New comScore Study Suggests 50 Percent Of Local-Mobile Search Happening In Apps

Localeze, 15 Miles and comScore released findings from their 5th Local Search Study. The survey of 4,000 US adults (together with behavioral data) documents how consumers search for and find local business information across digital platforms. It’s a pretty comprehensive study and there are a great many interesting pieces of data, some of which I’ve written up here and here.

In this article I want to focus on a single finding: 49 percent of smartphone and tablet owners are using apps to find local information. On one level this is unremarkable and makes sense; apps are popular and there are lots of apps that use location in one way or another.

We know from Google that 40 percent of browser-based mobile search has a local or offline intent. That already represents significant query volume. But what if half of the local search query volume on mobile devices (and tablets) goes through apps?

That’s not exactly what the survey data show, but it’s a very logical and plausible inference.

We don’t know the total volume of app-based search or local search because nobody is tracking that right now in the same way that PC query volume is tracked. Yet if half of mobile users in the US (including tablets for this discussion) use apps for local lookups and research it stands to reason that perhaps half their queries go through apps vs the browser (read: Google).

Source: comScore, Localeze, 15 Miles

The absolute volume of local-mobile queries could be greater in apps than the browser. This is because smartphone and tablet users (in particular) are typically more active and engaged than PC users as a general matter. The chart above shows that tablet owners conduct (on a percentage basis) more daily and weekly local searches than smartphone and PC owners.

This is “informed speculation” on my part, but I would imagine that if half of mobile consumers are using apps for local search then at least half of local search query volume is happening inside those apps. In terms of which apps smartphone and tablet owners are using for local searches and lookups, comScore found the following:

Source: comScore, Localeze, 15 Miles

My understanding is that this question involved a predetermined list of choices so it does not reflect all apps being used by consumers for local search. For example, 20 million people are using Foursquare but it’s not represented here (unless reflected in “other”).

The top app being used for local search is Google Maps according to the study. However, Yahoo, Mapquest, Bing and others are not that far behind and apparently in a more competitive position vs. their relative positions in search on the PC. Indeed, there are some very interesting implications for Google if Google Maps were to be replaced by an Apple mapping product at some point.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Mobile | Search Engines: Location / Checkin Services | Search Engines: Maps & Local Search Engines | Stats: comScore | Stats: Popularity | Stats: Search Behavior

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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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  • nagleonce

    So WHAT apps are people using to find local infomation? What are the top five search local search apps?

  • Barrie Featherstone

    Mobile search queries are about go off the chain when Augmented Reality technology filters through.

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