A new study from the University of Virginia and AOL argues that e-commerce purchases are increasingly taking place on mobile devices, and that iPads are far and away the preferred device for e-commerce transactions that aren’t made via desktop or laptop. The report, which was published today, found 31% of all ad conversions in travel, retail, automobiles, and telecommunications took place via mobile devices. Sixty-five percent of these mobile conversions took place on tablets–and 85% of the tablet conversions were made on iPads.
AOL Networks, one of AOL’s advertising arms, worked with the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering & Applied Science on the study. Researchers at the University of Virginia were given access to analytics for 500 billion ad impressions serviced by AOL and 100 million “conversion events” from within that data set. The data came from AOL’s Advertising.com; Chad Gallagher, Advertising.com’s director of mobile, told Fast Company in a phone conversation that the study proves customers will buy products on their tablets or phones based on advertising. He also added that “we want marketers to see mobile as the go-to device for transactions and not just as a marketing tool.”
For the purposes of the study, AOL and the University of Virginia defined “conversion events” as item purchases, travel reservation bookings, or similar analogs for purchasing a new car or changing a mobile phone plan. The study also found that 25% of customers’ digital time was spent at home on mobile devices, as the chart below illustrates.
AOL sees mobile as a way to reclaim advertising sales that have been lost to Google and other competitors; last year, the struggling Internet giant adopted a “mobile first” strategy for product development. Last week, AOL Networks poached CEO Bob Lord away from Razorfish.