Google: Mobile Searches Overtaking Desktop - InformationWeek

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5/6/2015
10:05 AM
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Google: Mobile Searches Overtaking Desktop

More and more people are searching the Web on their smartphones and tablets, and Google is looking to serve up more ads and services to users through their mobile devices.

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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.

(Image: FirmBee via Pixabay)

(Image: FirmBee via Pixabay)

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.

[ Read about the latest spat between Microsoft and Google. ]

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.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
5/7/2015 | 8:17:05 AM
Re: Not surprised
I think that "larger display" idea is spot on. A large segment of the mobile search market isn't necessarily phones, but tablets. I know more and more folks who are not replacing traditional desktops and laptops at home when an old computer dies. They're sticking to just an iPad or something similar.

I have also found, from personal experience, that the traditional large screen interface actually works somewhat well with the largest form factor of phones. While I have to do a little zooming, I opt for the desktop of more sites than the mobile version while on my Galaxy Note 4 because mobile sites are often missing features and options that I want to use.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
5/7/2015 | 7:14:43 AM
Re: Not surprised
Similarly so, unless some form of larger display can be involved, adverts will always have more prescence on a desktop as there is simply more real estate, which makes it easier to get across the message in the commercial, whatever it turns out to be. 

It's impressive to see desktop usage still rising though, even with smartphones dominating. I imagine when we move on to whatever technology supercedes mobile handsets, the desktop will still be around. 
Thomas Claburn
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50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
5/6/2015 | 5:06:30 PM
Re: Not surprised
I doubt mobile search will ever be as lucrative as desktop search. Using a phone to surf the web while on the move often isn't conducive to ecommerce.
jagibbons
50%
50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
5/6/2015 | 12:43:29 PM
Not surprised
As the percentage of smartphones and tablets grows over traditional computers, this trend should only increase in the future. What is interesting is Google's play to provide higher rankings based upon those sits that are mobile-friendly. That is kind of an ultimatim for anyone who isn't on the mobile bandwagon. You better get there quick or your SEO is going to suffer.
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