Mobile is playing increasingly dominant role in U.K. restaurant searches. According to new research from the restaurant category of the U.K. Mobile Path-to-Purchase study, which was commissioned by xAd and Telmetrics and conducted by Nielsen, mobile is the only media used by half of mobile restaurant searchers (49 percent), and 50 percent say mobile devices are the most important media source for their restaurant research.

Restaurant marketers have a short window of opportunity to influence this high conversion category as most (78 percent) mobile-driven U.K. restaurant searches result in a purchase/booking and 59 percent want to make a decision the same day.

"With holiday celebrations commencing and Christmas and New Year dining reservations creating a peak in activity, restaurant marketers have an opportunity to impact consumers' purchase decisions," said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics. "Marketers can help capture and monetize the large number of mobile restaurant searchers that ultimately book a reservation or visit the restaurant with well-targeted mobile ad campaigns that are locally relevant and offer upfront contact info."

Location is crucial

Mobile advertisers need to ensure their campaigns are locally relevant as location proximity is a key purchase influencer, according to the study. For smartphone restaurant researchers, of which half are using their device on the go, nearly three out of four expect the restaurant to be within five miles, including a quarter who expect it to be within walking distance.

Looking up locations is the most popular restaurant search activity (69 percent) and map/navigational apps/sites are 36 percent more popular for restaurant searches than the other categories studied (Auto and Travel). Location is also important to tablet searchers as 60 percent expect restaurant locations to be within five miles.

"Local is at the heart of effective mobile ad campaigns and is an especially key component to engaging mobile restaurant searchers and driving reservations," said Monica Ho, vice president of marketing for xAd Inc. "As smartphone searchers' dining decisions are heavily influenced by location, advertisers need to tailor their campaigns to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right message."

Diner reviews

User reviews are the most important mobile restaurant research feature and 58 percent of mobile searchers use reviews in their purchase decisions, according to the study. Reviews are the top search activity for tablet searchers who also use their devices more heavily for researching menu options. Overall, the top three most important features for mobile restaurant searchers are: online reviews, location proximity and an optimized website. A mobile-optimized site is key for monetizing mobile traffic as most restaurant searchers use mobile websites rather than apps.

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