Study: 47% of Mobile Autos Lookups Lead to Purchase

Recently xAd and Telmetrics released more data from their UK "Mobile Path to Purchase" study conducted by Nielsen. This time the focus was on consumer behavior in the automotive vertical (car purchases and servicing). The big takeaway, once again, is how mobile devices now play a critical role in the pre-purchase research process.

The UK study is something of a mirror of the earlier US version, with some differences.

Perhaps the most important finding, the UK study discovered that 30% of UK automotive researchers used mobile devices exclusively. Tablet owners were more likely to be at home when conducting research vs. smartphone users (82% vs. 41%). In addition to price comparisons (popular with with both smartphone and tablet owners), smartphone owners are more often seeking location and contact information for dealers and service locations whereas tablet owners were doing more review checking.

In order of popularity and volume here's what UK auto mobile users are looking for or researching:

  • New or used car purchases (72%)
  • Car servicing (28%)
  • Car parts (19%)

The following are some additional data and details from this slice of the UK study: 

  • UK mobile auto searchers are more price sensitive than US automotive buyers -- 53% of UK auto searchers conduct price comparisons vs. 43% in the US
  • 47% of smartphone lookups ultimately lead to a purchase; 41% of tablet searches 
  • The mobile web has greater reach with UK auto searchers; however "nearly half of smartphone searchers and 29% of tablet searchers have used an auto app"
  • 60% of UK automotive searchers plan to purchase within a month or longer. However 32% plan to purchase within a 24 hour period (the latter is probably service or parts related)

Location was a critical factor for mobile users: 40% sought or expected business locations within 5 miles. Finally only 30% of these automotive researchers knew specifically what they were looking for. Thus there's a significant opportunity for marketers to influence these consumers' purchases though mobile marketing and advertising.

What Is Indoor Location Really Worth?

There are a number of analyst firms in the market that seem to exist to generate forecasts, many (or most) of which turn out to be inaccurate. In that context I'm quite skeptical about ABI's latest forecast regarding indoor location. The firm says the market is going to be worth $4 billion by 2018.

While it's almost certain that over time indoor location will be worth billions, it's too early to say with any precision or accuracy how much the indoor location market will be worth. Ironically ABI's numbers are probably too small (the firm is usually the source of inflated forecasts). As the market evolves there will be a number of revenue streams and indoor location will touch a wide array of of consumer purchases. 

First, there's licensing revenue generated by retailers and venue owners to indoor location vendors. There's also IT-related spending for "infrastructure upgrades" to support indoor location. That includes WiFi, bluetooth low energy and a range other approaches. There's no technology standard and unlikely to be one for some time. These numbers are quite small right now, unless we consider historical spending on WiFi as part of all this. 

Then there are a range of in-store marketing angles: in-store couponing, mobile advertising, apps, digital kiosks that interact with smartphones and so on. Though inevitable indoor marketing is generally speculative at the moment. Over time it will be worth several billion dollars. Currently brands spend billions to secure favorable positioning in stores and market to consumers at or near the point of sale. Some of that will inevitably shift to digital, indoor marketing. The question is how much?

Then there's the value of digital influence over offline purchases. A majority of US smartphone owners (and increasingly European smartphone owners) use their devices in stores to help make purchase decisions. There's a direct impact on purchases (deciding to buy or not buy) from this indoor smartphone research or "showrooming." 

I've estimated in the past that the Internet's influence over offline shopping is approaching $2 trillion. Using this type of lens, smartphone "showrooming" is impacting (positively and negatively) offline buying probably to the tune of billions already. Should this be part of an indoor location forecast? Not necessarily but it should be included in the discussion to show how much is at stake for retailers and others in the ecosystem. 

ABI is directionally correct that the market is worth billions -- it's already there if you consider smartphone influence over offline transactions -- but precisely how much and where the money will come from is still to speculative to predict reliably. 

Offering PayPal Provides Modest Conversion Lift to E-Commerce

Digital marketing platform Monetate recently tested whether a site offering the option to buy through PayPal saw any conversion lift vs. not offering PayPal. Using A/B testing and data from a single client the company said there was a modest roughly 1% sales lift by offering PayPal: 

Adding this simple reassurance to product detail pages not only lifted average order value by 1.03%, but it also reduced cart abandonment by 1.21%. Not a huge lift, but not shabby either . . .

We recently asked 1,250 US adults which entities they trusted most to handle mobile payments. The following was the order of results:

  1. My credit card company
  2. PayPal (eBay)
  3. Amazon
  4. Google
  5. Apple
  6. Other (included "my bank") 

Square and Facebook were not on the list of choices. However Facebook is testing its own mobile payments service with some consumers and retailers (stored credit card and details).  

As the survey data above indicate PayPal is in a very strong position to become the dominant mobile payments company (especially after its Braintree acquisition) if it can establish and reinforce its brand and user experience as being the simplest and most secure. 

Apple could quickly enter the mobile payments arena; however so far it has held back. And while Amazon has a presence in mobile payments it's not particularly strong or developed.

