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Desktop search falls while mobile search booms: study

Fifteen percent fewer desktop and laptop users in Britain accessed Web sites through search in the past year, while at the same time mobile search engine traffic has seen a 247 percent increase, according to Tamar research.

Tamar?s research also reveals a big increase in users who accessed Web sites directly via mobile?this figure more than doubled from 2009 to 2010. While the overall mobile base usage is small, at 3 percent of total traffic, the data shows how rapidly the balance between mobile and PCs is shifting.

Mobile Marketer?s Dan Butcher interviewed Tanya Goodin, CEO of Tamar, London. Here is what she had to say:

What is the key finding of the study?
Mobile Web usage is rising dramatically in Britain and it looks unstoppable.

Our ?Mobile 2010? study found that fewer people in Britain were using their desktop PCs to find information online through search-engine queries.

Tamar?s data from 2009-2010 showed a year-on-year drop of 15 percent in this activity.

At the same time, there was a rise of 247 percent in the number of people using the mobile Web to link through to Web sites via the search engines.

Tamar?s research also reveals that the percentage of users using the mobile Web to connect directly to sites had doubled over the same period.

What is the most surprising finding, and why?

Tamar?s mobile and social media teams were surprised by the drop in desktop search and amazed by the near 250 percent increase in mobile Web usage.

We are aware of the low overall base, but the trajectory is pretty astonishing, despite serious challenges to uptake that include, for example:

? Far too many ?heavy data? Web sites without mobile versions or not optimized for mobile

? Lack of true mobile broadband on 3G networks, which reduces speed of access to a crawl, much like Web 1.0 in 1995, with 14.4K modem access

? Often a poor online experience when access is achieved, with usability issues

? Lack of ?full circle? retail experience on mobile?it?s difficult or impossible to buy online

? Essential information lost to mobile users as it is contained in video, creating display and format problems

What is driving growth in mobile search?
The iPhone is a primary driver, as nearly all mobile Web access in Britain on this smartphone is via search.

The Android handsets are making inroads and these smartphones are also now triggering new online behaviors among users.

Growth is also driven by expansion of Wi-Fi broadband access?hotspots, hotels, cafes, libraries, and education institutions?in major cities and superfast broadband in the home, which is fuelling acceptance and habitual use of mobile handsets to find information.

On fast broadband, users are accessing information in a context of social networks like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook on mobile, which is fuelling longer-stay use among younger users, particularly.

Google itself is driving mobile search.

Google UK and Ireland CEO Matt Brittin said that the company designs everything first for mobile, and then other platforms.

His view is, "If you think the Internet revolution is big, the mobile revolution is going to be bigger, much more widespread and faster.?

What advice can you give to brands/retailers/marketers based on your findings?
I advise brands, retailers and marketers to fully embrace mobile. The Tamar study is a wake-up call for all companies and the next year will see a shake-out for brands who are slow to respond.

All brands will have to work with expert partners on the redevelopment of their online assets to ensure mobile users have the best experience.

Equally important is the re-focus on mobile applications, which deliver solutions to nearly all of the challenges presented by mobile online access.

Both mobile applications and the mobile Web are valid in the current market as a means to engage, convince and convert consumers.

The marketing benefits of applications are that they offer a rich user experience, login and personal details can be stored.

A well-designed interface means users will have a positive experience, and it?s easy to buy goods and services. Applications can also integrate with other services on the handset.

The only drawback with an application is that users have to download it before any purchase can be made.

This is where mobile Web has an advantage. This advantage can only be maximised if the site has a well-designed mobile version.

From here on, it?s about being agile, flexible and adaptive to rapid changes.

Brands need to be re-engaging at the tactical search marketing level to ensure that all their online assets are optimized for the new real-time streaming search environment.

In the next six months, brands will also need to revisit their search strategies to plan and implement the agile and responsive engagement with their consumers that addresses not only the continual evolution of the search engines, but also the migration of users to mobile search.

It is significant that mobile search is on the rise, led by the younger consumers.

This is a huge area of growth for the search engines and one where they will be fighting for dominance against the likes of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Final Take