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Mobile to outpace desktop local search by 2015: study

With consumers using their handsets as the main way to look up information while on the go, mobile local search is expected to exceed desktop search for local information in the next three years, according to a new forecast from BIA/Kelsey.

According to the BIA/Kelsey report, mobile search will generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search by 2016. Mobile search is quickly gaining traction because it affects consumers who are deeper in the purchase funnel.

?Marketers cannot afford to ignore mobile anymore,? said Michael Boland, senior analyst and program director for mobile local media at BIA/Kelsey, Chantilly, VA.

?In addition to growing in number, mobile local searches are qualitatively different than desktop local searches,? he said.

?Our data shows them in many cases to carry greater commercial intent, as measured by performance indicators like click-through rates.?

BIA/Kelsey uses consulting and valuation services to advise local media companies with research and conferences.

Local intent
Consumers who are using mobile search are most likely looking for instant information and may be more likely to make quick decisions, which has large implications for brands and marketers.

In 2011, desktop local search totaled 54.9 billion queries. To compare, mobile local search raked in 19.7 billion queries.

However, by 2013 mobile local searches are expected to bring in 46 million queries, pointing to the quick growth in mobile ownership. Desktop searches made with a local intent are expected to 69.2 million hits.

The gap between mobile and desktop local searches will close in 2015 when mobile search queries will total 85.9 billion with desktop accounting for 84 billion.

Mobile money
The BIA/Kelsey study also looked at the expected revenues from both mobile and desktop local search.

Between 2011 and 2016, mobile is expected to have a whopping 160.4 percent compound annual growth rate in local search revenue. Desktop local search revenue will have a 12.1 percent compound annual growth rate.

Although mobile local revenue will increase at a rapid rate, it still falls short compared to desktop local search revenue.

For example, in 2011 revenue from mobile local search generated $.4 billion. By the end of 2012, it is expected to reach $.7 billion and $1.1 billion in 2013. On the other hand, desktop local search accounted for $5.7 billion in 2011, is expected to make up $6.7 billion in 2012 and will generate $7.8 billion in 2013.

By 2016, mobile local search is expected to make $3.2 billion in revenue compared to desktop?s $10.2 billion.

For marketers, the study is proof that mobile will play a crucial part of local search and is an essential marketing piece to any search marketing strategy.

With mobile devices becoming more sophisticated, location-based marketing is starting to play an increased role in how consumers access information while on the go.

?Since local search is more of a direct-response medium, brands that are interested in driving locally relevant actions that capture the intent-driven nature of search have the most to gain here,? Mr. Boland said.

?That is, if they act accordingly and shift budget in ways that correlate to these trends,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York