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Google Search is top site as total mobile traffic grows to 105M uniques

June 3, 2011

Mobile's the hot spot

Google Search was the top destination among mobile sites, according to an April analysis of mobile behavior put together by market researcher Nielsen.

Facebook was the next most-visited mobile site, followed by Google’s Gmail email service, Yahoo Mail and the Weather Channel. The ranking is quite similar to traditional Web site traffic patterns – surely a fact that has not gone past advertisers.

“Mobile finally has a seat at the table, and at that table there are three trending topics on the mind of advertisers: local, social and mobile,” said Pete Chelala, mobile specialist at the Weather Channel, New York.

“The intersection of these three passion points is why we see an explosion when it comes to mobile usage,” he said.

Fair weather
Per Nielsen, Google Search attracted 55.3 million unique visitors in April, considerable higher than Facebook’s 42 million, Gmail’s 40.5 million, Yahoo mail’s 36.9 million and the Weather Channel’s 26.9 million.

Ranked by top five mobile content sites, the Weather Channel took top spot, followed by ESPN’s 16 million unique mobile visitors, Pandora and WeatherBug’s 12 million and CNN News’ 8.5 million.

The Weather Channel has been the No. 1 mobile content destination for six years running.

“The mobile space [growth], I believe, is a direct result of the commitment and competition of today’s mobile innovators,” Mr. Chelala said.

“Tech giants like Apple, Google, Microsoft and HP are putting top talent in the driver seat of their mobile efforts,” he said.

“That gives publishers like the Weather Channel a delivery mechanism that allows consumers to access weather data as easy as checking the time.”

Sixty percent of the Weather Channel’s audience visits the media company’s mobile platform at least once a day, generating more than 1 billion pageviews monthly.

“Those stats cement the fact that people are using their mobile devices in volume, and the more they use it, the more comfortable they are when it comes to navigating the mobile Web and the world of applications,” Mr. Chelala said.

“In other words, convenience is king,” he said.

Reach preach
Search, with 59 million unique visitors, also topped mobile reach by category. Weather followed at 47 million, social 43 million, news 39 million and entertainment at 37 million.

Spots 6 to 10 were taken by city guides and maps at 25 million, sports 24 million, banking and trading and movies and videos at 19 million each, and food and dining 15 million.

The travel category attracted 10 million unique mobile visitors in April, with health not too far behind at 8 million and auto at 5 million.

“My interesting finding as it pertains to marketers is that when you are looking to engage consumers in the mobile space, you need to lead with lifestyle rather than what’s endemic to your brand,” Mr. Chelala said.

“For example, the travel category’s total reach in the mobile space is 10 million unique per month and that’s just not enough scale if you’re a hotel looking to put heads in beds.

“Mobile is a very personal experience for consumers. It’s all about my weather, my news, my social community, with a strong focus on providing quality consumers instant access to enhance their day. With the right messaging, brands have a chance to be a part of making people’s day better.”

There is no doubt that mobile Web traffic is growing by leaps and bounds.

Millions served
According to Nielsen, the total mobile universe is up to 105 million unique users, a 41 percent year-over-year growth. Females lead over males with a 52 percent share.

The data show that the age 18-plus audience was estimated at 95 million unique mobile users, those over 21 at 91 million, 25-49 at 55 million and those over 55 years at 15 million.

Hispanic-origin mobile users were estimated at 20 million and African-American at 14 million.

While consumers are readily switching chores to mobile, what about advertisers? Are their ad spends in sync with mobile consumer usage?

“Acceptance is apparent with new roles being carved out for mobile specialists both at the client level and at the agencies,” Mr. Chelala said.

“Dedicated resources are tasked to better understand the mobile space and then take those learnings to help integrate mobile into the overall media mix.

“Devices like the iPhone and Android have made it easy for people to find a store, review products, rent a car and instantly share an experience. So it’s only natural for an advertiser to want to reach these consumers while they are in decision mode.”

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Mickey Alam Khan is editor in chief of Mobile Commerce Daily, Mobile Marketer and Luxury Daily. Reach him at

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