While the mobile channel clearly connects with consumers who are out shopping, a new study of three verticals found that consumer behavior differs among them - and that the type of device also connects to purchase behavior.
The Mobile Path-to-Purchase study was conducted by The Nielsen Company for xAd, a local mobile ad network, and Telmetrics, a mobile call measurement provider. The results are based on data from an online survey of 1,500 U.S. smartphone and tablet users, plus observed consumer behaviors from Nielsen's Smartphone Analytics Panel of 6,000 Apple and Android users, focusing on the travel, restaurant, and auto categories.
Telmetrics and xAd selected these categories because they're expected to see the strongest growth in the next three to five years.
Unsurprisingly, the study found strong intent to purchase among mobile users. Overall, 85 percent of mobile restaurant searchers, 51 percent of mobile auto searchers, and 46 percent of mobile travel searchers ultimately make a purchase.
The study also found that the time to purchase for mobile users is relatively short; for example, 87 percent of mobile users in the restaurant category were planning to make a purchase that day. This held true even in the big-ticket auto and travel categories, where 49 and 33 percent of consumers planned to complete the purchase the same day.
"I found the high completion rates very interesting," said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics. "I've always believed that mobile was the action device, versus the PC being the find device."
Consumers in the survey said local relevance and local offers and promotions were the top reasons for engaging with mobile advertising. When they got it, they responded: 66 percent of mobile searchers noticed mobile ads and 33 percent clicked on an ad. They also wanted contact information for local businesses, such as looking up the address, accessing map and driving directions, and calling the business.
Dinan said this shows that consumers want to use their phones to connect with advertisers, so it's important for them to post that information prominently. "On a PC, you'll do the second click to find the information. Especially on the smartphone, you have to put it up front," he said.
The study also looked at differences in behavior when consumers used phones or tablets. Across all three verticals, tablet owners tended to use the device at home (72 percent), while smartphone users mostly used phones when they were out (68 percent).
Among smartphone owners, local directory apps were the most popular for restaurant and automotive users (53 percent and 34 percent, respectively) while brand websites were most popular for travel users (47 percent). On the other hand, with tablet users, brand websites were more popular than apps among all three categories, with 51 percent restaurant, 56 percent travel, and 48 percent automotive going to branded websites.
The study also found that consumers tend to go to apps or mobile websites they are familiar with. In all categories, smartphone and tablet users were more likely to go directly to the app or website instead of doing a browser search.
These findings show that advertisers need to consider mobile motivation, Dinan said. "What motivates the consumer in the mobile world is not necessarily what motivates the consumer in the online world. If you look at what came out of this study, there's overwhelming evidence that an ad having local relevancy at the time of action was the biggest piece that drove consumers to take action."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
March 19, 2014