Listen up advertisers, if you want to make an impact with digitally connected African American consumers, try targeting them on their mobile phones.
So suggests Google in a study on “digital truths” about African Americans, which it released Friday at the AdColor conference in Los Angeles.
Commissioned by Google and conducted by independent market research firm Ipsos OTX MediaCT, the study compared the digital habits of African-Americans to a representative sample of U.S. residents. Survey participants in both groups were aged 18-64, were Internet users, and had made an auto, tech, retail, consumer packaged good, healthcare, or fast food (QSR) purchase in the last six months.
According to the study, more African-Americans own smartphones than those in the representative group (53 percent vs. 45 percent) and they are more likely than members of the representative group to click on smartphone ads and visit the website of the advertisers (31 percent vs. 21 percent).
African-Americans also reported higher rates of smartphone ad recall than others surveyed (40 percent vs. 31 percent), the study said.
“The big issue here is that there isn’t a lot of research and detailed information on the digital behaviors and online media consumption habits of the multi-cultural community,” said Torrence Boone, managing director, agency business development at Google.
Of the study’s findings, he said the insights on the mobile landscape were most surprising to him. Not only did a higher percentage of African-American respondents report owning a smartphone (53 percent vs. 45 percent in the representative group), Boone said the usage patterns within mobile were particularly interesting.
In addition to being more likely to click on ads, African-Americans are more likely to watch video, use apps and manage their finance via smartphone, he said.
“I think mobile is a new channel that we’re still very much figuring out and there’s obviously lots of opportunity there,” he said.
The study also said that African-Americans are more engaged in video and are more thorough in their pre-purchase research.
Once they reach a video site, they put in more time per visit (52 minutes vs. 42 minutes for the representative group) and they are more likely to search online for something they saw in a TV ad (82 percent vs. 78 percent for the general market).
A July 2011 study on smartphone ownership from the Pew Internet & American Life Project uncovered somewhat consistent results.
While researchers found that about one third (35 percent) of American adults owned a smartphone, ownership rates were higher among several groups, including African-Americans and Latinos (44 percent of those segments are smartphone owners). Previous studies have also shown that multi-cultural markets in the U.S. tend to be more avid users of mobile phones.