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Report: More than half of mobile users convert

A new report from mobile advertising network provider InMobi found mobile users are shifting their media consumption and their purchase research and decision-making to mobile devices.

The Q2 2012 study, based on survey data of more than 1,000 U.S. mobile users, found that 59% of users made mobile commerce transactions during a six-month period, compared to just 38% six months before.

“I’m struck at just how rapidly consumers are becoming comfortable making direct purchases on mobile devices,” says Anne Frisbie, the company’s North American VP and managing director. “Think back to the late ’90s—it took forever to get the majority of consumers comfortable buying on the Internet. In six months we saw more than a 40% change.”

While 46% of purchases were in relatively low-cost digital goods such as apps and music, more than a quarter of all users indicated willingness to buy products over $50 through mobile channels. InMobi chose that benchmark value because there are very few digital content purchases actually that expensive, signaling that consumers are increasingly willing to make pricey acquisitions of real-world goods through handheld devices.

The study also took a careful look at mobile activity trends. Usage noticeably peaks during the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. evening commute hours, with nearly 25% of all mobile interactions taking place during that timeframe. The trough comes at roughly 2 p.m., when users are most likely engaged with work or school tasks. “Time-of-day targeting absolutely does affect your conversion rates,” Frisbie says.

Mobile users continue to favor their devices when they have time to focus. For example, respondents said “lying in bed,” “watching TV,” and “waiting for something” were all typical situations that led to mobile activity, with at least 65% adoption for each. Only 35% of mobile users admitted to using their devices in social settings, although “Gen M”—users under 25 years old—will likely slant this figure upwards as the demographic grows. Fully half of all youth mobile users said they employ their devices at social events.

The study also found that American mobile consumers are on their devices for an average of 144 minutes per day, trumping even television by three minutes. Seventy percent of those surveyed said they use mobile devices while watching TV. When calculating the data, InMobi counted the time spent both in the TV and the mobile columns during these overlap periods.

Mobile and television also led the pack when users were asked to name two forms of media that impact purchase decisions, clocking in at 59% and 57%, respectively, ahead of newspapers, Web, and radio, none of which mustered more than 38% usage.

“It’s a significant statement from consumers that mobile has become the No. 1 channel in terms of influencing overall purchasing decisions,” Frisbie says.

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