How People Use Mobile Search

Digital marketing agency, iCrossing, have just published some interesting research about how Americans use search and the mobile internet.

Firstly, 30% of respondents use the mobile web and of these, 50% several times a week or more. This is among the highest figure I’ve seen, but picks up a couple of themes. Use¬†of the mobile web is growing fast, especially so in markets with fixed price data plans. And that people tend to go from non-users to heavy mobile web users very quickly.

The mobile web is still slower than Broadband, for sure, but it’s a very usable product today – and things are getting faster and better on a month by month basis.

75% of mobile web users use mobile search, but it’s much higher on smart phones with qwerty keyboards. These people are roughly 3 times (81% v 25%) more likely to use the mobile web and 4 times more likely to use mobile search (67% v 18%).

I find this stat a little odd, as people who have grown up with sms, don’t find using sms-style input even vaguely difficult. It would be interesting to see what would happen in Europe, with a longer established sms culture.

The preferred search methods are the familiar internet search brands, with Google leading the way. This isn’t such great news for operators, who you’d have thought would want to play in this game themselves, especially when you consider the potential revenues involved. However, many have accelerated this process by doing deals with Google, Yahoo! and the rest, which seems to me like Little Red Ridinghood inviting the wolf to lunch – the best outcome is that Wolfie scoffs the lot and the worst is that Red’s on the menu.

Having said that, maybe the role of the internet search giants is inevitable in mobile and it’s better to fight battles that operators can actually win.

Maps, weather and local info are the three areas people are searching for. This ties up with what’s happening at AdMob, where users tend to use ads to find new content and sites they didn’t know about. In that sense search and discovery are complementary.

The final (unsurprising) finding is that users expect to have mobile specific content and not just a website forced into a small screen. Just as 10 years ago, brands were taking to the web, nowadays visionary brands are launching mobile websites, with the rump to follow soon.

Download your free copy of the report here – registration required.

—–>Follow us on Twitter too: @russellbuckley and @caaarlo