Google: 79% of Smartphone Owners Use Phone to Assist Shopping

A new Google study, conducted by Ipsos/​OTX, has confirmed we are addicted to our smartphones and revealed how we use them to help make purchasing decisions, wrote John Paul Titlow of (April 28).

The data, which were laid out by Google in detail during a webinar yesterday (April 27), revealed a ton of information about how we use the devices in general,” he added. A couple takeaways were particularly interesting to businesses large and small: 1) smartphones help us buy things and 2) mobile ads work.”

They survey polled 5,013 U.S. adult smartphone users at the end of 2010.

I found the webinar slideshow online and took a closer look. Here’s what I found.

Some general findings relate to:

  • Frequency: 89% of respondents use their smartphone throughout the day
  • Location: 93% use it at home; 87% while on the go; 77% in a store; 73% in a restaurant and 72% at work.
  • Activity: 81% of smartphone activity is browsing the Internet; 77% is using a search engine; 68% is using an app and 48% is watching videos. Also, 90% of users have taken action as a result of a smartphone search.
  • Multitasking: 59% of respondents use their smartphones while waiting in line; 40% while socializing; 39% while in the bathroom; 27% while cooking.

How Smartphones Help Us Buy Things


  • The survey found that 79% of users rely on smartphones to help with shopping.
  • 70% use their phones while shopping in-store.
  • 74% of smartphone shoppers made a purchase as a result of using their smartphone.


  • 78% of smartphone shoppers looked up store information (e.g. store location, price comparisons and store inventory).
  • 69% looked up product information (e.g. product reviews, product features, scanned a barcode, watched a video).
  • 52% contacted a retailer directly using their smartphones.
  • 48% found and/​or used promotions/​discounts on their smartphones.

Multi-channel Purchasing:

  • 67% of smartphone shoppers research on smartphone and then buy in-store.
  • 23% research on smartphone, visit store to check out product and then purchase online.
  • 16% research on smartphone, visit store to check out product and then purchase on smartphone.
  • 9% visit store, then purchase on smartphone.
  • 27% have made a purchase via a mobile website; 22% via an app.

How Mobile Ads Work


  • 82% of smartphone users notice ads on their phone.
  • 45% of those users notice banner or graphical ads.
  • 43% notice ads featured on websites they visit.
  • 45% notice ads within apps they’re using.

Resulting Actions:

  • Upon noticing a mobile ad, 49% looked for more information.
  • 27% contacted the advertiser.
  • 33% located or visited the retailer.
  • 49% made a purchase.

A lot of this data is really interesting, particularly because it’s so new. Smartphones haven’t been around, let alone as widely used by the general population, for that long. But beyond the devices themselves, the software (i.e. search engines, interface and apps) are constantly changing and advancing rapidly. All of these factors make the data incredibly fluid -– it won’t stay this way for long.

In terms of m-commerce, the user experience is still very foreign: Only 27% of smartphone shoppers have made a purchase via a mobile website and fewer (22%) have bought anything using an app. This, too, will change over time.

Obviously, Google has a stake in the game (see Google to Monetize Mobile Search) and is motivated to promote the effectiveness and value mobile ads. I’m curious to know how much of the shopping and purchasing activity is actually due to the ads or to second-hand” exposure to desired products and services (via social media or simple mobile web browsing). To me, it seems difficult to separate it all. If you asked me what items I’d recently bought because either a) I found out about it on my smartphone or b) looked up information about it on smartphone, I’d probably just tell you, Everything.”

I guess I’m confirming one of the survey’s key findings: Whether or not I’m using it to shop, I’m one of the 89% of users who’s on their smartphone throughout the day.