Ad-support mobile search is actually favored by mobile search users, who also prefer voice search to text search. These are the results of a new independent user experience benchmark on mobile search that was conducted by Usable Products Company. Participants in the survey preferred voice-enable mobile search solutions more than text-based options, and 79 percent of participants favored advertising-supported mobile search. In fact the study found that 37 percent felt that the banner ads actually enhanced the mobile search experience.
During this study four mobile search solutions were benchmarked including InfoSpace WAP, JumpTap Java (Alltel Axcess Search), Nuance Voice Control and Yahoo! Go.
Voice was initially predicted by participants to be the search that would be most difficult to use, but an hour into the study the users actually gave it higher ratings than text search. “Users predicted voice search would be the worst of the four search products, but in final usability, it performed better than expected,” said Scott Weiss, president of Usable Products. “We were surprised that participants enjoyed voice search, and how much more they liked it than searching via phone keypad.”
These results are interesting, but there are still outstanding issues. Notably, would ad-support search allow for a free search option, and will results be paid sponsors? Additionally, voice search does sound like it would have good options, but obviously users would need to speak clearly and be in a fairly quiet area. It would be worth exploring how users like voice search in loud and crowded areas, and how well the service works at these times.