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Presidential debate-related mobile searches increased 2000pc from 2008 to 2012

Mobile search and television go hand-in-hand for consumers looking for real-time information, according to new findings from Google on last week?s presidential debates.

In addition to looking at how consumers searched on their devices in the recent debate, Google also looked at how mobile search queries differ from 2008 to 2012. The results point to how consumers are most likely multitasking while watching TV.

?These spikes that we're seeing show that TV no longer commands our full attention, rather it's often coupled with mobile as a couch companion,? said Adam Grunewald, associate marketing manager for mobile ads at Google, Mountain View, CA.

?TV can be a powerful catalyst to drive someone to search or visit a Web site on their mobile phones and tablets and giving people the ability to interact online with what they see on TV can extend the experience,? he said.

Vote on mobile
According to Google, 47 percent of election-related searches took place either during or immediately after the live debate. With almost half of a day?s queries coming through in a short time period, the news points to consumers actively using their devices to access quick information.

The recent Benghazi attack was a hot topic during the debates, which is indicated in the number of mobile searches. Google claims that there was a 3,300 percent increase in Libya-related searches five minutes after a question was asked about it during the debate.

There was also a 572 percent increase in tax-related queries five minutes after Mitt Romney was asked about his tax plan. Similarly, energy-related searches increased 311 percent and immigration queries skyrocketed 172 percent.

Searches for ?rose garden? increased 79,000 percent and related queries to ?binders of women? spiked by 8,800 percent.

Multiscreen viewing
Nowadays consumers interact with content on multiple screens simultaneously and as a marketer it is not enough to have a presence on only one screen. Therefore, marketers need to think about how to fluidly move messages from screen to screen while thinking of the user context.

This is not the first time that Google has looked at how consumers search from their devices during live TV events.

Earlier this year, the company found that 41 percent of ad searches during the Super Bowl XLVI were made from mobile devices. This shows that consumers are not only interested in finding new content via their devices but are also want additional information about TV advertisers on the spot (see story).

Based on a user?s intent, there is a change in which screen takes precedence in consumer attention.

?In some cases TV is commanding the majority of a person's attention and mobile devices are being used simultaneously to do related activities like searching for things mentioned in the program, posting on a forum, or looking up actors on IMDB,? Mr. Grunewald said.

?However, we are seeing a large rise in people that use their TV as the second screen, playing as background entertainment while they search, work or shop online on their digital devices,? he said.

?This data really shows how the game has changed for TV advertisers. No longer does a business air a commercial and hope that the message stays with the customer when they visit the mall two weeks later. The important thing from a marketing perspective is making sure that you can be easily found across all devices when the consumer looks for you.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York