Get out your slides, this is a great statistic: 53 percent of mobile searches on Bing have a local intent. This was casually told to me yesterday by Microsoft’s Stefan Weitz during a briefing call about a dozen other things. I stopped him and made him repeat and confirm the number. He did. It’s from Microsoft’s internal analysis of their mobile search query data.
There are a few other local search numbers floating around that get frequently cited. A big one is Google’s “20% of search is related to location.” This is a PC-centric estimate by Google that excludes some of the gray areas where intent can’t really be inferred. (Translated into query volume it represents billions of searches per month.) I also argue that most product searches online ultimately should be considered local since 96 percent of buying happens in stores.
What if you could lead people “from search to store”? That’s what Google is increasingly trying to do with product inventory data (embryonic) and some of its new mobile ad units.
Another popular data point sourced to Google is not an internal Google number: “One in three queries from smartphones is about where I am.” In the “telephone game” of data repetition that evolves into “one third of all mobile searches are local.”
Microsoft (Yusuf Mehdi, Dennis Glavin) at SMX Advanced earlier this year put forward the following very compelling statistic about the differences between PC search and mobile search user behavior: 70 percent of PC “query chains” (essentially search tasks) are completed in about one week while 70 percent of mobile users do so in one hour.
If search is a “lean forward” medium, then mobile search is a “run forward” medium. Mobile users are often expressing immediate interests or needs as opposed to people searching on PCs who may be doing research for later. Smartphone users in particular (now 28 percent of the US mobile population according to Nielsen) are very directed and using their devices to navigate, literally and figuratively, through the physical world. Mobile gives people an opportunity to be online and in the world at the same time.
People on mobile devices are often looking for information and assistance to help them make buying decisions as they literally move toward the point of sale. And 53 percent of the queries that people are doing (at least on Bing) are questions about things either not that far away, pretty close or right in front of them (in the case of in-store product queries).
Mobile user demand for information that can be acted on in the real world, in real-time is, well, very real. That’s what this Microsoft stat reflects. If that’s not an argument for mobile advertising in general and mobile search in particular, I don’t know what is.