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Digital map usage surges thanks to mobile devices

US and global consumers spend a large amount of time with digital maps, but marketers have precious few opportunities to advertise to them in the current digital ecosystem. Marketers are still searching for a truly compelling way to capture consumers at this gateway between the digital and physical worlds, according to a new eMarketer report, “Maps and Map Marketing: Big Potential Seen in a Burgeoning User Base, More Open Playing Field.”

Map usage has exploded in the smartphone era, with double-digit gains in users and usage now accounting for billions of minutes of mobile device time each month.

Across all platforms, the US digital map user base totaled 163 million in June 2014, a 9% rise from June 2013, according to comScore data provided by MapQuest. The number of mobile and tablet map users rose 22% year over year to 117 million, while the desktop map user tally fell 16% to 76 million.

Digging deeper into map user access habits, data from comScore Media Metrix Multi-Platform showed US internet users doing almost all of their map activity from mobile devices, with 90% of users’ time spent with maps occurring via either smartphone or tablet in May 2014.

That smartphone users use maps regularly is not in doubt. For example, a March 2014 survey by B2X Care Solutions and Motorola found that 52% of US smartphone users had used Google Maps during the month, and 59% stated they had used their phones’ GPS system in that timeframe.

December 2013 data from Experian Marketing Services paints a similar picture, with a combined 53% of US smartphone owners using either the Google Maps app (40.4%) or its mobile website (12.6%) in the prior 30 days. Apple’s Maps app was the next closest at 26.6%.

User data points up the opportunity for consumer engagement via mobile maps. A January 2014 InMobi survey of US mobile internet users found that locating an advertiser on a map was respondents’ fourth most common action after seeing an advertisement on a mobile device.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “Maps and Map Marketing: Big Potential Seen in a Burgeoning User Base, More Open Playing Field.”

This report answers these key questions:

  • How are maps used by consumers?
  • Will Apple and Google continue to control the map audience?
  • What new opportunities are emerging for innovative marketing to map users?

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer corporate subscribers.

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