Mobile devices generate more emotional ad engagement than TVs

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With digital content consumption on the rise, a new report from Yahoo! Advertising finds that smartphones alone could threaten TV’s dominance. The A day in the life of a media consumer report shows that nearly 75% of US consumers accessed the internet using a mobile phone last year. 53% of the world’s mobile phone owners are mobile internet users. Average time per day spent using smartphones is projected to grow 47% in 2017, whilst TV consumption continues to decline (-17%).

TV is still an important medium, particularly during prime time hours of of 8pm-10pm, but mobile has begun to creep in. On weekends, more consumers turn to their mobile devices during prime time hours, rivaling TV. Mobile device usage is dominated by apps, not browser use or calls.

Mobile apps rival TV on weekends

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Source: advertising.yahoo.com

Using wearables from glasses to watches, Nielsen researchers measured the attention and emotional response to adverts among 150 participants. Tracking biometric data, they found that Millennials and the Generation X respond differently to ads across devices. 55% of Millennials responded emotionally to TV ads, compared to 52% for smartphone ads. Generation X users however have a higher emotional reaction to content on smartphones at 42%, compared to 39% on TV.

Emotional response to different devices

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Source: advertising.yahoo.com

Interestingly, this emotional response varies throughout the day. Smartphones involve users more heavily during the hours from 11am-6pm, whilst TV responses are heaviest in the morning.

Emotional response by time of day and device

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Source: advertising.yahoo.com

However, things are looking slightly different for ads, where emotional engagement is higher for smartphone ads (53% compared to 43% on TV). One reason for this could be that we have established a more intimate connection to our smartphones as we carry them with us all day. Mobile ads are often also more personalised and appeal to highly targeted users, whereas TV advertising caters to a much broader audience.

Emotional ad response on smartphones is greater than on TV

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Source: advertising.yahoo.com

Generation X’ers are generally more responsive towards ads than content, whether they are watching TV or using their smartphones. Millennials also respond more heavily to ads (55%) on smartphone than content (51%).

Differences in emotional engagement between content and ads by device

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Source: advertising.yahoo.com

Marketers should take note that over half the time when a TV ad is on screen, consumer attention is diverted to another screen (smartphones and laptop). At an average CPM of $27 for TV and $3 for mobile, the latter clearly wins in attention and engagement.

Since mobile device attention is being heavily driven by app usage, it’s important to understand usage of app categories across ages. Whilst Generation X’ers spent most of their time using social, messaging (23%) and entertainment (26%) apps, Millennials are also drawn to health and fitness (37%) and lifestyle (26%) apps. 35-54-year-olds use utility and production apps (69%) most often, whilst (perhaps surprisingly) those over 55 years of age are playing games (31%).

App usage by category and age bracket

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Source: advertising.yahoo.com

Advertisers can benefit from these findings by focussing their efforts on creating more emotional campaigns for mobile devices, targeting key app segments.