Smartphones and tablets have both opened up new opportunities and made the world more complicated for marketers. Over the past two years, study after study has confirmed the importance of mobile and the improved performance metrics of mobile vs. PC advertising. Now, newer studies are starting to reveal more subtle insights into mobile consumer behavior.
One such study, released today, looks at the mobile path to purchase in three verticals and the differences between smartphone and tablet usage among US adults. It was commissioned by call-tracking provider Telmetrics and mobile ad network xAd. The research was based on “an online survey of 1,500 US smartphone and tablet users and actual observed consumer behaviors from Nielsen’s Smartphone Analytics Panel of 6,000 Apple and Android users.”
Restaurants, Autos, Travel Oh My
The three verticals examined in the study were Restaurants, Travel and Automotive (including repair and purchases). And there are a range of interesting findings, some of which are new and some of which confirm other data already in the market.
Source: xAd-Telmetrics “mobile path to purchase” study
Immediate Consumer Purchase Intent
The study reveals that consumer behaviors vary by device and by vertical. For example, time elapsed before purchase varies by category. In Restaurants, the study found that 89 percent of smartphone owners and 84 percent of tablet users have immediate purchase intent and take action within 24 hours of their research. However 64 percent of smartphone and 44 percent of tablet users in Restaurants make a decision within an hour.
In the Travel and Autos categories there was somewhat more deferred purchase intent. The study found that 33 percent of smartphone/tablet users in the Travel category “are looking to complete their transaction within the day.” In Autos, 49 percent of mobile users wanted to transact the same day. In both cases, regardless of the precise timing, roughly half of smartphone and tablet users (51 percent in Autos and 46 percent in Travel) did make a purchase. In the restaurants category 85 percent converted.
The “takeaway” is that half of tablet, smartphone users who conducted research on a mobile device ultimately made a purchase. This is a dramatic finding.
Importance of Local Ad Relevance
Another significant finding, which confirms IAB and other previous research, is that local relevance drives mobile ad response. Asked what variables or factors would cause them to respond to ads mobile users said the following:
- Ads that are locally relevant to me: smartphone (73 percent) tablet (70 percent)
- Ads that offer coupons/promotions: smartphone (72 percent) tablet (69 percent)
- Ads from known brands: (59 percent) tablet (65 percent)
The study also found that 66 percent of mobile device owners noticed ads, while 33 percent clicked on mobile ads.
On the Go vs. at Home Usage
Confirming lots of other data, most tablet usage happens at home (72 percent), while smartphone owners mostly use their devices “on the go” (68 percent) — although there is substantial at home smartphone usage as well. As the 7-inch tablet category continues to take hold we may see some additional out-of-home tablet usage. However for now tablets are mostly an at-home phenomenon.
Across the three verticals examined “in the car” was the dominant single location for smartphone-based Restaurant and Autos searches. In Travel at home edged in the car for highest usage location (37 percent vs. 28 percent). Indeed, for smartphone owners the two top usage locations are at home or in the car. In the latter case people are often on their way to buy something and looking up information, which is partly why they convert so well.
Calls and Map Lookups
As that suggests, a very common use case for both smartphone and tablet owners is looking for business contact details and directions. The study found that 73 percent of the mobile users had looked for a phone number and contacted a business within the past 30 days. And 84 percent of mobile users had looked for a business location or maps and driving directions in the past month.
Finally, the study found different apps and sites were preferred in different verticals and by device. According to the survey:
- Smartphone users: Local directory apps are most popular for Restaurant and Automotive users (53 percent and 34 percent, respectively); branded websites are most popular for Travel users (47 percent)
- Tablet users: Branded websites are the most popular in all categories (51 percent Restaurant, 56 percent Travel, and 48 percent Automotive)
If nothing else resonates, this study reinforces the notion that smartphone and tablet users are much more “ready to buy” than their PC counterparts. It equally supports the finding that localized mobile ads are perceived by consumers as more relevant and therefore are more likely to drive response than ads without location.