Search Is Number One Content Discovery Tool For Mobile Users

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Yesterday, the IAB released a report that seeks to “rehabilitate” the mobile web. Based on a Harris survey of 2,000 US mobile internet users, it argues that despite the gap in time spent, mobile users value and heavily utilize the mobile web.

Interestingly survey respondents perceived themselves to be using the mobile web and apps equally despite significant, actual usage differences as measured by comScore. Mobile users spend 88 percent of their time in apps according to the measurement firm.

One of the key findings of the report is that search and social media are the primary ways that mobile users discover new content on their smartphones.

Search mobile discovery IAB

Source: IAB, Harris

Search is the leading way mobile users said they find mobile content/websites. Fifty four percent of respondents picked search as the top method. After that, 29 percent said “word of mouth” and 26 percent found content through social media on their mobile devices. Search is also widely used in the various app stores as a content discovery tool, second only to “look at what’s free.”

While search isn’t used to the same degree in mobile that it is on the PC it’s still a critical tool for both consumers and marketers. In terms of mobile search access, survey respondents appeared to favor the mobile web over search apps.

mobile search access IAB

Source: IAB, Harris

The “big picture takeaway” from the report is that it’s a mistake for marketers and publishers to neglect the mobile web. Indeed, in some categories the mobile web is much more widely used than apps.

Mobile web vs. apps

Source: IAB, comScore (2014)

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