Commentary

Google Study Spotlights Smartphones

Nokia-Smartphone

Google released a batch of smartphone usage data today based on a new study it commissioned from market research firm Ipsos OTX, based on a survey of more than 5,000 U.S. smartphone users at the end of 2010. The upshot of the findings: people are using smartphones a lot for searching and shopping businesses, and advertisers should have a strong mobile presence and use the medium for marketing.

Among the highlights: 79% of smartphone consumers use their phones to help with shopping; 74% of smartphone shoppers make a purchase, whether online, in-store, or on their phones; 88% of those who look for local information on their smartphones take action within a day; and 82% of smartphone users notice mobile ads. More data points from the study can be found here. (Google is hosting a Webinar on the research tomorrow.)

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The usage rates are 70% or higher for many of the mobile activities spotlighted in a Google blog post about the study -- a gaudy list of figures the search giant no doubt hopes will leave marketer's mouths' watering over mobile advertising. With its early lead in mobile search, its AdMob purchase, Android, and plans to harness near-field communication (NFC) technology for mobile commerce and advertising, Google has made little secret of its ambitions for the emerging medium.

So the more evidence it can provide to convince advertisers and agencies to ramp up mobile efforts, the better for Google's new growth business. The numbers from the Google/Ipsos study, though, seem a tad aggressive, especially concerning mobile advertising. For example, half of the 82% of smartphones users who have seen an ad have taken an action, according to the research. Of that half, 49% have made a purchase, 42% have clicked on an ad and 35% have visited a Web site. That equates to a roughly 25% conversion rate for purchases -- very high by any standard.

But do people buying 99-cent apps account for a high proportion of those purchases? It would be interesting to know what range of goods or services people are buying through their phones to get a better fix on what's driving the conversions.

That's where more qualitative data about mobile advertising would help to fill out the picture for marketers beyond the topline quantitative numbers. And given Google's self-interest in commissioning and publicizing research that points to high ROI in mobile advertising, those numbers should be taken with a large grain of salt.

1 comment about "Google Study Spotlights Smartphones".
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  1. Steven Graff from Bloofusion Inc., April 27, 2011 at 7:40 p.m.

    And this is why the whole iPhone vs. Android argument is stupid. Google has no desire to squash the iOS market, putting a free OS in the hands of manufacturers just puts more potential eyeballs in front of a Google ads faster.

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