Although the overwhelming majority of mobile searches (68% at home and 9% at work, in fact) are occurring in the home or at the office and within reach of another bigger screen, mobile searchers are looking for immediate gratification. According to a comprehensive and in-depth study of mobile search habits from Google and Nielsen, 63% of mobile search-triggered actions occur within an hour of the search.
Of those actions that are purchase-related conversions (28%), more than half (55%) are conversions involving either a call, store visit or purchase. The devices themselves may not be "on the go" -- since only 17% of searches on them occur away from work or home, but the user is clearly in a serve-me-now state. And the mobile search usually results in two follow-up actions.
Almost three-quarters (73%) of mobile searches result in some follow-up action or a conversion, including additional research (36%), visiting a retail Web site (25%) and sharing the search information (18%). Less than a third (28%) result in conversion, defined here as a store visit, call or purchase.
As the day goes on, people are more likely to use devices for queries. About 59% of mobile searches occur after 3 p.m., peaking at 8 p.m. to midnight (22%). The reason people reach for their phone or tablet is convenience or speed (82%).
But context matters when it comes to the topic searched. While 15% of all searches involve entertainment and arts (the leading category) and 70% of these searches occur in the home, searchers in a school environment over-index for this category, followed by home and on the go. Only 7% of searches involve food, but people in a store are twice as likely to search food topics than any other subject.
Interestingly, ads appear to have a greater affect when married to actionable context. For instance, in comparing how respondents recalled search ads, in-store over-indexed considerably over home and work, and on the go seemed to be the environment least likely to register ad recall. Less surprisingly, the ads are recalled best when the searcher is in need of specific information or is in the midst of deciding on a purchase.
Google and Nielsen used a combination of user logs for 416 respondents, follow-up surveys and exit interviews to compile the detailed data around mobile search behaviors. The full report, including breakdowns of conversion and cross-channel influence by search category, is available at Google.
While obviously promoting the impact of mobile search on the consumer path to purchase, the study is also part of the company’s ongoing line of argument this year that user context is the critical variable that mobile advertisers need to consider.