Understanding the Always Connected Era
For most of us, a mobile device isn’t just something we use, it’s an extension of ourselves.
Mobile devices are now the official source for wake-up calls, weather predicting, navigating to your destination, fulfilling immediate shopping needs, solving burning “Google it” questions, social conversing, and connecting to the outside world. One study observed that Americans check their phones every 12 minutes, while eMarketer estimated that US adults spent an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018, with 86% of their mobile time in apps. Inc. concluded mobile usage may even be higher than 4 hours.
And even when doing other activities, we’re still tapped into mobile devices — often using them as second screens when we’re engaging with other screens. The concept of continuous partial attention was coined by Linda Stone in 1998 to describe consumers’ tendency to stay connected by continuously splitting their attention between multiple content sources. A recent Nielsen study found that 28% of adults “sometimes” do this, while 36% report using second screens “very often,” and 9% “always.” But we turn to mobile most for our video content, too. Over 55% of the US population regularly watches video on mobile, and the average smartphone video viewer is estimated to have spent 44 minutes watching videos on their device in 2018. Table users spent 38 minutes. Now in 2019, mobile is predicted to “surpass TV as the medium attracting the most minutes.”
The increasing time spent on mobile devices gives them the top position for facilitating human connections — and undoubtedly the area most primed for brands to connect with their consumers. After all, with smartphone users 50% more likely to expect immediate purchases, it’s no wonder why mCommerce sales reached 39.6% of total US ecommerce sales in 2018.
Advertising’s Year of Mobile Has (Finally) Arrived
If you follow industry talk, every year has been the “year of mobile.” Interestingly, though, 2018 was first year the numbers proved that. The first half of 2018 was the first time mobile advertising reached $31 billion — amounting to 63% of total U.S. digital ad spend in the first half of the year. In that time period, native mobile ad delivery prevailed in ad spend, with 48.4% on phones and 6.3% on tablet, in comparison to 45.3% on desktop.
As digital video advertising reached $7 billion in 1H 2018, it couldn’t have been possible without mobile, which took 60% of that. eMarketer estimates that in 2019, US mobile video ad spending will reach $15.93 billion in 2019, and that $20 billion more will be spent on mobile advertising than will be spent on TV.
Pivoting to a Mobile-First Strategy
As consumers spend more and more time on mobile devices, advertisers and publishers will benefit from more frequent opportunities to engage with consumers anywhere. This, of course, means shifting budgets and placements accordingly, but it also means rethinking the way the industry advertises on mobile. Historically, this has translated into shrinking banners into mobile screens that are hard to read or interact with, or offering pop-ups that are disruptive and disliked by consumers and Google alike. On the other hand, native ads outperform banner ads overall, and they shine on mobile because of their ability to integrate seamlessly within the feed of content. When considering mobile formats, advertisers will need to get more creative to offer immersive, personalized ad experiences that encourage interactivity — in both storytelling and functionality.