In an indicator that smartphones are becoming consumers' top platform when it comes to daily activities, search giant Google announced more of its searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 different countries, including the US.
The report from Google comes right on the heels of the company's requirement that websites offer mobile-friendly versions. On April 21, Google instituted changes to its search algorithm that give greater weight to those sites that work well on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
These changes by Google, and an overall shift to by consumers and users to mobile devices will affect businesses large and small. In recognition of this, Google is pushing its way toward a mobile-friendly world and adjusting its business model, especially the cash cow that is Web advertising.
In recognition of these changing search habits, the company announced a slew of innovations to AdWords, Google's online advertising service, this week.
These included Automobile Ads, Hotel Ads, and a mortgage feature for Google Compare, as well as AdWords attribution, cross-device conversions integrated with automated bidding, and marketing experience.
The automobile ad format takes users directly from Google.com to a carousel of car images that shows how a car looks inside and out. Tapping on an image brings up more information about the car.
The hotels format shows users current prices from a variety of sources. When travelers are ready to decide, they can select Book to complete their reservation.
The mortgage feature from Compare lets users find the latest mortgage rates from multiple mortgage providers, then review a customized set of criteria like interest rate, terms of the loan, and fees.
In addition, users will be able to apply with an approved lender or speak to a qualified adviser for more information, directly from the ad.
A Google company report, conducted in partnership with Ipsos MediaCT, surveyed 8,470 people with smartphones who had used apps in the previous week.
The study found that, of those who downloaded an application based on an advertisement viewed on their smartphone, 50% said they were prompted to do so by a search ad -- indicating search ads don't just raise app visibility, but also drive app downloads.
Google's announcement and report also follow a study from IT research firm comScore, which found that while most of the growth in digital media consumption over the past four years has occurred on smartphones (up 394%) and tablets (up 1,721%), these mobile platforms are not eating into aggregate time spent on desktop, which has still grown 37% over this time period.
The report also found that across every age demographic there are a substantially higher percentage of multi-platform and mobile-only Internet users than the previous year.
Overall, Google remains the leader in the US core search market, with 66% marketshare of search queries that were conducted in the fourth quarter of 2014.
"In terms of multi-platform search activity measured by comScore, Google’s strong leadership on both smartphones and tablets boosts its share of the multi-platform search market by several percentage points versus desktop alone," the report noted.