Mobile…The New First-Screen

Photo of Adam Herman
Date: 2012-11-15 18:08:53 // Categories: Consumer Insights,
By: Adam Herman
Date: 2012-11-15 18:08:53 // Categories: Consumer Insights,

Over the last decade, consumer engagement with media has moved from a one-screen only interaction (television), to adding a second-screen (computer desktops and laptops), to now a third-screen (phones and tablets). Among other things, this had led to the phenomena of multi-tasking, where two or more of these screens are used simultaneously. Think of watching your favorite TV show while using your iPad to post on Facebook when you are watching said show.

So while approximately 60% of consumers multi-task, which device is the most important of the three?

As EVP, Integrated Media Services of Zimmerman, I often make presentations on trends that impact our clients’ brands. During these, I’ll pose the question: “If you had to keep either your phone (almost everyone has a smartphone) or your TV, which would you choose?” I’ll preface the answer by admitting this isn’t a formal research survey and is skewed to the Millennial generation I am usually addressing, but inevitably, 9 out of 10 would keep the phone and surrender their TV. As supporting evidence however, I point to the increased trend in “cord-cutting” of cable providers, the fact that nearly all new phones sold are smartphones, and the increase in hours of online video viewership in general, to confirm this sentiment. If we continue to accelerate to a world dominated by mobile, this would be a paradigm shift that has huge implications to our clients moving forward.

At that point, is mobile the third screen or will it now become the first screen?
Advertisers are waking up to the immense opportunity with mobile. Mobile advertising is projected to hit $12 Billion in 2012 (up from $6 Billion in 2011), with estimates for 2016 reaching $31 Billion. But are brands and their mobile websites ready for the new gold rush? Some quick facts from Google’s “The Mobile Playbook”:

  • Mobile customers use store locators 63 times for every one mobile commerce order.
  • Almost half of all consumers use Smartphones for in-store product research and browsing.
  • 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site and 40% have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience.
  • By 2014, 208 million tablets will be sold worldwide, and 72% of tablet owners make purchases from their devices on a weekly basis.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Omnicom Network’s Emerge Summit “Mobile Everywhere & Always On,” and heard industry peers, publishers and vendors discuss the future of mobile. The consensus from this gathering is that mobile is more and more becoming the first screen for many. But equally as important, the definition of mobile itself is changing. Can we call mobile “mobile” when 68% of usage is now done in the home?

Mobile is an informer, an advisor, a navigator, a companion, a communicator, an entertainer, an obsession. It is the only medium we carry around constantly; in fact connect to our bodies. It is the first thing we look at when we rise and the last thing we check before we shut our eyes. We are moving past the convention of online and offline, but rather awake and asleep. Because when we are awake, we will always be connected.

Mobile is also multi-faceted with different devices, apps and connections. It is a personal extension to each consumer and is used in so many different ways, that connecting with them will be more than time and place marketing, but rather context relevance. Recognize there are mobile motivations. Targeting communications to capitalize on these motivators can increase engagement.

Looking at it through a marketing lens, mobile can be used at the Top-of-the-Funnel for branding with full screen tablet ads that engage through touching and movement; at the Middle-of-the-Funnel to drive to a brand’s site through search ads and listings; and finally at the Bottom-of-the-Funnel transacting e-commerce, often with shoppers show-rooming in your retail location but buying on a competitor’s site.

But more so than a stand-alone medium, mobile is the connective tissue across marketing. Be it email (30% of opens come from mobile), social media (half of all social access occurs through mobile), promotions (through scanned or downloaded coupons) and offline media (activating these channels through QR codes or apps such as Shazam). Two timely research pieces illustrate how mobile will impact retail this holiday season. In the “2012 Holiday and the Economy Survey,” 52% of U.S. Internet users believe mobile apps will make finding deals for Cyber Monday and Black Friday easier. Additionally, a study from cites 54% of U.S. online shoppers plan to download apps dedicated specifically to searching Black Friday deals. What do these stats mean? Brands who are not engaging in the mobile space will see an impact to their bottom line very shortly.

With mobile such a current and future driver to a brand’s success, is your organization prepared? At Zimmerman, we help clients adapt to the new mobile world. Steps we take include:

Defining your value proposition by determining what your consumer wants to do with your business in mobile. Making mobile a metric in your KPI dashboard. This is specifically important as Zimmerman is a results-oriented agency built on driving successful programs. Searching for the brand in mobile, as a consumer would – what’s working and what’s not? Separating mobile-specific search campaigns from desktop search campaigns. Testing, measuring and developing messaging specific for mobile. Understanding what your competition is doing in mobile. Assigning everyone in your marketing organization the action item of reviewing their programs through a mobile lens.

Mobile is quickly becoming the first screen for consumers, it cannot be the last thing added to the marketing plan.