Search Engines Trump Apps for Smartphone Searches

Consumers favour using search engine apps over branded apps when using smartphones to search for information on products and services by a factor of almost two to one, according to new research published today by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

The DMA Mobile Marketing Council’s Mobile Search 2012 study reveals that 68 per cent of UK smartphone owners prefer using search engines to research potential purchases, compared to just 37 per cent who use branded apps for the same purpose.

The research, which polled 1,000 UK consumers on their smartphone usage and preferences, also reveals the kind of content consumers search for on their phones. The top reason is ‘when looking for offers and deals’, cited by half of those surveyed. 40 per cent turn to their phones when looking for information about a brand, and 27 per cent when looking for a place to eat.

News tops the list of the most popular type of content searched for (54 per cent). 30 per cent use their devices to search for information on high street retailers, 29 per cent on restaurants and hotels, 26 per cent for supermarkets and 23 per cent for consumer electronics.

While more than half of mobile users own a smartphone, 60 per cent of consumers still prefer searching for information via a PC, compared to 15 per cent who favour using their smartphone over a PC.

“While it’s reasonable to expect that the rise of smartphone ownership would lead to the imminent demise of desktop, our research suggests this isn’t happening as quickly as anticipated,” said Richard Hicks, head of mobile for ITV, and a member of the DMA’s Mobile Marketing Council. “However, smartphones have quickly assumed an important role in the lives of consumers. This research is essential reading for marketers to understand how and why consumers are using smartphones to search for information online.”

The Mobile Search 2012 study can be downloaded from the DMA’s website.

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