Mobile Search Use Stats: Big At Home, When Watching TV, While Running Errands

For those who believe that mobile search is just done by users “on the go,” guess again. A series of research reports and findings have come out over the past couple of weeks that show heavy smartphone and mobile search use also happens at home and even while other devices are being used, such as watching TV or suprisingly, even when using a computer.

Performics Does Mobile Search Study

Previous reports from Yahoo and InsightExpress have already shown some of this surprising behavior. This week Performics released its own mobile search report, which was commissioned to better understand how mobile internet users are interacting with search on smartphones and what they’re doing precisely.

The survey was conducted in February and had 502 respondents, selected from a much larger pool. They were required to “access the mobile web at least once a week and have used mobile search one or more times in the past month.”

Phone Searches Happen At Home, On Evenings & Weekends

Here’s the chart referenced in the headline above, showing that the greatest use of mobile search is actually happening at home “in the evening” and “on the weekends.” Use while running errands was also high:

Phone Searches Happen While Watching TV & Even When Using Computers

Like others, Performics also found that people are using mobile devices (and search) while watching TV (also referenced above) and at their computers.

This means that people can immediately respond to prompts and calls to action with their smartphones. Accordingly marketers need to consider that a growing audience has got a smartphone at its side while online and in front of the TV.

32% Search More By Phone Than On Computer

Recall that in an earlier post I referenced Microsoft’s statistic that large numbers of people (37 percent to 40 percent) respond to traditional media ads (outdoor, radio, TV) with mobile lookups or search.

Another thought-provoking finding from the survey is that 32 percent of respondents said that they use mobile search “more than I use search engines on my computer.”

Nearly Half Do Mobile Search 20 Times Or More Per Month

Another striking finding is that almost 40 percent of these respondents said they searched more than 20 times monthly on their mobile phones. There’s still a way to go to beat the US PC search query user average, which comScore says is 107 queries per month.

Yet to meet or exceed that PC number mobile searchers would only need to do a little more than 3.5 search queries per day on their handsets. Put that way it’s not such leap to think that mobile query volumes will exceed the PC within a few years — especially if we count app lookups as part of overall search volumes.

Most Satisfied By Mobile Search Experience

These survey respondents also expressed high levels of satisfaction with the mobile search experience. That’s impressive considering that mobile search usability, notwithstanding voice search, is generally regarded as lower than PC usability.

Data Based On Smartphone Super Adopters

Remember that this is not all mobile users but those who access the mobile web at least once a week. But it’s a leading indicator for the entire mobile population as smartphone penetration grows.

For this population of respondents smartphone penetration was 86 percent; about a quarter had iPhones and (by my tally) more than 30 percent had Android devices, although it isn’t entirely clear from the chart below.

In the overall US market smartphone penetration is just over 30 percent according to Nielsen. This gives you a sense that there’s something of a chasm between Performics’ mobile search users and the larger market. Once again, however, these data should be seen as a leading indicator of broader behavior tied to smartphone adoption.

Unusual Uses = Opportunities

While some of the findings seem counter-intuitive, and may complicate life somewhat for search marketer, they may also be an opportunity to generate more immediate response to ads and conversions, especially if calls are involved.

The report had many additional findings about mobile search motives and use cases, especially around retail shopping and in-store behavior. But this is yet another report that shows the mobile search market is real and growing rapidly. Furthermore, for a small but increasing number of people, mobile is becoming the preferred search platform.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Features: Analysis | Google: Mobile | Magazine | Search Engines: Maps & Local Search Engines | Search Engines: Mobile Search Engines | Stats: comScore | Stats: General | Stats: Search Behavior | Top News | Weekender


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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  • rakeshlobster

    Advertisers and TV networks can facilitate increased adoption. CNN recently started using QR codes. (Currently to solicit contributions for Japan.)

  • Michael Dorausch

    Not surprised by these findings at all. I’ve found my mobile doubles as a ‘computer’ when working with my laptop on the road, it’s become like a 2nd monitor. Mobile use while on TV is fascinating, and has me wondering how long until our remotes can be replaced by our phones. Is that out there yet?

  • Samantha Goldberg

    This is really interesting. The point about mobile searchers only needing to do a little more than 3.5 search queries per day on their handsets to exceed PC users – is what I have found mind boggling. By 2015, the mobile internet users should be more prevalent than desktop internet users, only 4 years away.

  • Henry Goldwire

    Wait, people search on their phone while sitting in front of their computer? Why? Because it’s harder to type? Because the connection is slower? Because the results show up on a worse screen? I don’t get it.

    The only reason I could think of to use your phone while you’re sitting at your PC is because it’s your work PC and you don’t want your search showing up in some log. Is that what’s driving this?

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