The Search Is On: Mobile

More people looking to find something are using their mobile phones to do it.

As mobile handset market share evolves, the focus continues to be on finding who does what with which platform.

In some countries -- including many in South America -- feature phones are more the norm due to various economic and technical issues, while in China some companies target only iPhone and iPad users as a self-selecting, affluent demographic.

Meanwhile, the demographic of the U.S. mobile market is clearly moving in the direction of smartphone -- passing the 50 percent mark, depending on the research source. Android and iPhone clearly rule that space.

And with one of the key assets of mobile being location, it begs the question of who is searching the most -- and from which platform.

Along comes research from Chitika Insights, the research arm of the online ad network and data analytics firm Chitika, analyzing search patterns based on mobile platform.

They found that Apple users as a whole search more than others. For example, the researchers determined that more than half (54%) of iOS Web traffic is devoted to search, compared to a little more than a third (36%) of the Internet average. Mobile searches via Android also were higher than the average Web search -- at 43 percent -- but lower than Apple’s 54 percent.

It only seems logical that searches from smartphones would more likely be location-based rather than general desktop-based searches, which is exactly what the researchers found. Realistically speaking, someone searching from a phone is looking to find something specific based on where they are and what they’re doing at the time, such as looking for a restaurant or a certain nearby product or service.

For local searches by mobile operating system, Apple led with more than a third (36%) of searches with Android at a little more than a quarter (28%). The new search findings are consistent with previous Chitika Insights studies that showed the click-through rates on iOS were slightly higher than those on Android phones. The company measured hundreds of millions of mobile ad impressions in its network for a week in early April. They also measured iPads against iPhones and found a higher click-through rate on iPads.

As many would argue, click-through rate is hardly a definitive measure of success, but it is yet one more indicator of platform usage and consumer behavior.

And when it comes to new iPads, the research showed that geographic location in the U.S. is a factor. Chitika’s data showed a correlation between the states with high median income and a high share of new iPad traffic. The top five states with the highest share of new iPad traffic were California, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington D.C. and Washington State. Not so coincidentally, those states also fall into the category of high median income levels, based on U.S. Census Bureau data. Another way to look at the results is that the coastal states have a higher rate of new iPad adoption -- which surprised the researchers, according to a company spokesman.

Various pieces of research are starting to point to some directions of behaviors, whether by click-through, geographic device location or shopping behaviors. For example, recent projections from BIA/Kelsey indicate that mobile local search will pass desktop search in just a few years, likely leading to a rise in locally based ad spending. Mobile buying patterns also can be factored in, with mobile shoppers spending on average $104 per orders, according to RichRelevance, as earlier reported.

The marketing opportunity is to continue to move with the consumer, who will be more engaged in more places.

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