Local Mobile Search Grows Rapidly, Shows Seasonality

The local mobile search market is still rapidly growing as consumers turn to their smartphones to find information on local businesses. At the same time, local marketers are realizing that they can pump up sales by advertising through this channel. The latest research from AT&T gives marketers insights into the changes that are taking place in the local mobile channel.

Although AT&T is just one of the players in the local mobile market, a look at the data they recently compiled from their network can tell us what’s happening in this format in general. For example, search used to be strictly a desktop computing business. But now, about 30% of searches in the YP Local Ad Network are mobile.

In both the general online and mobile searches, restaurants and automotive are the top categories. However, the most popular categories diverge after that. The next most searched categories on mobile devices are movie theaters, beauty services and hotels. And the fastest growing categories in mobile search recently have included law enforcement agencies, churches and shopping centers.

And, for marketers already planning for the 2012 holiday season, the local mobile channel can be a goldmine.  Last minute shoppers were in a panic during the week before Christmas when they realized that many national e‑commerce sites couldn’t deliver on time during the most recent holiday season. These shoppers turned to local retailers and drove up  search traffic by 3X as they looked for locally available gifts.

Analysts reviewing the statistics from the AT&T data note that the local mobile searches are all about consumers finding information on-​the-​go. This finding is supported by looking at consumer behavior following the mobile search. Consumers take the following steps:

  • Click to call 54%
  • Visit map/​directions 27%
  • Visit website 10%
  • Read/​write review 9%

In comparison, after a general online search, the next action for most consumers, 70%, is to visit the website.

Findings like this should lead more local advertisers to consider the best way to invest in mobile search and to include this channel in their marketing mix as soon as possible.

[Source: AT&T Interactive Local Insight Report. 2012. Web. 7 May 2012] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.