Just about everyone in the marketing and technology fields has accepted that mobile and more specifically, the mobile internet, are really, really important. That’s true today, and it’s only going to be more so in the future.

But many believe that mobile is more than just really, really important; they believe it will be far and away the most important channel as more and more consumers become armed with smartphones.

According to a study conducted by market research firm Ipsos OTX on behalf of Google, that belief has some supporting evidence.

The study, conducted at the end of 2010, polled more than 5,000
smartphone owners about their mobile internet habits. The results:

  • 81% of smartphone owners browse the internet.
  • 77% use search and 90% of searches conducted result in some action being taken.
  • 95% of smartphone owners have sought local
    information online.
  • 79% use their smartphones to assist with the shopping process, and 70% use the phone while in the store.
  • 71% of smartphone owners “search on their phones because of an ad exposure“.

If the numbers are to be believed, the smartphone is, for obvious
reasons, akin to the holy grail for marketers and retailers. After all,
what other channel or device is driving these kinds of numbers?

There’s
good reason for the smartphone’s potency in everything from search
marketing to retail: sophisticated mobile phones are utilitarian devices
capable of delivering instant gratification when consumers want and
need it most. That translates into intent.

When somebody searches for “new computers
on Google, it’s reasonable to assume that he or she is potentially
interested in buying a new computer at some point in the not too distant
future. This intent explains why advertisers shell out billions of
dollars a year on Google AdWords ads. But mobile users often deliver
even greater intent.

When a consumer searches for “HP desktop prices
from his or her smartphone, there’s a good chance that she’s either in a
store looking to make sure that there isn’t a better deal online before
she completes an offline purchase or that she’s gone to the store to
make a decision on a model and is ready to buy online.

Obviously,
not all smartphone-based mobile internet excursions or searches are
created equal, but the nature of the device means that, for many
markets, activity is going to be backed up by intent that’s stronger than can typically be expected in other channels.

Even if one
questions whether, say, 90% of mobile searches really result in a meaningful
action being taken, logic dictates that a relatively high figure is to be expected.

For companies, the imperative is clear: if you’re not looking at
the ways you can deliver content and information effectively over
mobile, you’ll increasingly lose out.