Mobile Searches are Beating PCs in the Data Quest

You’re heading home from work and there’s a traffic tie-up. You want to know what detour will get you home the fastest. You’re in your car, but that’s not a problem, thanks to your smartphone. You’re at a restaurant and you want to know if you’ll be finished with your meal in time to make the movie. Your smartphone makes finding the answer easy. Before the advent of  the smartphone, the search for answers depended upon access to a personal computer. How is your smartphone changing mobile search trends?

Google, the oracle of the worldwide web, keeps a close eye on the trends that it detects from its search engine. Last year, Google employees were heard to make predictions that soon, mobile search queries would overtake searches launched from desktop computers. That prediction has now come true, as the company announces that more Google searches took place on mobile devices than on computers in ten countries, including the United States and Japan.  The mobile queries include mobile browser-based searches and those that came from Google’s mobile search apps.

This news doesn’t mean that personal computers are ready for mothballs; it simply indicates that, for the first time, the number of mobile searches made via smartphones surpassed those by PCs. According to comScore, mobile queries made by tablets and smartphones comprised 29 percent of the total search volume across the entire industry.  Mobile devices, particularly smartphones, claim 60 percent of digital media time compared to 40 percent for the personal computer. Google has declined to comment on the comScore data.

Ad revenues don’t match the discrepancy in usage, but the pundits who ponder the crystal balls of technology expect to see that gap shrink. The mobile search dimensions are proving that there is no such thing as status quo in the restless world of technology. Have revenues for Google peaked on the PC? And if so, will Google take share from its PC rivals, or will it boost mobile search revenues in order to maintain growth?

The release of this data takes place in the context of new AdWords and Google Display Network tools and announcements which cover new ad formats, new automation tools for both search and display ads, and new measurement and attribution capabilities that emphasize store visits and offline measuring.

Jerry Dischler, Vice President of Product Management for AdWords, explains that this mobile search surge is “a real turning point in digital adverting and we have been investing in mobile-focused initiatives.” Dischler isn’t saying that consumers are fickle, but he notes that relevancy trumps brand loyalty when it comes to mobile search patterns. The challenge for marketers will be to develop a reflex, no matter what device users are on, so that they can avoid falling behind in the race. To stay on top, Google’s ad format initiatives are taking place in the automobile, hotel, and mortgage industries.

According to Dischler, 50 percent of the automobile queries are mobile searches. The new search ad format allows users to swipe through the interior and exterior images of the car. Tap an image and you’ll bring up a page with more information. Tap on the dealer link in the landing page or the initial ad and you’ll be taken to a search results page that provides ads with local dealer listings. Chrysler is a launch partner for the new ads.

Looking for a hotel? The revamped format for Hotel Ads offers special information pages and “Book a Room” ads that can also be from online travel sites.

Although a mortgage query and a mobile search are a natural match, Dischler admits that the initial experiences weren’t what they could be. Google Compare will let consumers compare the mortgage rates. They’ll be able to review the information that’s customized for their search and shows fees, interest rates, and loan terms. The Google search ad will let users apply directly or contact a lender right from the ad.

Google did not expand on the other eight countries whose mobile devices overtook desktop computers for searches, nor did Google provide details on what the volume of personal computer and mobile search queries are now, or how recently this change took place. But market watchers know that, just as the term implies, the world has definitely gone mobile.

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