According to a recent Google Mobile Ads Blog post, Olympics related searches on smartphones and tablets grew 10x during the first week of the event compared to the prior week. Viewers continue to multitask and gather information on their mobile devices for two main reasons – it’s convenient, and it’s pretty fast. It’s extremely easy to use your smartphone or tablet to conduct a simple search on your phone than on lugging around a laptop (first world problem, i know). Also, as many users are connected to wifi on their phones, the time it takes to get search results is very short. This combination makes a mobile device an extremely handy TV watching companion.
The graph below shows search volume for the keyword “Paul McCartney” during his performance of “Hey Jude” during the opening ceremonies. While search volume increased across all devices, it was most notable across tablets and mobile phones. Viewers turned to the convenience of smartphones over laptops and desktops. While this behavior isn’t really new, it does reinforce the importance of looking at the entire marketing mix, and the crucial interaction between mediums such as television and search.
This behavior also wasn’t just seen in the US and UK however, as countries across South America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa all demonstrated large mobile spikes for Olympics-related searches during the same timeframe. Another interesting tidbit shows that in many tourist island destinations, tablet share was almost equal to smartphone share. This points to the fact that many tourists were likely surfing their iPads while on vacation.
As mobile continues to mature as an information gathering channel, particularly with the increase in network speed, this behavior will only increase as the limitations of searches on mobile phones fade away.