Google, for its part, has failed to establish Wallet among consumers. Square is in a decent position but it doesn't have the reach that PayPal currently has. Facebook has massive reach but is not going to be trusted with payments by most consumers without a Herculean education and marketing effort. 

So currently it's PayPal's market to lose really, as mobile payments take hold.  

Report: 103 Million People in US Have Tablets or eReaders

One still gets the sense that there are marketers who treat the rise of mobile devices as something of a novelty. The idea that mobile devices have supplanted PCs in many use cases hasn't quite sunk in for many.

There are nearly 150 million smartphones in the US today, with many of them being used as primary internet devices. Now, according to Pew Research Center data released this morning, there are nearly 103 million people in the US (over 16) who who tablets or e-readers. Eventually tablets will replace e-readers for most. 

A survey of more than 6,000 people in the US (over 16) conducted between July and September found that 35% of Americans own tablets and 24% own e-book readers. Combined, a total of 43% of Americans own one or the other or both. After Q4 the tablet number will be at or above 40%. 

Tablets and ereaders

Source: Pew Research Center 

Here's the breakdown in terms of real population numbers by category -- if the Pew data are reliable: 

  • Tablet owners: 84 million
  • E-Reader owners: 57.6 million

Apple is scheduled to announce new iPad models next Tuesday at an event in San Francisco. While Android tablet shipments (and presumably sales) have been growing the great majority of tablet traffic in North American is still from the iPad.  

Ad network Chitika reported in late June that the iPad was responsible for 84% of all tablet traffic in North America. The company is currently updating its numbers and will release new data next week. 

However this is what the tablet landscape looks like (until further notice) in terms of actual tablet-based traffic to websites:  

June iPad traffic

Source: Chitika 

GOOG: 40% of YouTube Traffic Now from Mobile

Yesterday afternoon Google reported third quarter earnings. The company beat financial analyst consensus estimates. Total "consolidated revenues" (including Motorola) were $14.89 billion, representing 12% growth vs. the third quarter in 2012. 

US-based revenue was 45% of the total compared with 55% from outside the US.

Paid clicks grew 26% across Google sites and its extended network. However average prices paid for those clicks decreased 8% vs. last year. This is likely due to an ongoing shift to mobile usage (more clicks coming from mobile, with lower prices paid for them). Indeed, earlier this week comScore reported that US search volumes were down (again likely because of mobile): 

 search volumes

Despite the release of its elegant and innovative Moto X phone, Motorola Mobility's loses increased. The unit saw Q3 revenues of $1.18 billion (vs. $1.78 billion last year). And there was a loss of $248 million (vs. $192 million in 2012). 

On the earnings call, Google CEO Larry Page said that "Almost 40% of Youtube’s traffic now comes from mobile, up from 6% two years ago." It was also mentioned that there are "more than 40 million calls driven by Google ads every month." That's roughly 2X vs. 2012. Many of them are coming from smartphones.

Report: 33% of Google's Paid-Search CTRs Now Coming from Mobile

Paid search marketing firm The Search Agency released its Q3 "State of Paid Search Report" for the US market. The report is based on a large volume of client data and discusses paid search trends by search engine and several industry segments. The headline is that a third of Google's paid search clicks in the US are now coming from smartphones and tablets. 

The following are some of top-level data released in the report:

  • Google average CPC was up across all 3 device types, with the largest growth occurring in tablets, which grew 14.2% YoY.
  • Google’s distribution of clicks continued to shift away from desktops toward smartphones and tablets, which now make up more than 1/3 of the search engine’s clicks in Q3.
  • While clicks on desktops were flat YoY, search clicks on tablets increased 63.4% and clicks on smartphones more than doubled.

The following charts show the percentage of paid-search clicks by device category.

In the aggregate, Google saw 33% of paid clicks in Q3 coming from smartphones and tablets, with the greatest growth coming from tablets. Bing saw about 18% from mobile devices, since it has a much smaller and less visible mobile presence.  

Is Video the Killer Mobile Advertising Format?

Putting aside search marketing, the overwhelming majority of mobile ad creative leaves much to be desired. However video may turn out to be the "killer" mobile ad solution in many instances. That's according to new data from video marketing provider Unruly.

Based on a review of several thousand client campaigns Unruly found that mobile video outperformed video ads on PCs:

  • Average CTR for mobile campaigns (13.64%) is almost three times that of desktop (5.45%)
  • In the last two quarters, CTRs on mobile were more than 2X for desktop (11.18% vs 4.25%)
  • Month-on-month mobile replay rates fluctuated throughout 2013, but year-to-date figures have still been one-and-a-half times higher than desktop rates

There are clearly issues with relying primarily on mobile video as a mobile ad format. Network speeds may be slow, videos many not load and playback may be disrupted. In addition, those with more limited data plans may be inclined to avoid video on mobile devices. 

All Media Video View Rate Adobe 2012

Generally however mobile video consumption is growing. A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 41% of respondents watched video on mobile phones. Indeed, consumers are increasingly watching video on smartphones and especially tablets.

Mobile (smartphone + tablet) "video starts" constitute roughly 10 percent of digital "video starts" according to Adobe. The Adobe data in the chart above reflect video viewing rates in Q4 2012. Mobile video ads also offer unique social sharing opportunities and are generally effective (or potentially effective) brand advertising vehicles. 

