Open up any business, tech or ad trade publication and you’ll see the plain truth of where your customers are heading: mobile. According to the Pew Internet Project, 58 percent of American adults own a smartphone and 42 percent own a tablet. It’s no surprise that mobile is one of the fastest growing digital industries; eMarketer also projects that by the end of this year mobile advertising revenue will hit $180 billion, a growth of 5 percent over last year.
Those numbers might sound impressive but the truth is they are still out of sync with both the rate of increase in market proliferation of mobile devices and in consumers’ use of those devices to access digital content. Those increases directly translate to new opportunities to engage consumers and drive revenue, which would seem like a no-brainer. But somehow, many on both the advertising side will chat with a colleague about how “it’s all about mobile” and then turn right around and devote the vast bulk of their budgets and time toward TV and desktop advertising exclusively.
For decades now, TV has held the top dog spot in the marketing budget because no other medium could touch it when it came to the ability of brands to tell their stories. TV gave them not just picture and color but sound and motion, which taken together gave TV a unique ability to resonate with consumers on an emotional level. Desktop video emerged in the last decade and seemed like the online equivalent to television because it leveraged the power of video and delivered it to our desks and laptops.
However, along the way we all decided to go mobile. With the advent of smartphones, tablets and enabled by the new breakthroughs in speed mobile video consumption has skyrocketed. Today, the vast majority of consumers are constantly connected via their mobile devices, the immediate accessibility and convenience of mobile video has proven an effective draw. A January 2014 report from BI Intelligence notes that 50 million people in the U.S. now watch video on their mobile phones and 15 percent of all online video hours globally are viewed on tablets and smartphones.
It’s time for a wake-up call: the third screen is a reality and it is well-known that consumers spend as much time or more on mobile devices than anywhere else–eMarketer estimates that U.S. adults spend nearly 3 hours per day on their mobile devices. Content is going digital and consumers are going mobile to access it. But this phenomenon is in complete contrast with where ad dollars are going. According to the CMO Council, 1 percent of all US advertising spending is on mobile platforms, compared to 43 percent on TV and 29 percent on print.
Of course, no one is expecting mobile video to completely unseat TV anytime soon—both technology and consumer perception/adoption of mobile video have a ways to go before that would be possible—however, it’s astonishing how few marketers have been willing to take a share of their TV budget or their desktop budgets and redirect it toward mobile.
Ultimately, this disconnect is a shared burden and all participants in the market must work together to reflect that, like it or not, consumers have unhooked and gone mobile.
Advertisers need to demand of their agencies and networks that an appropriate amount of spend be allocated to mobile. It is easier for agencies and service providers to simply buy the same media and abide by the same practices rather than increase their workload by making significant changes. For a media buyer, reallocating even just 10 percent of a buy toward mobile would require more than just 10 percent more work. It’s an entirely separate channel, and you don’t turn around an ocean liner on a dime; major changes at any organization take time and the wiggle room to find their footing. Unfortunately, that means that brands themselves are going to have to push for mobile, and expect to be pushed back.
On the other side of the equation, it is critical that publishers invest in mobile optimized sites and mobile apps where possible and valuable, as well as increase the overall amount of video inventory they are producing. Advertisers can’t push to take advantage of mobile video opportunities if they aren’t there. Publishers need to create those opportunities via compelling mobile apps and content, and they will reap the rewards in significantly increased traffic and ad revenues.
There is no way to put the mobile genie back into the jar; our phones, phablets and tablets are with us almost all of the time, presenting marketers with opportunities to engage us. But it is incumbent on both marketers and publishers to both work harder and work together if they want to capitalize on mobile advertising, otherwise, consumers will hop on their phones and leave them behind.