Bing sharpens mobile commerce as smartphone shoppers account for 81% of all UK digital shoppers

Microsoft’s Bing is giving advertisers tools to capitalise on the surge in mobile commerce taking place across its network as its own research shows that shopping is fast-becoming a regular activity on smartphones and tablets.

The search engine is rolling out Bing Shopping, a suite of tools it claims give marketers “greater control” over campaigns and a “higher degree” of granularity including sharper analysis of budget, spend and return on investment. It is also being pitched as a consistent product experience to rival ad platforms, allowing advertisers to easily transfer from other platforms such as Google Shopping.

That potential to offer brands more potent ads comes as Bing looks to position itself at the tip of mobile search. Data from search activity across the Bing Network in the UK last year revealed that retail garners the highest share of mobile searchers (54 per cent) at the weekend, ahead of travel (48 per cent) and finance (36 per cent). Retail’s dominance at those moments when people have the most downtime reflects the jump in mobile commerce that now sees smartphone shoppers make up nearly 81 per cent of all UK digital shoppers.

Indeed, that rise contributes to the breadth of searches taking place on mobile now, with the number of queries from smartphones growing by over 20 per cent year-on-year, according to the research. Searches asking ‘what’ have nearly doubled (48 per cent), while those asking ‘which’ are up by more than a third (32 per cent). On mobile devices that trend seems to be driven by under 35s, who account for more than half the smartphone queries, whereas the over 50s dominate searches on tablets (40 per cent).

Women are more curious than men on mobile, currently making six in 10 searches on smartphones and tablets.

The findings serve to enhance Bing’s sales pitch around the ‘mobility of experiences’, which is its way of putting search where people are, regardless of device and not just being reactive but also predictive too. This is shown by the fact that more than a third of Bing’s search queries now come from iOS devices, accounting for 66 per cent of mobile searches, which drive 77 per cent of the mobile buys across its network.

Mobile queries worldwide make up a third (33 per cent) of Bing’s search volume last year.

“We’re not just about the mobile on our phones,” said Mascha Driessen, Western Europe ad sales director at Bing Ads. “We have a long-term commitment to investing on mobile beyond the Windows phone. Search has always been a very important company especially now that Bing is deeply integrate into Windows 10, where we can see its really taking off now. It’s not only there but also in other devices whether it’s the Hololens or the Microsoft Band as well as other platforms.

Driessen’s comments point to Bing’s evolution beyond text, whether that’s through location so that people can locate the nearest store or through Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana. Voice searches tend to be longer with more tailored words, according to the Bing study, with those keywords slightly different to text-based because they’re more to the point.

It offers a glimpse into how Microsoft plans to tighten its grip on a search market where it continues to prosper. Bing hit 20 per cent market share in the US last year, according to ComScore, as the company’s proposition continued to prosper at the expense of search alliance partner Yahoo. Last year, Bing reclaimed sales responsibilities for Bing ads back from Yahoo.

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