Search in 2020

How Consumer Search Behavior Is Adapting to Mobile, Voice and Visual Channels

About This Report
More than eight in 10 consumers search for information online, and most of them conduct this activity on mobile devices as well as PCs. Many also now use even newer channels like visual and voice.

Executive Summary

Searching for information is one of the oldest and most common online activities. We forecast that more than 85% of US internet users, or 246.4 million people, will search online at least monthly in 2020. Most will use smartphones for at least some of those searches, though newer channels are becoming more common.

How has consumer search behavior changed over time?

Most US internet users now search for information not just via PC but also on their smartphone, indicating intent and interest while on the go—or just second-screening from the couch. Visual search has caught on among a solid chunk of users, while voice is more nascent but gaining share.

What changes do these new contexts represent?

Despite accounting for most impressions, mobile searches still convert at lower rates than desktop ones. And when consumers search with voice, often without a screen, it means marketers need to be the one correct answer if they want to appear at all in results.

How are consumers using Amazon to search?

Searching for products directly on a retail site—usually Amazon—is not a new behavior for consumers in the US, and most who shop at Amazon start their product searches there if they have a good idea of what they want. But for certain types of products, and for higher-funnel research, Google still dominates.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores consumer trends in search behavior, including how they’re searching on mobile, with voice and on ecommerce channels. It also details how marketers are responding to these changes.

KEY STAT: More than nine in 10 US smartphone users will search on their mobile phone this year. Smartphones have changed how people search and what types of results they’re looking for—and, in turn, how search engines are serving them.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Search Is a Largely Mobile Activity
  3. Amazon and the Ecommerce Channel
  1. Voice and Visual Search
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Darin Archer
Elastic Path
Chief Strategy Officer
Interviewed November 22, 2019
Mike Balducci
Vice President of Strategy
Interviewed October 31, 2019
Todd Bowman
Senior Director, Amazon and eRetail
Interviewed October 18, 2019
Melissa Burdick
Co-Founder, President
Interviewed October 24, 2019
Simon de Beauregard
Engagement Director, Absolut, Malibu, Kahlua and Smithworks
Interviewed November 13, 2019
Casey Gauss
Viral Launch
Interviewed October 22, 2019
Selina Heckendorf
The Mars Agency
Vice President, Ecommerce/Amazon Strategy
Interviewed October 18, 2019
Marcel Hollerbach
Interviewed November 22, 2019
Paul Michelotti
Director, Solutions Architect
Interviewed November 22, 2019
Brian Walker
Chief Strategy Officer
Interviewed November 22, 2019
Madelyn Wing
Director of Product and Customer Marketing
Interviewed November 22, 2019

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Nicole Perrin


Lauren Fisher
Principal Analyst
Natalie McGranahan
Senior Researcher and Taxonomy Manager
Victoria Petrock
Principal Analyst
Jillian Ryan
Principal Analyst

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