In New York, at the Mobile Marketing Association forum, Google presented sponsored research on global smartphone user and marketer behavior. The data come from two related studies. The first is an “an online survey of thousands of mobile consumers in 30 countries.” The second is based on “a telephone survey of 1,000 marketing decision makers,” with a focus on US, UK, Germany, France and Japan.
Google has done a number of mobile studies and recently presented those findings in several different contexts. It’s thus unclear whether this is completely new data. The findings, however, are striking and confirm what we already know: mobile is a vital resource for consumers and a critical medium for marketers — most of whom are late to the party already.
More than Half of Smartphone Users Online Daily
In the US smartphone penetration stands at about 36 percent according to the most recent Nielsen data. In Western Europe, on a percentage basis, the numbers are higher in several countries. The Google research showed that increasingly smartphone users go online daily and that many are on the mobile internet multiple times a day:
- US — 58 percent (online) 53 percent (multiple times)
- UK — 55 percent (online) 49 percent (multiple times)
- France — 59 percent (online) 47 percent (multiple times)
- Germany — 45 percent (online) 42 percent (multiple times)
- Japan — 78 percent (online) 68 percent (multiple times)
Almost All Local Info Seekers Take Action
Here’s what the data showed about local-mobile information seekers and then the percentage who have “taken action” after a local search/lookup:
- US — 90 percent (search/lookup) 87 percent (took action)
- UK — 81 percent (search/lookup) 80 percent (took action)
- France — 83 percent (search/lookup) 83 percent (took action)
- Germany — 85 percent (search/lookup) 79 percent (took action)
- Japan — 90 percent (search/lookup) 80 percent (took action)
What we don’t get to see from the data released is the frequency of local-mobile search activity overall. But we can safely assume that among the daily users of the mobile internet at least some of that activity involves local information lookups.
What’s especially impressive here is the direct relationship between the search/lookup and subsequent action. More than 90 percent of these local information seekers are taking action; in the case of France it’s 100 percent. These are extremely valuable consumers: they search, they buy.
Smartphone Usage at POS Very High
Speaking of buying, the Google data further reveal mobile shopping and research behavior at the point of sale. There’s already a lot of data in the market from multiple sources, showing the majority of smartphone users are doing research in stores (i.e., price, review lookups). Here’s what the Google research found about the percentages of smartphone owners doing mobile research at the point of sale:
- US — 82 percent
- UK — 68 percent
- France — 82 percent
- Germany — 65 percent
- Japan — 75 percent
Often what people are doing is seeking to confirm that the product they’re immediately considering is worthy and a reasonable price compared to other stores — nearby and online. Indeed, growing percentages of smartphone consumers are making purchases on their devices:
- US — 29 percent
- UK — 28percent
- France — 17 percent
- Germany — 28 percent
- Japan — 45 percent
Some of this buying is digital goods (e.g., apps, music). However over time more physical goods buying will shift to mobile devices and as it does trusted sources (e.g., Amazon) and brands (OEMs, retailers) are likely to win vs. no-name vendors. Here’s where it’s critical to have a mobile-optimized site and offer a great — capital “G” — user experience.
Third of Marketers Say They Have Mobile Websites
On to the marketer data. The Google study found that the number of businesses reporting that they have mobile optimized sites is as follows:
- US — 33 percent
- UK — 17 percent
- France — 12 percent
- Germany — 37 percent
- Japan — 43 percent
I believe the Japan figure given the country’s long history with mobile content and transactions. I’m more skeptical of the US figure, however.
Google previously reported in February that among the “top 800 Google customers, 79 percent are not ready to engage [their] mobile customers.” It’s thus probably the case that a number of these survey respondents are stating an intention to develop a mobile site rather than reporting what already exists.
A smaller percentage of the same businesses reported having an app:
- US — 19 percent
- UK — 15 percent
- France — 18 percent
- Germany — 26 percent
- Japan — 10 percent
Mobile Marketer Strategies Target “Upper Funnel”
Perhaps the most interesting “marketer finding” among those publicly released is that “65 percent [of business respondents] reported that their mobile strategy targets the research ["upper funnel"] phase of the shopping process.” This is consistent with historical data put out by US mobile ad network Millennial Media.
Mobile is arguably a more effective awareness medium than online display advertising. InsightExpress and Dynamic Logic have both independently documented this across their databases of brand advertising campaigns. However, what the Google data suggest is that most of these marketers are unsophisticated about how to use mobile and so are defaulting to the simplest and broadest approach.
If we revisit the local and shopping data above the takeaway is that mobile is potentially a very effective direct marketing medium and can influence behavior at or near the very bottom of the funnel. Mobile users doing local searches or in stores are on the cusp of buying and potentially open to influence (with the right offer or information).
Accordingly mobile is a parallel — though different — universe to the PC internet and can be used by marketers throughout the purchase funnel. It’s certainly the case that consumers are using their smartphones throughout the buying process.