About one in five mobile consumers pursued some type of m-commerce activity, like comparing prices or buying digital content, based on a mobile ad they saw, according to a new study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
The research, conducted by On Device Research, involved asking a group of 260 mobile users to keep track of their m-commerce activity for a week (via their handsets) and then complete a follow-up survey about their activities and attitudes toward mobile shopping and advertising.
Survey participants owned either a smartphone or a feature phone and were demographically representative of the U.S. population. Each was paid $10 to take part. Mobile advertising was the second-most-common factor prompting m-commerce activity (22%) after citing mobile as “the easiest way” to do things (24%) like find product information or a store location, buying physical or digital goods or checking status on an auction site.
Other top reasons for turning to m-commerce were “something I planned to do” (21%), boredom/filling time (21%), finding the best deal (20%) and researching for a future purchase (16%). The follow-up survey showed that mobile shopping is mainly about convenience and trying to get the best deal.
Only a small proportion of consumers are actually buying stuff through their phones. Researching product information was the most popular m-commerce task, with 28% doing so, followed by searching for a store location (18%), price comparison (12%), digital purchase (9%), physical purchase (5%), checking status on auction sites (4%), and using mobile coupons (3%).
Apps and other digital goods are the most common type of purchase, with about three-quarters (76%) of m-commerce users doing so through iTunes, Google Play or other digital outlets. Clothing, entertainment activities (e.g., restaurants and movies) and consumer electronics were among other top purchase categories.
People were more likely to buy physical goods if using a branded retail app and were confident that the transaction was secure and protected. Nearly half (47%) of mobile commerce actions took place at home and within the home, and 61% take place in the living room.
More than half (53%) said they had stopped an in-store purchase as a result of using their phone. About one in four (38%) found a better price elsewhere, 30% found a better price online, and 21% found a better item online, among other reasons.
Taking a closer look at advertising, the survey showed that 70% view mobile ads as a “personal invitation” from brands, while 30% saw them as a “personal invasion.” That flies in the face of much prior research showing that people view mobile ads as intrusive because of the more personal nature of handheld devices compared to computers.
A study earlier this year by Ball State’s Institute for Mobile Media Research, for example, found that 70% of college students find mobile ads annoying, and about 75% were "concerned" or "concerned a little" about getting mobile ads. The On Device survey framed the question on mobile ads as a stark choice between personal “invitation” or “invasion,” which may have contributed to the heavy pro-advertising response.
Half (51%) of those who saw ads as an invitation wanted ads they clicked on to allow them to browse the brand or company's broader product offerings. The same was true for 40% of respondents overall.
Asked about the ads targeted to them based on anonymous data, such as location and age and gender, 30% said they liked ads that are relevant, and 27% said they are okay -- but only if permission-based. When asked how mobile ads could be more relevant, people said they were wiling to share information about location, favorite brands, and sites they have visited -- but only in the range of 24% to 28%.
As far as future m-commerce enhancements, nearly a third (31%) said they would like to receive alerts about products they want. Roughly the same percentage would like to pay for a purchase by phone and pick it up in a store, have a better browsing experience, and participate in a mobile loyalty program that includes paying by phone.