Tablets ResearchMobile device users are purchasing goods and services online more than previously thought, AOL and the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) found. Analyzing over 500 billion online ad impressions and 100 million conversion events across mobile phones, desktop computers and tablets, the research partners found that mobile devices were used in 31% of conversions across the travel, retail, auto and telecom markets.

Looking at growth rates, AOL and U. Va. SEAS found that mobile’s cross-industry conversion rate increased 28% in the past year. The markets with the highest mobile conversion rates were telecom (purchasing of new plans and devices) at 37%, autos (finding a local dealer, requesting more information, configuring a car and travel) at 22%, and travel (booking a hotel, flight or car reservation) at 20%.

Americans are spending more and more time using mobile devices at home, one factor the researchers see underlying unexpectedly large and growing mobile conversion rates. Consumers are now spending 25% of their digital networking time at home on tablets or cell phones, they found.

Moreover, 75% of all mobile ad impressions were viewed from homes, a finding that “runs counter to the prevailing wisdom that we spend the vast majority of our time interacting with mobile devices while outside the home, such as waiting in line at a cafe,” according to a press release. The data suggests that the more time consumers spend using mobile devices at home, the more online purchases they make, AOL and U.Va. say.

Another factor underlying growth in mobile conversions is widespread adoption of the iPad, the researchers continued. Sixty-five percent of mobile conversions occurred via tablets, and 85% of those originated from iPads. Android and iOS devices each accounted for around half of smartphone conversions.

The research results indicate that advertisers, who have typically “focused their mobile efforts on branding or driving the purchase of mobile-centric offerings such as mobile game apps,” have an as yet “untapped opportunity to drive conversions for a much wider array of products and services via mobile.

“What we’re learning is that consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices in much the same way they do with their computers when they’re at home,” AOL Networks’ director of mobile Chad Gallagher was quoted in the press release. “And, with a quarter of all digital time spent on smartphones and tablets at home, marketers are realizing that they can’t afford to run desktop-only campaigns anymore.”

The research partners are continuing to analyze the data, moving on to focus on gaining a better understanding cross-device behavior. Their ultimate goal, according to Gallagher, is “understanding how behavior on one device effects conversion rates on a secondary device.”



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