Millennials Use Mobile First for Local Search

Mobile ad spending is rising fast. eMarketer projects the amount spent on mobile advertising in the US will total $14.9 billion in 2014, roughly half the amount spent on desktop ads. By 2016, mobile ad spending will top $28 billion, and spending on the big and small screens will be nearly equal. The primary drivers of mobile ad spending growth are unquestionably consumer adoption of smart devices and the subsequent surge in mobile media consumption. To better understand consumers’ usage of mobile devices for local search, we surveyed 1,058 smartphone consumers in January 2014 and released a report detailing the results. A few things we found were:

  • Mobile is the overwhelming channel for local search for Millennials. Two out of three Millennials (ages 18-29) prefer to use mobile devices first to search for local products or services.


1-1 Devices Commonly Used for Local Search

  • Younger generations rely the most on their mobile phones. Data from comScore showed that in November 2013, half of the time US consumers spent online each month was via smartphones and tablets. Moreover, within certain content categories—weather, social media, technology, games and radio among them—consumers spent more time on a monthly basis visiting sites using smartphones and tablets than they did so via traditional computers.1 While our survey didn’t focus on the time consumers spent on activities, we did look at the number of activities and by far younger consumers rely more on their devices. They are two times more likely to look for local business information on their mobile device versus older generations.


1-3 App Usage Index- Apps Used At Least Weekly



  • Life stages drive what consumers search for. Understanding generationally search patterns allows mobile advertising strategists to better target likely consumers with relevant content and advertising. For example, Gen Xers are in the prime consumption years and are most likely to be conducting searches for like home repair and lawn care services, while the more transient Millennials are less likely to search for these types of services. Millennials tend to search for local restaurants and entertainment type businesses (Figure 2).


2-1 Local Search Category Index- Searches in Past 30 Days


The report goes into more details on the ways Millennials are using technology to find local information, on-the-go, in the store and much more.  In addition to charts highlighted above, the report contains the following charts:


1-1 Devices Commonly Used for Local Search

1-2 Other Sources Used to Find Local Information

1-3 App Usage Index- Apps Used At Least Weekly

2-1 Local Search Category Index- Searches in Past 30 Days

3-1 Where consumers tend to be when looking for local information

3-2 Usage of smartphone while shopping in malls, grocery or retail stores

4-1 Why consumers use smartphones in stores

4-2 Consumer’s attitude about using a smartphone in stores

4-3 Top mobile apps used in-store to find local information

5-1 Consumers that have decided NOT to buy something in a store based on information they discovered

5-2 Why consumers decided not to buy something in a store after using their smartphone

6-1 Have you ever “checked-in” to a place or shared your location with others through your smartphone?

6-2 How often do you “check-in” or share location information on your smartphone

6-3 Motivation for “checking-in” or sharing your location

6-4 Circumstances that consumers would be willing to share their location with a brand, or local business


[important]The report is available to Thrive Analytic’s clients, and is also available for purchase ($299 for the report). More information about the report and how to purchase it is available HERE. [/important]


Source: 1 eMarketer, Key Digital Trends for 2014, December 2013.


Jason Peaslee

Jason Peaslee is the Managing Partner of Thrive Analytics, a marketing research and analytics consulting firm. His career spans more than 20 years in marketing, advertising, product development, research, and business management. Before founding Thrive Analytics in 2010, he held several senior leadership roles at AT&T, Reynolds & Reynolds, Berry Network, & The Berry Company.

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