Local Mobile Search Usage Growing Fast, Study Finds

A comScore report finds local mobile search is growing at a rapid pace, and attracting a younger, wealthier audience. More than half have a household income in excess of $75,000, and 58 percent are 34 or younger, according to the report.

Consumers looking for local businesses are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to access Internet Yellow Pages and local sites, while similar local searches performed on PCs grew at a steady but slower pace, according to report from research firm comScore. Released by the YPA (Yellow Pages Association), the study looked at the online local search industry, exploring usage trends, and profiling searchers and their engagement with search options.
The number of mobile subscribers accessing business directories on a mobile phone increased 14 percent year over year to 17.3 million users in March 2010, the report found. The increase outpaced 10 percent growth in the number of mobile media users who browsed the mobile Web, used applications or downloaded content during the same time period. A mobile browser was the most common access method for users, with 10.8 million subscribers in March 2010 and 21 percent year-over-year growth. But even as the browser remained the most used mobile feature for access, apps grew at a more rapid pace, with 42 percent year-over-year growth, totaling 4.1 million subscribers in March 2010.
"Mobile offers significant opportunity, both for consumers who need convenient and reliable sources of local information on the go, and also for local search providers that are making this content available in new and innovative ways," said Neg Norton, YPA president. "Yellow Pages and other local sites that have a legacy for providing trusted local business information via print directories and Web search tools are best poised to take advantage of this phenomenally versatile and interactive media. Mobile allows them to extend Internet Yellow Pages to consumers wherever they are."
The comScore study found mobile media attracts a highly desirable consumer segment for advertisers. Mobile use of business directories unlocks a younger, wealthier user base to advertisers. According to the report, 58 percent are 34 or younger and more than half have household income in excess of $75,000. The number of people accessing business directories on a mobile device at least once per week increased more than 16 percent year over year to nearly five million in March 2010.
As local mobile showed double-digit growth, local searches on PCs saw a single-digit gain year over year. Searches on Internet Yellow Pages and portal sites increased 4 percent to 444 million in March 2010, or 5.3 billion annually. The overall universe of core Web search-in which users search for any kind of information on a major Internet search portal like Google or Bing-increased 8 percent to 15.4 billion searches in March 2010, or 187.3 billion annually.
"What's incredible about the growth in local search is that, even during a time of recession when many consumers reined in spending, the need to find a local business certainly didn't go away," said Norton. "Whether it is on a personal computer or a mobile device, consumers have more media choices than ever to find a product or service when they are ready to buy. Advertisers should be considering a multiplatform approach that combines a print, online and mobile strategy designed with their target consumer in mind."