Yahoo! Urges Brands to Mobilise Websites

I have spent the last two hours at the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), where Yahoo! has been presenting the findings of its Appetite research programme.

The research was carried out earlier this year and the results have been available for some time, but they are worth repeating here.

The research cites GSMA/comScore data that shows that over 18.9m people per month – over 40 per cent of the UK population – are using the internet on their phones. 7.6m of these are classed as heavy users, accessing the web daily on mobile, while 4.9m do so weekly, and 6.4m less than weekly.

Yahoo! ran a number of studies for the project, including focus groups and depth interviews, video diaries in which people explained how they used apps and the mobile web, and an online, quantitative survey of 2,000 consumers.

The research found that, as the performance of the mobile web has improved, and people become more familiar with it, so they are expecting a “PC level of internet experience on their mobile”, as Yahoo! puts it.

This is backed up by stats on how people use the mobile web. While 63 per cent use it for functional activities such as checking email, search, maps, news sport and weather information, the proportion of people using it for entertainment – including social networking, streamed music, TV and video, web browsing and blogging – is not far behind on 58 per cent.

The research also identified what Yahoo! calls “the decline of snacking”, with 77 per cent of mobile media users saying that their average web session was more than five minutes long.

Respondents were also asked whether, given the choice, they would prefer to interact with a brand or organisation via a mobile website or an app. 55 per cent had no preference, while 33 per cent said they would prefer a mobile site, and 12 per cent said they would prefer an app.

When asked about their experience of using various services via a mobile site and an app, however, apps came out on top. For Facebook, 33 per cent of users said their experience of using the mobile site was positive, while for the app, the figure was 44 per cent. For YouTube, the website scored 21 per cent, the app 28 per cent. And for Twitter, the mobile site scored 18 per cent, the app, 29 per cent.

Finally, the research found that if brands are going to engage with customers via mobile, they must take care to get it right and deliver a good user experience. When asked who they would blame for a bad mobile experience, 44 per cent of respondents said the brand, while 29 per cent said they would blame the network provider, and 34 per cent the phone.

The conclusion? According to Yahoo’s head of UK trade research, Patrick Hourihan, who presented the findings: “Brands absolutely have to deliver a mobile-optimised website.”

If that was the case when the results of the research were originally released a couple of months back, its even more so now.