Local-mobile ad network xAd released a treasure-trove of data from Q4 2011 this morning. The US-based information is drawn from mobile sites and apps that run its ads and the related user behaviors that xAd observes. These data are interesting in part because xAd has what is probably the largest network offering local search and display advertising outside of Google (AT&T might dispute that claim).
The following were the most frequently searched local content categories in Q4:
Ad performance reported by xAd exceeds comparable online CTRs for both search and display. The network said that average CTRs in Q4 for local search ads were 7 percent, while locally targeted display ads yielded 0.6 CTRs.
Beyond the initial click xAd captures “secondary actions” (i.e., calls, map lookups). The company said that among those who clicked on ads, 37 percent of search clicks and 5 percent of display CTRs delivered these secondary actions.
The secondary actions were further broken down by xAd. Calling a business was the most frequent secondary action taken by local searchers, while maps/directions lookups was the most common action among those clicking on display ads.
Another interesting observation is how display responders (above right) sought more information or reviews but local searchers did not as frequently. This likely indicates the more “directed intent” of search-ad responders vs. display clickers who were being exposed to new information or businesses.
One of the most interesting findings in the xAd report shows how search and display ads reach people at different times of day. While the complementary nature of search and display advertising online is well established, xAd shows by daypart how the two can work together in mobile.
Local search peaks during the middle of the day and declines in the evening. However display exposure peaks “after hours” when people are in leisure mode.
Finally, xAd said that among all mobile subscribers, “mobile browsers are still the primary access method for local-search information.” However for iPhone and Android owners, “in-app access is preferred by a large margin over in-browser access.”
Others have reported similar data, confirming the preference and trend toward apps among smartphone users. “We expect that trend to continue as more users of feature phones switch to smart devices,” explains xAd.
While Google “owns” 95 or more percent of mobile-browser based search the same is not true in the app world, which is more verticalized.