Local Search Super-Users Leading The Way

Every once in a while I ask myself how I am using my smartphone and tablet differently now from just six months ago. I have always argued that mobile marketers and media have the dual challenge of having to track multiple moving targets. Not only are the mobile audiences rising and technology changing, but all of us continue to discover and ritualize new aspects of mobile platforms over time. And so it is especially important to understand early enthusiasts for some mobile features, because in all likelihood they are modeling the future behaviors for many of the rest of us.

To wit: YP, in partnership with research and events company Street Fight, found that about half of local mobile searches for goods and services are being done by 24% of smartphone users. This group, dubbed “Avid Local Searcher Users” apparently have gotten into the groove of using their handheld devices for a broad range of look-up activity, perhaps well ahead of the rest of us. In fact, 86% of this avid group will do local searches on their smartphone daily, compared to 15% of average users.

There is no gender disparity among the avid users, but other common early-adopter profile points apply: more likely to be fully employed, a college grad and younger -- 51% between 21 and 35. This group is also much more likely to use mobile shopping apps (91% vs. 53% of average users). And they also are more avid social media users, with about half having checked in with some local service. Which is to say that these are the people already embracing the broadest feature set of the device.   

Perhaps even more interesting in the full white paper of this study is the overall incidence of using local search as part of a purchase process across verticals. For instance, the PC remains the dominant search platform for most categories, but in transportation choices among those who purchased the product, 47% searched on PCs and 48% searched on mobile. And in the restaurants category, 59% of purchasers searched on mobile compared to 63% on the PC. In entertainment the two platforms are almost at parity (67% on desktop vs. 55% on mobile).

The implication is not surprising but still important: there is a multi-screen process occurring as people make their purchase decisions. Marketers need to understand the ways in which the path to purchase moves across screens in order to maintain a persistent message. The shopper is likely in different moods and modes on PC, smartphone and tablet, and so the messaging must accommodate this new and more complex understanding of the user context. 

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