Study: Facebook App Used More than Mapquest, Bing for Local Search

Google Maps on iOSLast week comScore, Neustar/Localeze and 15 Miles released their 6th local search study. It’s a mix of behavioral and survey based findings. There’s a great deal of information contained in the report, some of it relatively nuanced.

I’ll focus in on a few findings rather than try to summarize the whole study. Others wrote it up when it was released last week. Here are a few high-level data points from the study:

Search on mobile devices grew, while search on PCs declined: “PC/laptop searches decreased over the past year, as has the number of local searches. Total U.S. searches on the PC dropped 6% year- over-year from 29.5 billion to 27.8 billion in December 2012. Over that same time period, local searches on the PC declined 17% and non-local searches declined 5%.”

Local search frequency on tablets declined YoY: “While the frequency of local business searches on mobile phones remains constant, those with tablets use the device for local search less frequently than last year. Local search use dropped from 64% to 48% in 2012. In addition, PC/Laptops are primarily used in the beginning stages of a local business search. In comparison, mobile phones and tablets are more likely to be used in the middle or at the end of the process.”

Mobile searchers closer to purchase: “Local business searchers who used a mobile phone or tablet were more likely to make a purchase as a result of their search. While only 59% of PC searches resulted in a purchase, 78% of mobile phone searches and 77% of tablet searches resulted in a purchase. Tablet searchers also skew toward more expensive purchases.”

App usage for local-mobile search: Last year the study found 49% of smartphone and tablet owners used apps to find local information. This year there was no comparable number provided — though (per Nielsen) roughly 80% of mobile time spent is with apps (vs. the browser). Google Maps is the dominant app used for local-mobile search. That’s consistent with last year’s findings as well.

local search mobile apps

In the chart above, take a look at Facebook. It’s in the number two position, ahead of Bing and Apple Maps. That’s pretty amazing. The data aren’t segmented by operating system however. It would be interesting to see them compared by mobile OS. I suspect the Apple Maps numbers would be higher if we looked only at iOS users.

The number of people searching on social networks for local business information declined in 2012 vs. 2011 says comScore. However it’s still fairly significant. According to the study, 13% of users actively looked for local business information on social networks (mostly Facebook), while another 26% had “passive” exposure to local businesses on social networks (via Likes and other push info).

Facebook used for local search

Here’s the specific breakdown of specific social sites used for local business lookups:

Facebook local search

What these data indicate is that Facebook is pretty well positioned and has a significant local opportunity with Nearby and Graph Search. The activity reflected above is also happening mostly without awareness and usage of those offerings.

Let me know what you think of these data and whether you think Facebook could become a serious rival to Google in local.

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2 Responses to “Study: Facebook App Used More than Mapquest, Bing for Local Search”

  1. Dan Leibson says at

    These are some very interesting numbers. I wish Facebook would embrace mobile/local and capitalize on all of this rather than treating it as an afterthought. Although if they announce a phone maybe that will all change.

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    I’ll be asking Dan Levy those questions directly at the upcoming Local Search Assn event in Las Vegas in two weeks: http://www.localsearchassociation.org/Main/Agenda2013.aspx

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