with Other Media

Like Yahoo, Performics, InsightExpress and others, Google found that there’s heavy smartphone usage at home. The survey found that 93 percent of smartphone owners use their phones within the home. Thirty nine percent said they used their smartphones “while going to the bathroom” and approximately 20 percent would give up cable TV before their smartphones.

The survey also found that 81 percent of users “browse the internet” and 77 percent of smartphone owners use mobile search. However it’s not clear what “browse the internet” means here; browser vs. app usage generally wasn’t explored in the survey.

Google said that 72 percent of smartphone owners use their devices “while consuming other media,” a one-third while they’re watching TV.

Mobile Searchers Take Action

As mentioned, the findings are grouped by usage pattern. The first of the three user-types identified above is “action-oriented searchers.” Google says that 9 out of 10 mobile search users have “taken action as a result of a mobile search, with over half leading to a purchase.”

Mobile searchers are looking for a range of information types (below). As an aside the survey confirms how critical mobile is as a news delivery platform.

  • News (57 percent)
  • Dining (51 percent)
  • Entertainment (49 percent)
  • Shopping (47 percent)
  • Technology (32 percent)
  • Travel (31 percent)
  • Finance (26 percent)
  • Automotive (17 percent)

Looking for Local

Although there’s plenty of local information in the list above, Google found a distinct group of local information seekers among survey respondents. It said that most of these people “take action within a day.” (Microsoft has said it’s within an hour.)

The local information seekers are characterized by the following behaviors:

  • 95 percent of smartphone users have looked for local information
  • 61 percent call a business, 59 percent visit a business and 44 percent purchase
  • 88 percentof local information seekers take action within a day

Smartphone Shoppers

Like others before, Google found that there’s heavy smartphone use during the shopping process:

  • 79 percent use their smartphones to help with shopping
  • 70 percent use their smartphones while in a store
  • 74 percent of smartphone shoppers wind up making a purchase

Google found that smartphones impact purchases made through other channels (e.g., online). Among smartphone shoppers, Google said that 76 percent have bought in-store, 59 percent online and 35 on their phones.

Of the last group (mobile purchasers) 27 percent of purchases were through mobile websites and 22 percent through apps. Google also found that smartphone shoppers “spent a median of $300 on purchases made on their smartphones.” That’s median (midpoint), not an average.

Smartphone Owners Are Ad Responders

Finally Google found that smartphone owners were aware of, engaged with and were responsive to advertising. Just over 70 percent conducted searches on their smartphones after exposure to an ad (traditional, online, mobile). This is directionally similar to a statistic from Microsoft about how users respond to traditional media ads with smartphone searches.

The Google survey also found that 82 percent of users noticed mobile ads. Most impressively Google found that half of the those seeing mobile ads took some form of action:

  • 42 percent clicked on the ad
  • 27 percent contacted the business
  • 35 percent went to a related website
  • 49 percent made a purchase

Here’s a more lively and visual presentation of much of this data:

YouTube Preview Image

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Mobile


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • danatodd

    Hey Greg, that statistic about 50% of those exposed to ads took an action seems a little weird/high for belief – essentially saying a 50% blended conversion?…can you drill into it a bit more as a data point? Is it because there isn’t much clutter right now, or that the ads are so tightly targeted to audience/location and with creative message? I recall back in the early days of web advertising, a banner could achieve a 40% CTR on Yahoo just because there was no other advertising on the page and it was perfectly targeted by keyword.

    Would like to hear your opinion on what you think is driving the effectiveness – or is it simply because they’re attributing *any* kind of post-impression action as an action related to the exposure?

  • Greg Sterling

    Hi Dana:

    First off, it’s 50% of 82% who noticed ads. So it’s not an absolute 50%.

    In addition some mobile clicks are “inadvertent” But DynamicLogic and InsightExpress both have data that show mobile outperforms PC display across all brand metrics.

    Lack of ad clutter, more immediate need/greater relevance/better targeting and novelty may also be contributing factors to user behavior.

    Google didn’t let me under the hood. Will see if I can find out more.

  • Cleofe Betancourt

    Hi Greg,

    “50% of users respond to mobile ads!” is a great selling point for the guys at AdMob, but the information they gave doesn’t support this claim. Every point in the article addresses how and why Smartphone users utilize their phones, but not necessarily the effectiveness of the ads in question. As you mention in your comment above, there is also the issue of “inadvertent” clicks (my 3 year old playing angry birds is a notorious clicker), novelty, random actions required to close the ads, captive audience, etc., which can also skew this data.

    Oh, to be part of the 18% who don’t notice these ads :)

  • Michael Martin


    I like the little sound-bite that almost half would give up beer for Internet use on their smartphones :)

    Also I asked what the smartphone OS breakout was as it wasn’t in the webinar or the followup doc & was told it was 30% BlackBerry, 26% Android & 21% iPhone.

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