New Mediative whitepaper – Google Places on the iPhone

More and more shoppers are using their smartphones to research and make purchases. As retailers experience fewer physical visits to stores, they must embrace the trend toward mobile shopping. Optimizing a Google Places listing is a good place to start.

IBM reports that mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad drove 6.6 percent of online sales on Cyber Monday. What’s more, in 2011, 10.8 percent of people used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, up from 3.9 percent in 2010.

A few months ago, we ran a study of Google Places on the desktop with our eye tracking technology and recorded where people looked on the computer screen, and also mapped where they clicked. From our research, we made recommendations about what businesses need to do to get the most from a Google Places listing.

As a follow-up to that research, we decided to try the same tasks on a mobile device: in this case, an Apple iPhone using the free Google Places app.

We used twelve participants: an even number of female and male participants, ranging in age from 21 to 45.

Every participant was given the same scenario – an imaginary road trip with stops in Hamilton, London, Winnipeg, and Edmonton with the task of choosing a place for a friend to get a tattoo in each of those cities based on the Google Places search results.

Participants entered their own search term. Most participants used either “Hamilton tattoos” or “tattoos in Hamilton”.

We noticed that on an iPhone, participants would sometimes scroll further down the listings than they did on a desktop computer environment, for two reasons:

  1. There is considerably less space on an iPhone screen compared to a computer screen, so only three complete listings can be seen at once on an iPhone.
  2. The iPhone interface makes it easy to scroll up and down.

People typically start looking in the upper left part of the screen, scan from left to right, then move down to the next result, and scan from left to right again. However, given the small space of the iPhone screen, some people will have their attention pulled to the right to look at an image, and may continue a scan down to the next image, before resuming a left-to-right scan pattern. In the tattoo study, people looked at images to determine if the business looked trustworthy. The images clicked were split between storefronts or images of tattoo work.

If they start scrolling down, then their gaze will stay on the left side until they hit a listing of interest. In our study, listings that had at least 3+ star reviews took 41 out of 47 clicks. Ratings and reviews were the most important factor in capturing visual attention and clicks.

To learn more about Google Places on the iPhone and our findings, download the study.