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Google Survey's In The Toilet

Google Survey's In The Toilet

April 27, 2011
39% of people use their smartphones on the john. This data and more has been made public by a new Google-commissioned survey from Ispos OTX in the form of a 3-minute video making the rounds today. The late-2010 study is titled "The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Consumers" and seeks to shed light on how smartphone use affects users' daily activities. It's a fun look at some general numbers, sure, but the data lacks focused clarity and general reliability. We're told it's based on input from "5,013 US adult internet users," but are given no information on specific location, sex, or even age of the participants. Furthermore, the statistics seem derived from some manner of Q-and-A rather than any implementation of behavioral system tracking. For a quick rundown, here are some of the figures for user/smartphone interaction:
  • 81% browse the internet
  • 77% search
  • 68% use an app
  • 48% watch videos
  • 95% have looked for local information (88% "tak[ing] action within a day")
  • 77% have contacted a business (61% calling, 59% visiting the physical location)
  • 79% use their handsets to help with shopping (74% making a purchase, 70% using the phone in-store)
However, the real purpose of this whole affair is gleaned from the last set of stats:
Reaching Mobile Consumers: Cross-media exposure influences smartphone user behavior and a majority notice mobile ads which leads to taking action on it. 71% search on their phones because of an ad exposure, whether from traditional media (68%) to online ads (18%) to mobile ads (27%) 82% notice mobile ads, especially mobile display ads and a third notice mobile search ads Half of those who see a mobile ad take action, with 35% visiting a website and 49% making a purchase
Essentially, this -- along with the video's last 45 seconds or so -- answers the question of who this survey is intended for: clients interested in making the jump to mobile advertising. By stating that "79% of top advertisers don't have a mobile-optimized website," Google's hoping to convince people that the above statistic for mobile ad-based follow-through (a meager 27%) can be hugely improved-upon. That means more advertisers, and that means more money for Google. Certainly, I don't take issue with the motivation of the survey or video, but the whole thing is pretty bonkers. For example, saying that "Nine out of ten smartphone searches results in an action (purchasing, visiting a business, etc.)" is disingenuous and statistically useless. What constitutes an "action"? Is visiting the site you searched for an "action"? Also, 70% of people are said to use their smartphones in-store, but we're not told if fielding an actual call counts. The survey seems structured to be less about providing real data and more about forcing executives' hands in the boardroom. Even that use-the-phone-in-the-bathroom stat has got to be off. In fact, I'd venture it's a straight 50-50 split, if not higher; I've never met a guy who doesn't, and only a very few ladies who do. For example: The whole thing reminds me of Dilbert. Which, incidentally, I'm watching on Netflix right now.

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