NEW YORK: Banking and finance has the highest level of mobile conversions of any category at 54%, according to new research which also shows that half of US mobile banking and finance activity is transactional, and half search and browsing.

The findings form part of the Annual US Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study, from xAd, the mobile advertising platform, and Telmetrics, the call measurement company. This is based on data from an online survey of 2,000 US smartphone and tablet users and observed consumer behaviors from Nielsen's Smartphone Analytics Panel of 6,000 Apple and Android users.

The study further revealed that an optimized mobile site was crucial to driving conversions, while location was also important, as a majority of users (62% of smartphone users and 52% of tablet users) expected businesses to be within five miles of their current location.

"Mobile bankers' strong on-device transaction rates indicate they are clearly action-oriented, so Banking & Finance advertisers need to ensure their mobile properties are optimized for efficient consumer activity," said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics.

"This is also a prime opportunity for banks to raise their local mobile brand awareness and provide current and potential customers specific location detail as they choose how to transact," he added.

Unsurprisingly, Millennials were in the forefront of this activity. Almost two thirds had completed a transaction on a mobile device and also relied heavily on them for research.

In addition, nearly three out of four younger bankers noticed mobile ads during their research process. "Advertisers have a unique opportunity to reach Millennials through specific promotions and tailored creative, as well as messaging to convert them into early brand loyalists," said Monica Ho, vice president of marketing at xAd.

In a less anticipated finding, older mobile bankers, those aged over 45, were more likely to notice targeted ads.

The majority of mobile search and browsing activity was spent researching checking and savings accounts, followed by credit cards. And while 50% of mobile banking users were looking to make a transaction right away, 25% were undecided and researching their decision.

On the technical side, consumers used both apps and web-based search on banking and financial sites, but the study suggested consumers were more inclined to use branded apps to conduct transactions, and browsers to search for general information.

Data sourced from xAd, TelMetrics, MediaPost; additional content by Warc staff