smartphone marketingSmartphones have been getting lots of attention lately what with Google’s introduction of the Nexus One and all the ballyhooing going on over at CES this week. The world is seemingly poised for yet another “year of mobile” (I’m losing count, but it seems as if that scorecard is well into its second decade). So what are the opportunities? Where are the changes?

A new Questus study sponsored by AOL and Universal McCann takes the temperature of 1,800 smartphone users – because if any audience is not only receptive to, but equipped for mobile marketing messaging, it’s very obviously these technology early adopters.

The findings? Heartening, but hardly earthshaking. Herewidth, some of the findings:

  • 1 of every 7 minutes of media consumption is via a mobile device.
  • 80 percent of mobile users are satisfied with their ability to access the internet on their mobile device.
  • Smartphones are used everywhere: 95% – “downtime”; 82% – at work; 81% – shopping; 80% – at home; 65% – commuting to work.

But what are users doing on their smartphones? Mostly, and unsurprisingly, it’s quick-hit stuff: looking up maps and directions, social media, and getting news updates. Fifty-five percent say they seeking local listings (e.g. movies and restaurants), which appears to remain the low-hanging fruit of marketing opportunity to these users. But national franchises excepted, we’re unlikely to see a rush to mobile advertising from local mom ‘n’ pop businesses – the ones that barely manage to maintain an online presence at all.

Word-of-mouth marketing has much more potential. Seventy-four percent of users say they use social networking apps to share photos, news, videos and recomendations. Overall, most prefer emailing or texting to calling. And there’s plenty of what the study calls “media meshing,” or simultaneous use of mobile with other media, and a push-pull effect that drives users to mobile, the web, other media, and back again.

The younger you are the heavier your mobile usage. Particularly if you own an iPhone. The young and iPhone equipped spend roughly twice as much time on mcommerce, mobile social networking and concurrant mobile/tv usage than do older demos and/or the iPhone-less.

The survey, which is very obviously biased toward selling mobile advertising solutions, stakes a claim for mobile engagement: that mobile users are less likely to be distracted from the mobile channel than using most other media. Twenty-seven percent of mobile users report themselves “completely focused” versus 13, 17 and 19 percent respectively for TV, radio and reading the paper. But personal computers, interestingly, account for still more engagement with a 33% “completely focused” rate.

And over a third of respondants say they’ve taken action after seeing a mobile ad, be it seeking more information, opting-in to email or coupons, buying. But while 44 percent are buying things for their mobile in the mobile channel (think apps, ringtones), only 24 percent have conducted other types of mcommerce.

Couponing could help change this behavior. Seventy-four percent of smartphone users are very receptive to the idea of mobile coupons, as well as to mobile becoming an even deeper part of their lives. Mobile users expect their use of digital channels to increase over the next two years, while anticipating a drop in their use of traditional media channels.