Google's smartphone user research discovers interesting market trends

Google, Ipsos and the Mobile Marketing Association recently administered global surveys in order to better understand mobile usage on a worldwide scale.

According to Search England Land, the companies pulled the data from an online survey of mobile consumers in 30 countries, as well as a telephone poll of 1,000 marketing decision makers with a focus in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Japan.

The data honed in on five categories of smartphone usage - penetration, behavior, activities, commerce and advertising.

In terms of penetration, it's clear that smartphones are becoming more common in the daily lives of shoppers, as the survey found that 79 percent of respondents use their devices for shopping purposes. Furthermore, seven out of 10 users turn on their phones while perusing for items in a store, proving that mobile has become an important part of the research and buying experience.

On a national level, researchers found that 31 percent of the U.S. population owns a smartphone, and 54 percent of Americans have been using one for less than a year. This proves that penetration isn't entirely universal, and smartphone use isn't quite as all-encompassing as marketers would have the general public believe.

Researchers also found that 69 percent of respondents use their phones to look up directions or maps. Search Engine Watch reports in a separate article that Google recently enhanced its Maps feature to highlight places a person has rated or reviewed on Google Places. Using this information, it also recommends additional places the system believes might be enjoyable based on previously shared ratings.

"These new features push forward Google's efforts to be a one-stop-shop for mobile, location-based searches," according to ReadWriteWeb. "From finding the restaurant to walking in the door, Google is building applications to compel smartphone users to use Google and only Google to find, shop and eat at local businesses."

In terms of local search, Google and Ipsos found that more than 50 percent of local searches on mobile devices result in follow-up actions. Of that total, 50 percent make a corresponding in-store purchase. Gigaom notes that mobile searches can be lucrative for retailers, as smartphone users spent a median of $300 on purchases over the last year through their phones.

Research also shows that mobile provides a new outlet for advertisers, as 71 percent of users said they conducted a search based on ad exposure, 82 percent noticed mobile ads and 30 percent reported responding to an ad by clicking on it or going to the site.