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Millennials Lead the Quest for Mobile-Enabled, Just-in-Time Information

Consumer demand for instant information underscores the importance of mobile search for marketers

No longer do consumers wait until they are back at a home computer to make plans, buy products and connect with friends—instead, consumers are reaching for their smartphones to take action right in the moment. According to a study conducted between March and April 2012 by The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, smartphone and mobile device-connected consumers are falling under a new “culture of real-time information seekers and problem solvers.”

Half of all US smartphone users, according to Pew’s data, had used their device in the 30 days prior to the survey to coordinate a gathering. And nearly half had used it to decide whether or not to visit a business like a restaurant. Non-smartphone owners are following this trend to a much lesser degree—only 10% had used their mobile phone during the 30-day period to decide whether or not to visit a business. Other popular smartphone information quests included solving an unexpected problem, looking something up to settle an argument and looking up a sports score.

Unsurprisingly, millennials are leading this real-time information-seeking trend. The frequent texters and savvy social networkers are using their devices to coordinate plans, find information and make decisions. It’s likely that the Gen X and Boomer generations will catch up with younger consumers, especially as smartphone penetration continues to grow among older consumers. The Pew study showed that less than half of US mobile phone owners ages 30 to 49 used their phones to coordinate a gathering, compared to 60% of those in the 18-to-29 age group.

As network speeds improve and even more consumers adopt smartphones, real-time information access will become the new normal. The shift toward immediate, “just-in-time” information access means that marketers and content providers must meet demand for mobile-optimized content. The trend also underscores the importance of mobile search to a marketer’s mobile strategy.

According to March 2012 data from online advertising management platform Marin Software, paid search spends share of US mobile advertising continues to climb. In January 2011, paid search accounted for 3.4% of US mobile ad spending. By December 2011, that share rose to 8.7%.

Mobile paid search spending is increasing for good reason. Between January and December 2011, mobile paid search’s share of all Google clicks rose 132%. Marin Software is forecasting that smartphones and other internet-enabled mobile devices will account for 25% of all Google paid-search clicks by the end of 2012.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Tablets Take Flight” and “Facebook Adoption High, Ad Rates Low in Spain.”

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