Vlingo Top Ten Searches Reveal Mobile Intent
In the spirit of top-ten lists flying at us this time of year, voice search provider Vlingo has revealed the top searches across its mobile apps (via TechCrunch). The list affirms much of what we know about mobile search behavior, including high interest in social networking.
5. Movie Times
7. Yellow Pages
10. White Pages
One of the key points here is that mobile search involves different intent than online search. Specifically, immediate/action oriented needs such as “movie times,” “Yellow Pages” and “MapQuest” take up much of the list. Compare with Google’s (desktop) top searches, which are decidedly more topical/news oriented:
1. michael jackson
6. new moon
7. lady gaga
8. windows 7
10. torpedo gratis
The differences in these lists are at the core of the argument that products and content need to be uniquely served for mobile rather than “borrowed” from the desktop.
Put another way, do the algorithms that govern relevance in mobile need to differ from desktop? My desktop search for “McDonalds” might be to find out the history of the company or stock quote, while my mobile search is more likely to find the closest Big Mac.
Another way to look at this is to note the top categories of mobile ad spending, according to Millennial Media. Which of the two above lists does it more effectively target?
6. Consumer packaged goods
8. Armed forces
True, these mostly represent display advertising and the lists above pertain more to search. But does it say something generally about how mobile ad spending is misaligned with interest and intent on the user side?
Also interesting about Vlingo’s list: YouTube as the top result indicates a genuine consumer interest in mobile video. This has been a bone of contention over the past year in discussions about mobile television models.
Lastly, the differences here are not only between mobile and online searches, but there is a third variable that’s difficult to isolate: Does it say something about how search is impacted by voice as an input (versus typing)?
Vlingo reportedly has 3 million users from mobile voice apps across most major mobile platforms. Twenty percent of this usage is voice search, the rest going to dictation and other speech-to-text applications.
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This is interesting yet confusing. When you press the key to activate Vlingo and say “Youtube” the browser goes straight to Youtube. So it is not actually performing a search in the traditional sense. It is more of a navigational tool just like typing in youtube.com in the url of your browser. To search on Vlingo you say “search (term).” If Vlingo is reporting the navigational aspect as a “search” then this top 10 is misleading. If people are saying “search Youtube” instead of “Youtube” they are missing the point. I wonder if these stats are accurate.