Mobile Web Use Growing, Driven by Women, Seniors and Porn

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The number of mobile Web users grew 34 percent between July 2008 and July 2009, fueled primarily by increased uptake among women, teens and senior citizens, according to a new report from The Nielsen Company. Seniors surged upwards 67 percent, vastly outpacing the 45-percent growth among teens 13-17. Women users across all age groups increased by 43 percent, compared to a 26-percent growth rate among men, who continue to compose about 53 percent of the total audience.

That’s particularly interesting when paired with informal reports that as much as 80 percent of the mobile Web is composed of adult content.

"Nearly five years ago, I predicted mobile search was going to be the freedom fighter of mobile, " GoMo News writer Bena Roberts noted in a Thursday column. "I said it would empower brands, agencies and vendors to find far-reaching and innovative business models."

However, Roberts also predicted adult quickly would be overtaken by innovations in mainstream sectors like live search and geo-location functions, replacing porn’s dominance with apps and services of a more utilitarian nature.

"Today I had a phone call with a mobile search company that has put its most innovative business model in the bin and replaced it with an adult content and porn plan, ” she admitted Thursday. "People in the know from ad networks are telling me that 80 percent of the mobile Web is adult or porn. That is where the money is…. Truth be told, adult is showing [return on investment] in mobile."

Roberts performed a perfunctory check of the mobile Web and determined three sectors seem to be the best performers, judging by the number of entries in the spaces: adult dating, gay search and user-generated mobile content.

"I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I saw gay search as real-life proof that mobile search did have amazing potential, " she revealed. "Focusing on keywords (including the obscure), the adult search services based on vertical keywords rocked. I typed in ‘beard, ’ and I got several options (video, image, text) on every oddball type of bearded gay person going."

Mobile adult dating with a social networking component "where strangers play strip poker, play games and tell virtual stories" likewise shocked Roberts with its popularity and the level of participant engagement. The user-generated-content sites onto which she logged were "being visited [simultaneously] by several hundred people globally."

"[S]trangely adult is a success story for several visionary mobile concepts, " she concluded. "Isn’t that proof that mobile is a success…?"


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