There is a continuing shift towards mobile usage among US consumers. Now could well be the time for local businesses to re-assess how they allocate their spending on entries in online directories.

Mobile online directories: an opportunity for local businesses to seize

A recently-published report* drawn up by comScore on behalf of the Local Search Association reveals that traffic to online directories and other local resources from non-PC devices in the United States more than quadrupled in 2012, grabbing a 27% share of total web traffic in December 2012, up from just a 6% share in December 2011. In addition some 48% of US mobile phone owners used their device to access local information during December 2012, compared with 42% in the same month a year earlier. The study points to the increasing role of smartphones and tablets in consumers’ local research. Moreover, 37% of all US smartphone owners also possessed at least one other connected device at the end of 2012, 29% saying they owned a tablet, 10% an e-Reader, and 4% another handheld such as a portable gaming device. The growing range of equipment out there provides consumers with additional ways to access the Internet and go in search of online information.

The mighty mobile app

A study carried out by InMobi, the global mobile advertising platform developer, on which l'Atelier reported in March, had already indicated that local advertising on mobile would be more attractive to consumers than on PCs. Mobile apps, such as the Yellow Pages, attract new customers who are likely to be interested in local firms. The Local Search Association report found that more than half (53%) of all Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) app users are aged 25-44, and that IYP app users are 51% more likely to have an income greater than $100,000 per year than the average mobile phone user. Some 41% of IYP users make at least one on-phone purchase per month, versus 19% of all smartphone owners, and 10% of IYP app users spend a monthly average of more than $500 on on-phone purchases. These consumers therefore represent an attractive target group for local firms looking to run advertising on mobile platforms.

Mobile browsers have a role too

While a growing number of smartphone owners -up 22% in December 2012 on December 2011- are making use of apps to visit local content such as business directories, classified ads, maps and movie information, browsers should nevertheless not be neglected. “While consumers are showing a preference for apps over browsers, offerings on both platforms deserve attention and investment,” underlined Neg Norton, the President of the Local Search Association. The report shows that the rapid rise of connected devices is drastically changing how consumers access the Internet. In 2012, growth in the number of PC users accessing the Internet flatlined for the first time ever. By contrast, the share of web traffic from non-PC devices, including smartphones and tablets, more than doubled to 15% in December 2012, from 7% in the same month of the previous year.