Google Smartphone Usage Study Is Unbelievable

Google smartphone survey
Does that include letting your four-year-old look at pictures on your iPhone to keep her from whining when you don’t buy her favourite cereal?

[credit provider=”Google”]

If you believe a Google-sponsored study about smartphone usage, smartphones are a marketer’s dream: we use our smartphones to find local businesses, get deals on products, and click on mobile ads.But as Broadsight’s Alan Patrick points out in a funny blog post, a lot of the statistics are useless, self-serving, or completely unbelievable.

To prove his point, Patrick substituted the word “dumbphone” for “smartphone.” The results made almost as much sense — 39% use their dumbphones while going to the bathroom, 72% of dumbphone users consume other media while on their dumbphones, and 93% of them use their dumbphones at home. 

When it gets closer to Google’s core business of search, Patrick also points out that a lot of the terms are meaningless or ill-defined — for instance, 88% of smartphone users who conduct local searches “take action” within a day.

But what does “take action” mean? Visit a business they found in the search? Call a business they found in the search? Make a later online purchase of a product they searched for on their phone? Any of the above?

As far as unbelievable goes, Patrick cites the factoid that “Half of those who see a mobile ad take action, with 35% visiting a website and 49% making a purchase.”

That statistic seems to be saying that mobile ads have a 35% clickthrough rate and 49% conversion rate.

That’s insanely high — even the most effective Web ad in the world doesn’t get those kinds of results.

At second glance, the survey might actually be saying that 35% of people surveyed have clicked on a mobile ad to visit a Web site AT LEAST ONCE IN THEIR LIFE. And 49% of people surveyed have made a purchase from a smartphone ad AT LEAST ONCE IN THEIR LIFE.

That’s much more believable. But it doesn’t say much about the effectiveness of smartphone advertising.

Google is holding a Webinar to discuss the results in more detail tomorrow.