Mobile vs Desktop Online Consumer Search Behaviour

Jacobs JA, Klein S, Holland, CP

Relevance & Research Question: Extant literature suggest that mobile devices change the way consumers use search engines (Church et al. 2008). Kamwar and Baluja (2006) and Kamwar et al. (2009) found that mobile users tend to do fewer search queries on mobile devices (1.6 per session) compared to desktops (>2). However, Kamwar and Baluja (2006, p. 27) conjecture that mobile “breadth and depth of information desire” will increase. Literature also suggests the socio-demographic characteristics, such as age or income, have an influence on consumer behaviour (Hernandez et al. 2011). We want to investigate the differences of search behaviour using mobile devices compared to desktop computers based on average website visits per month. We operationalise search breadth and depth in terms of consideration set (CS) (Howard 1977) and time (Hoyer 1984, Ratchford et al. 2003). Therefore, our research question are: 1a) Are there differences between mobile and desktop search behaviour? 1b) If yes, what are the differences? 2) What is the moderating effect of age or income on the mobile and desktop search behaviour?Methods & Data: Our study is based on ComScore clickstream data. We compare the behaviour across three subsets of users (mobile only, desktop only, both) aggregated at the level of a month. We take consideration set, total time, frequency, and time per visit as metrics of search behaviour.Results: Our initial findings based on US market data suggest clear variations across our four metrics for the different subsets of users. Time spent on search is lower for mobile users than for desktop users. Age and income variables have a moderating effect on search breadth and depth. Similarly, our initial results do not support the assumption of Kamwar and Baluja (2006).Added Value: The results of this study highlight the impact of devices used on the search behaviour. Previous findings, which have been mainly based on log-file analysis and suggest that mobile searchers show similar search patterns to web searchers (Church et al. 2008) are not supported by our findings. The initial findings promise to have practical implications for marketing.

Abstract in Online-Sammlung (Konferenz)


accepted / in press (not yet published)


General Online Research (GOR 2016)

Dresden, Germany