More than half of Australia’s population now own smartphones and it’s rapidly becoming critical shopping tools, according to research by Google.

Google’s study conducted with Ipsos Media CT reveals Australia’s smartphone penetration is now 52 per cent, representing growth of over 40 per cent year-on-year, up from 37 per cent last year.

Of those who own a smartphones, 65 per cent access the web from their phone on a daily basis and 94 per cent surveyed have researched a product or service on their devices, while 28 per cent have bought a product via their smartphone.

At the same time, Google’s data also reveals that the vast majority (79 per cent) of Aussie businesses don’t have a mobile-optimised website — even though 61 per cent of mobile users surveyed said they were unlikely to return to a site that they had trouble accessing from their phone.

“The mobile revolution isn’t ‘coming’ – it’s already happened. Mobile is no longer optional: businesses need to develop a mobile strategy now, or risk getting left behind,” Jason Pellegrino, head of mobile ads, Google Australia, says.

Google’s research also shows that smartphone users are ‘multi-tasking’ on mobile, creating opportunities for advertisers to amplify their campaigns with mobile ads. Eighty per cent of consumers surveyed use their phone while doing other things such as watching TV (48 per cent) or reading newspapers or magazines (18 per cent). Also, 57 per cent have admitted to be actively searching on their mobile device after seeing an ad on TV.

“Businesses should complement their online and offline ad campaigns with mobile ads to reach their target audience on all screens their audience is looking at,” Pellegrino says.