Google’s analysis division has released its latest report on consumer behaviour in the digital age. This time, the analysis group behind the famous Google Traveller studies teamed up with Ipsos MediaCT and Purchased to survey 4500 respondents about their local search behaviour. Local searches are aimed at finding things near where they happen to be, such as getting directions to a nearby attraction, searching for restaurants in the immediate surrounding or checking the opening hour of the closest museum.


Local search is becoming a growing phenomenon, especially in the travel and tourism domain, as more travellers are making use of their smartphone and tablets while being on the go. Google confirms this development. According to the study, 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information. Moreover, when consumers are on the go, the majority of searches (56%) have local intent. The most prominent activities for smartphone users are to check opening hours (54%), get directions to a local business (53%) and to find store addresses (50%). On smartphones, local search is driving mainly the inspiration phase (57% of respondents), whereas on tablets local search is predominantly used in the research and consideration phase (83%). This is an interesting finding, especially for tourism stakeholders, as optimising web-presences for local searches could be key to drive visitors to the business. The very minimum that marketers should do is making sure that product availability, address and directions appear in ads across smartphone and tablet websites. Also adding businesses to local search functions such as ‘Google Places’ is critical.


The growing importance of local search goes hand in hand with a growing demand for location based ads. Over 2 in 3 mobile internet device owners want location ads to be customised to their postcode and/or their immediate surroundings. In these location based ads, over 70% of consumers deem a call to action, such as “Call” or “Get directions” button, as important. These adverts not only drive customers to local businesses, but also lead consumers to make purchases. In total one in three respondents visit a store and made a purchase as a response to a location based ad. The true potential for tourism marketers in this technology lies in making use of location bid adjustments, such as targeting specific areas that tourists visit frequently (e.g. postcode areas of major tourist sights, central train stations or event venues). This enables businesses to tap into the major tourist markets and increase the visibility with highly relevant audiences.




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