Need to ReThink Our Mindset of “Mobile”
The Interactive Advertising Bureau is the research, educational and advocate arm of the interactive advertising industry. This July the IAB released a valuable research report regarding consumers’ use of smartphones and tablets–titled Mobile’s Role in a Consumer’s Media Day: Smartphones and Tablets Enable Seamless Digital Lives –available to study on the bureau’s website.
Probably the most interesting reality to emerge from this study (although shouldn’t be that surprising to even the casual observer) is how often–how habitual–owners use their smartphones or tablets. It literally is from the moment many of them awake! Based on IAB’s research, 34% of smartphone owners grab their devise first thing in the morning–as do 21% of tablet owners. It’s not just about checking news, scores and weather because 28% of tablet owners say they’re on-line viewing their social media. Similarly, 20% of smartphone users also wake up checking their wall, tweets, ect.
This prevalence of mobile devices in the early a.m. makes for a mini cultural shift. In Wally & Beaver’s day, the sole media consumed at sunrise, along with the cup of coffee, was the morning newspaper. Over the years Radio worked it’s way to become a key staple from alarm clock to morning commute by providing the latest information along with music and lots of personality. Then television joined the morning throng by airing more local early news coverage that included multiple weather and traffic updates. Today, the mass media combination of Print, Radio and TV still play a roll in providing news, sports and weather to consumers, but it’s vying for their attention as many also scroll their mobile devices for either more of the same information or for social media. Picture the young lady listening to her bedroom radio, using her tablet to “like” her friend’s post about last night, check out what’s new on Pinterest and getting dressed at the same time! Or, envision the man eating his toast at the kitchen table with ESPN on the living room TV while on his smartphone reading his Twitter feed then a Yahoo Sports column.
That’s just the start of the day. IAB research states 70% of smartphone owners and 25% of tablet owners won’t leave home without them. We see it all the time on the train, the sidewalk, the cafe, in the office at the desk, in the conference room, the break room, or bathroom–almost anywhere these folks are giving varying degrees of attention between what’s going on around them and what’s showing on their screen. These are the scenes we’ve used to define “mobile” in our mind–tablets and smartphones used away from home to keep up on e-mail, post a status, check a stock, a score or even buy tickets to Friday’s concert.
So one would think by the time tablet and smartphone owners return home, they’d had enough use of their mobile machine. But the stats of this research report tell a different story. While watching TV, 17% of smartphone users are browsing general media and 23% are on social media. The smartphone is also utilized at bed-time, 10% for checking general media and 11% for social media before shutting the eyes. Tablet owners go even further. While watching the tube, 32% are also on the tablet for general media while 27% are perusing their social media. And at bedtime, 23% of these owners are on their tablet for general media–23% for social media.
Where these owners are specifically going and doing on their tablet or smartphone throughout the day is content for another good article with interesting stats and behaviors from this IAB research report. Here’s one hint: social media is big on these devises; but so is shopping.
The key point to this article after an initial review of IAB’s research is the need to broaden our view of mobile devices. While they’re taken out of home to work and play, or for the commute on mass transit, one particular stat in this research report packs a very powerful punch. The IAB tells us that 91% of tablet and smartphone owners use their device at home–from out of bed to back in bed with about everywhere and everything in-between. Home is the most widely used location for “mobile” activity. Perhaps the word “mobile” is a bit of a misnomer.
Sprint may have been on the right track when building their digital phone network in the ’90′s and calling it Sprint PCS–which stood for Personal Communications Service. At that time, Sprint PCS was about a digital mobile phone with voice mail. Zip ahead 20 years with devices that store your photos, take photos, load and bank your favorite music, keep videos, record video, hold all your important contacts for phone, e-mail and Facebook, let you send and receive e-mail, post and comment on Facebook, let you “tweet’ and follow friends on Twitter, upload to Pinterest or other photo sharing sites, browse the web, make reservations, shop and buy virtually anything you wish as well as stream YouTube, TV and Radio from all over the world! (Oh, and that smartphone also has a feature of placing and receiving phone calls.) No wonder these devices go everywhere and are still heavily used at home. There is no other device at home that does what all that these electronic wonders can do. Smartphones and tablet have become personal communication devises. In fact, they do more to reflect and help carry on an individual’s life. They may has well be an appendage attached to their owner!
Bottom line: “mobile” in regards to smartphones and tablets means everywhere–including and especially at home. As this research report is aptly sub-titled, their use is “seamless” in regards to time, activity and location. When we use these tools to market to consumers, remember we’re likely reaching them at home as much as anywhere else “on the go”.