Survey: Consumers Blame Brands For Bad Location Data

PinToday at SMX West local data and marketing platform provider Placeable released findings from two related surveys it recently conducted online. The company polled consumers (n=1,000 US adults) and marketers (n=228) to gather data on local search attitudes and behaviors.

Marketers were asked to discuss their behavior when they acted as consumers. Overall the marketers (as consumers) were more mobile, more interested in personalization and more active in social sharing and content creation than their “ordinary consumer” peers.

Below are some of the more interesting “regular consumer” findings from the survey.

Percent that use a search engine to find a local business in the category:

  • 56 percent to find a retailer
  • 51 percent to find a restaurant
  • 25 percent to locate a bank ATM (nearly 50 percent go to a bank website)

The location where local search happens:

  •  71 percent say they’re most likely to be home when they research and confirm a business location before visiting the business for the first time
  • 22 percent use a phone
  • 7 percent drive directly to business

The way a question is framed or worded in a survey can sometimes profoundly impact (or skew) the responses. I’m not saying that happened here. But the “71 percent do their research and location lookups at home” is somewhat counterintuitive now that so many people have smartphones (65+ percent). And many local verticals and directory sites see between 40 percent and 60 percent of their traffic coming now from mobile devices.

My guess here is that when people are doing research and comparing businesses they want the larger screen of a PC (or potentially a tablet). However it’s possible that some of the 71 percent are doing research on smartphones while at home, although the question juxtaposes use of a phone and being “at home.” 

The survey also found that the majority of respondents lost trust or confidence in a brand or business when online listings are found to be incorrect (73 percent) or when consumers get lost because of bad directions from incorrect location information (67 percent).

This slight discrepancy suggests people blame businesses slightly less if directions are inaccurate (vs. incorrect online listings). The problems are one and the same, however, given that directions are derived from the database of listings — bad address, bad directions.

On the question of receptiveness to personalized promotions or offers:

  • 55 percent liked the idea (compared with 72 percent of marketers in their roles as consumers)
  • 45 percent said they weren’t interested or didn’t like it (probably goes to privacy)

Here context and wording really matter. In this case “personalization” was undefined and left up to the respondent to consider.

The safe inference is that consumers are ambivalent about personalization and the little understood methodologies behind it. Pew found two years ago that consumers overwhelmingly don’t like personalization when it comes to search results in general.

Despite being ambivalent about personalized offers, these consumer respondents were very open to receiving offers in general. Just over 60 percent said that they would try a competitor upon seeing a special offer while searching for a specific business. That number went way up to 73 percent in the case of restaurants.

Conquesting, whether in search or display advertising, appears to work (with the right offer).

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Search Engines: Maps & Local Search Engines | Stats: Search Behavior | Top News

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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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