BEIJING: Mobile search adspend is set to more than double in China over the next three years, during which time the number of consumers utilising services like Baidu and Google on their phone will near 600m.

According to a study by iResearch, the insights group, the ad revenues generated by operators in this sector – including from paid search and permanent position ads – would leap by 119% to RMB1.3bn in 2012.

The rate of acceleration was anticipated to moderate slightly in 2013, as the market grows by 53%, yielding RMB1.9bn. Totals will then rise by 37% in 2014 to RMB2.6bn, and by 32.8% to RMB3.5bn in 2015.

Given online search adspend for PCs came in at RMB18.9bn in 2011, the report suggested the mobile equivalent has "only just started its development", but added that this could be its "breakthrough year".

"There is unlimited potential in the future," the study continued. "On the one hand, accompanied by the further popularisation of smartphones and the constant improvement of the user interface, there will be more and more mobile search users."

In keeping with this trend, the firm estimated that the amount of consumers accessing search engines through tablets and mobile phones should expand by 36.7% in 2012, hitting 302m.

Looking forward, it predicted this figure would reach 398m in 2013, then 487m in 2014 and 584m in 2015, a process driven by rising device uptake and the roll out of enhanced platforms.

Based on a panel of 8,059 mobile web users, iResearch reported that 61.5% now entered enquiries on search engines via this route, the second most popular pastime, behind instant messaging on 69.5%.

Browsing news and similar material posted 57.5% on this metric, ahead of using apps on 56.7%. Ecommerce secured 38.8% on the same measure, and 38.4% of the sample visited social media sites.

Among the current mobile search audience, some 69.7% utilised these services every day, while 20.5% did so weekly and 9.8% "occasionally" attempted to discover information in this way.

Data sourced from iResearch; additional content by Warc staff