Mobile everywhere – cross-platform future is driven by media and advertising consumption on smartphones

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As more marketers turn to capture audiences on multiple devices, comScore has published its 2017 US Cross-Platform Future in Focus paper to assess current market options and demands.

According to the research, total digital media usage increased 40% between 2013 and 2016. Mobile is driving much of that growth and smartphone devices have pushed into the digital arena as tablets and desktops noted a decline in engagement rates.

Overall, time spent using mobile devices continues its upward trajectory and reached an average 2.51 hours a day per person in the US by the end of 2016. That’s almost double compared to desktop. Mobile accounts for 69% of all digital media time spent and apps are driving that growth at 60%.

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In the US, mobile-only consumers are a newly emerging group of digital users. The segment is driven by millennials who tend to rely on their mobile devices more heavily. Mobile penetration among millennials is hitting a saturation point in the US, whilst the over 55-year-olds segment still has some room for growth.

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Among the leading 100 media properties, digital audiences and in particular mobile audiences are driving growth. Indeed, mobile audiences boosted audiences by 2.4x versus desktop. The average top 10 digital media properties sees 39% of its audiences using mobile-only to visit its site, compared to 34% using both mobile and desktop. Google sites and Facebook are leading the top 10 properties.

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The leading mobile apps include Facebook and Facebook Messenger – no surprise there; followed by YouTube, Google Search and Maps as well as Instagram. Snapchat, Pandora and Amazon are the largest apps which do not belong to the top two.

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Social media consumption has undoubtedly gone mobile-only with a whopping 70% of it happening on smartphone apps. Indeed, apps are the dominant social media platform at 60% in the US.

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Whilst millennial audiences tend to engage more with Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, those aged 35+ years show a definite preference for Facebook and occasionally use LinkedIn and Instagram too. Snapchat in particular has been boosted by its largely millennial audience. However, it appears the company has grown up and is beginning to attract older audiences as well. According to comScore, 35+ year-olds now account for almost 46% of Snapchat’s US adult audience. That’s almost double compared to the 24% in 2015.

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YouTube has also noted a big shift from desktop to mobile over the last few years. Around 70% of its viewing now happens on mobile compared to 30% on desktop. However, longer videos are still preferred on desktop screens, whilst mobile audiences tend to consume shorter length videos.

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When it comes to advertising, comScore reported a worrying trend of half of desktop advertising impressions not being able to hit an impact. That’s because most of these ads are delivered out of view with a significant percentage of ads being fraudulent. 54% of ads were found to be viewable, compared to 40% that were not viewable and 6% invalid traffic.

Video is not spared either given its growing importance among advertisers. comScore says that this trend will likely become a major challenge for the industry in the near future.

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Meanwhile, mobile ads are performing better on brand effectiveness than desktop ads with a 3x greater lift of key brand metrics, including awareness, favourability, recommendability and purchase intent. This may be driven by strong geo-targeting features and being able to reach consumers 24/7 on mobile devices.

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Mobile has also made significant gains within mCommerce and delivers an increasingly larger share of retail sales. Of the $109 billion in US eCommerce in Q4 2016, $22.7 billion came from mobile devices.

2016 was definitely the most significant year for mCommerce yet. The sector saw a 47% growth rate, outpacing both eCommerce (14%) and brick and mortar (5%). However, whilst mobile accounted for 67% of time spent shopping online, just 20% of it resulted in actual digital sales. It appears that security concerns and perhaps smaller screen sizes are hindering sales.

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As of right now, the digital advertising market can be seen as both an exciting, but also confusing industry. Digital viewability and fraud issues are making it more difficult for advertisers to trust ad performance figures. Ad measurement technologies will have to address relevancy issues in order to advance the market. Deep targeting tools are also likely to significantly push demographics and measurement.