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Mobile Users Expand Their Search Habits

More users searching more frequently, often for local content

August 1, 2011

More than 91 million US consumers will use the internet through a mobile device at least monthly by the end of this year, eMarketer estimates, and research shows that the increase in on-the-go web usage goes hand in hand with more search activity for local content.

According to research from comScore and the Local Search Association, 22% of all US mobile owners used search on their phone in January 2011, up from 16% a year earlier.

In addition to the rise in reach, there has also been a rise in frequency. By January 2011, there was a 10% year-over-year drop in the share of users searching just a few times per month. At the same time, almost-daily usage was up 20%. More than half of mobile search users now search on their device at least weekly.

Frequency with Which US Mobile Search Users Conduct Mobile Searches, Jan 2011 (% of total)

Mobile users are also upping their use of local content, by 34% year over year. While browser usage still dominates in terms of local content access methods, mobile browser popularity dropped slightly between 2010 and 2011. Apps, meanwhile, grew to take a larger piece of the local mobile content pie.

Ways that US Mobile Users Conduct Mobile Searches for Local Content, Jan 2010 & Jan 2011 (% of total)

As mobile users tap apps and browsers to search for local content, they are seeking out weather, news and maps first and foremost, but there has been major growth in usage of other local content, including classified ads (up 51%), online retail (up 50%) and restaurant info (up 40%).

The need for local businesses to reach mobile users when they are nearby is clear and growing. With 33% of all mobile users accessing local content, and 87% of that group GPS-capable, location-based targeting and local search opportunities can help marketers reach customers at a moment of need—and convenience.

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Check out today’s other article, “Advertisers Begin to Look Beyond Facebook and Twitter.”


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