Double Digit Growth of Local Mobile Usage, but what are the Traditional players doing about it?

Published 29th July

Study Shows Double Digit Growth of Local Mobile Usage, Unlocking Access to Younger, Wealthier, On-the-Go Consumers

“A US report published today by Comscore and the Yellow Pages association has shown that Consumers looking for local businesses are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to access Internet Yellow Pages and local sites, while similar local searches performed on personal computers grew at a steady but slower pace.

The number of mobile subscribers accessing business directories on a mobile phone increased 14 percent year-over-year to 17.3 million users in March 2010, extending the reach of Internet Yellow Pages beyond just the personal computer. This increase outpaced 10 percent growth in the number of mobile media users who browsed the mobile web, used applications or downloaded content during the same time period.

“Mobile offers significant opportunity, both for consumers who need convenient and reliable sources of local information on-the-go, and also for local search providers that are making this content available in new and innovative ways,” said Neg Norton, president, YPA. “Yellow Pages and other local sites that have a legacy for providing trusted local business information via print directories and Web search tools are best poised to take advantage of this phenomenally versatile and interactive media. Mobile allows them to extend Internet Yellow Pages to consumers wherever they are.””

The greatest challenge for many traditional media organisations is that they simply do not understand how they can open the mobile channel and get it to start paying dividends. Although they are the best placed to commercialise and win big, many are simply not developing the foundation required to succeed – most seem like rabbits caught in a cars headlights, bamboozled by technology and swayed by the seeming ‘cool’ factor. For many knee jerk tactical development has usurped strategy – this will cost dear in the long term (a grave mistake as they have discovered in the fixed online environment) unless they start taking steps to rectify now. Mobile does not have to be the same as the fixed online environment.

Not surprising is the next part of the study – Mobile browsers are the most common method to access services, what is more surpising is the massively dispropotionate expenditure being directed towards the development of applications. WHY? Again I can only suggest a knee jerk reaction (see iSyndrome – why limit your slice ofthe pie?). Organisations need to be thinking about adopting a balanced approach, one that will enable them to capture users and importantly retain them in the long term. The highly fragmented approaches that many have adopted this is going to be very challenging to do in a cost effective way.    

“Apps and Mobile Browsers Clock in Growth

Mobile browser was the most common access method for users, with 10.8 million subscribers in March 2010 and 21 percent year-over-year growth. But even as the browser remained the most used mobile feature for access, apps grew at a more rapid pace with 42 percent year-over-year growth, totaling 4.1 million subscribers in March 2010.”


“Mobile Users Are Desirable Consumers

The comScore study finds that mobile media attracts a highly desirable consumer segment for advertisers. Mobile usage of business directories unlocks a younger, wealthier user base to advertisers. According to the report:

  • 58 percent are 34 or younger.
  • Over half have a household income in excess of $75,000.
  • The number of people accessing business directories on a mobile device at least once per week increased more than 16 percent year-over-year to nearly five million in March 2010.

Mobile users also access content that is attractive for many advertisers. Mobile users who access business directories are three and half times more likely as the average mobile media user to access women’s magazine content, health information, real estate listings, and job listings via their mobile devices.


Local Search on Personal Computers

As local mobile grew double digits, local searches on personal computers saw single digit growth year-over-year. Searches on Internet Yellow Pages and portal sites increased 4 percent to 444 million in March 2010, or 5.3 billion annually. The overall universe of core web search — where users search for any kind of information on a major Internet search portal like Google or Bing — increased 8 percent to 15.4 billion searches in March 2010, or 187.3 billion annually.

Diving deeper into personal computer usage, people access Internet Yellow Pages and local online sites in a number of ways. Some visit Internet Yellow Pages sites directly by typing in the URL or with a bookmark, while others access Internet Yellow Pages through feed from other sites such as Google and Yahoo. Traffic to Internet Yellow Pages from these web search sites increased three points from the first quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2010, to 44 percent of visits. Direct traffic also increased over the same time period, up four points to 32 percent, while referrals from affiliate sites (advertisements, e-mail marketing, and other partner sites) decreased six points to 25 percent.

“What’s incredible about the growth in local search is that, even during a time of recession when many consumers reined in spending, the need to find a local business certainly didn’t go away,” said Norton. “Whether it is on a personal computer or a mobile device, consumers have more media choices than ever to find a product or service when they are ready to buy. Advertisers should be considering a multiplatform approach that combines a print, online, and mobile strategy designed with their target consumer in mind.””

The oportunity is clearly there – literally staring Traditional media owners in the face – the reality is that many will simply not capitalise as they do not understand or see that mobile is very different to what has gone before. They need to get experienced players in that can help them lay down the strategic foundation and cut through the tactical distractions.

At Indigo 102 we specialising in bringing out the realities – communicate the benefits and risks – at the early stages. We work with organisations to build mobile strategies that deliver value over time and develop services that are sustainable. If we can support you to invest wisely and establish a sustainable mobile platform get in touch (


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