There are plenty of data that reinforce the growth of mobile video viewing. Of course video advertising is arguably best suited for video content. But video could be incorporated into display ads of all types. I don't favor "involuntary" video that starts to play once a site loads, as sometimes happens on PC sites. That would be too annoying and have a negative impact on consumer attitudes and receptiveness. 

However considerably more information can be communicated through video than the tiny text in most display ads. Video, rich media and landing pages can all be used together to create ads that showcase brand messages as well as direct response elements (e.g., maps and directions, click to call, etc.). Mobile video ads can also generate higher CPMs for publishers.

Ultimately mobile ad formats that include video are going to be much more successful from a creative and messaging standpoint than most current mobile display ads, even most rich media ads in apps.  

Google to Build Opt-In Mobile Panel for (Offline) Analytics

According to a report (rumor) in Engadget, Google is preparing to build an incentive-based mobile panel to track browsing and app usage behavior. The initiative is called "mobile meter" according to the blog and it would be directed toward iPhone and Android users. 

Google would offer some incentive (points, rewards, etc) to motivate users to opt-in and allow their usage to be anonymously tracked. This would be nearly identical to the system currently used by Nielsen. 

In addition Placed uses a panel to track mobile and exposures and their impact on store visits. The Placed app (with opt-in consent) watches where users go in the real world and extrapolates their data to estimate the offline impact of mobile campaigns. 

Google recently announced Estimated Total Conversions that will track the impact of search ads across devices and, eventually, into stores. The primary methodology relies on signed-in Chrome browser users. 

A Google mobile panel would complement that approach and, like Placed's panel, provide data to advertisers -- offering a more holistic view of their campaigns, especially the impact on offline store visits.  

PC Market Continues to Limp Along

The third quarter US PC shipments figures have been coming out. While there was a mild recovery for some of the PC makers, the numbers overall remain very weak.

Both IDC and Gartner see PC shipments off from 7.6% to 8.6% overall vs. last year. In addition shipments don't equal sales. Consequently the actual sales figures may be weaker than suggested by the shipments numbers. 

The market has structurally changed. Smartphone and tablet usage has replaced PC usage in many cases. Smartphone and tablet growth will continue to gain for the next 3 - 5 years, generally at the expense of PCs. We're also not likely to ever see high-end ($1,000+) PC sales at any volume in the consumer market again.

 

While Apple has been able to maintain higher desktop and laptop prices, most PCs now sell at sub-$500 levels (they're effectively disposable). And once consumers make that leap psychologically they'll want to spend even less (hello Chromebooks).

There's also less and less urgency to replace or upgrade older PCs. Consumer indifference to Windows 8 also compounds challenges for the PC industry.

The "aha" about the Q3 Gartner and IDC PC shipments estimates above and below are that the back-to-school shopping season did almost nothing to boost sales. HP, Lenovo and Dell saw modest growth while other PC makers saw significant double-digit declines. 

 

Meanwhile tablet (and hybrid phone-tablet) devices continue to grow. Roughly 34% of the adult US population now own tablet devices according to earlier 2013 Pew survey data. Those numbers are likely to be above 40% and perhaps as high as 45% after Q4 2013. 

Pew tablet ownership 

The thing separating the PC from more precipitous declines is arguably Microsoft Office. If a functioning version of Office comes to non-MSFT tablets or if the cloud based version of Office is more widely adopted, PCs will be even less "necessary" for consumers than they are today.  

Is a Google Smartwatch Imminent?

In the frenzy of speculation leading up to Apple's iPhone announcement last month, there was lots of discussion of smartwatches. Apple supposedly was developing an "iWatch" and would be announcing it along with the new handsets. Samsung, wanting to beat Apple to market, rushed out its Galaxy Gear watch, which has met with scathing reviews as an "unfinished product." 

Google was also rumored to be working on a smartwatch. The 9to5 Google site has some additional information on the potential release of a Google smartwatch at the end of this month: "Details are slim but the person seemed to think that Google Now functionality would be at the center of the product."

The idea is that Google would take its technology and learning (thus far) from Google Glass and put that in a watch. The emphasis on Google Now is interesting and appropriate -- the watch as a kind of notifications center. Samsung tried to cram too much half-baked functionality into Galaxy Gear.

There's considerable consumer interest in smartwatches (much more than Google Glass). Just over 40% of survey respondents in a recent survey we conducted (n=1,024 US smartphone owners) said they were interested in a smartwatch. Not surprisingly respondents were most interested in smartwatches that were made by the same maker as their current smartphones.

The right mix of features and pricing are key here. Undoubtedly Apple will develop an "iWatch." And Google, as the rumor suggests, will probably roll out a watch itself, given its new commitment to "wearables." But these initial products may not get the mix right: simplicity, aesthetics, functionality and cost.  

The optimal price is probably $99 to $199. But $299 would be OK if the watch were a great product. At $299 and above, the Galaxy Gear is simply to flawed and too expensive for what it delivers. Now we'll see what Google can come up with.