Viewers Spend More Time with Mobile but TV Is Dominant Video Platform

Brendan Gill  | 

This year, for the first time ever, U.S. consumers will spend more time with mobile devices than TV, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast. While this shift toward mobile isn’t unexpected, it has significant implications for advertisers navigating today’s video everywhere world. Here are some of eMarketer’s top-line insights.

Going Mobile
eMarketer projects that average adults will spend about 1 out of every 3 media minutes on a mobile device this year, up from about 24% in 2015. That translates into 3 hours and 43 minutes on tablets, feature phones and smartphones per day—slightly more than the 3 hours and 35 minutes that will be spent watching TV. That mobile is now figuring as prominently as TV in consumers’ lives is a direct result of the growing penetration of smartphones (70% of Americans now have them) and increased expectations for anyplace, anytime media consumption.

With consumers now dividing their time almost equally between TV and mobile, advertisers are finally directing more dollars toward mobile—and reaping bigger rewards. Last year, both TV and mobile generated $0.21 in revenue per hour of time spent per adult in the U.S.; this year mobile is expected to generate $0.25 per hour to TV’s $0.22. Marketers that aren’t campaigning across both traditional and mobile screens stand to miss out on all the opportunities for being in tune with consumers’ ever-expanding viewing habits.

More Media Activities Call for Diversified Ad Strategies
In terms of their mobile viewing habits, the eMarketer report points to audio and social as the top activities, followed closely by video, a reflection of how much more people can do on their phones (mostly smartphones) vs with their TV sets. Use of apps dominates, accounting for about 87% of mobile app time, and more than 90% of smartphone time, suggesting that viewers are enthusiastically embracing app-like experiences over web views.

As for time spent, digital audio and social networking rank No. 1 and 2, with the average adult spending 0:53 in a mobile digital audio app, 10 minutes more than in a social networking app. For advertisers, strategies that account for the growing popularity of podcasts and time spent on social networking will help keep pace with viewer behaviors.

TV Still Dominates Video Consumption
While time with traditional TV is plateauing, audiences are still consuming a lot of video content across devices, OTT in particular. But TV still rules the video kingdom. This year consumers will spend 1 hour, 37 minutes daily with digital video compared with the 3 hours, 35 minutes they will spend watching TV. For advertisers, it doesn’t matter how many times studies note declines in audiences, TV remains a critical part of the marketing mix.

In Marketing Land’s interpretation of the report, the big takeaway is that TV is rapidly becoming another digital channel, with the same targeting and attribution capabilities as online video or display. So while mass-audience reach on TV may be declining, better targeting and personalization are increasingly being enabled by the changing video consumption landscape and the digitization of TV.

In other words, the popularity of platforms, formats, media, devices, etc. will always change. Future proofing campaigns is simply a matter of crossing platforms with a healthy mix of formats to anticipate the inevitable shifts in consumer tastes and interests.

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