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Research: Americans spend more time on mobile than watching TV

By Lorna White


London, United Kingdom


The Mary Meeker report is always a key snapshot of the advertising industry. Within the industry, the analysis of where consumers spend their time and how this is changing and developing is essential when planning how to reach and market to consumers.

Courtesy of Ad Age, these are the top 10 themes in the report that highlight how the industry is shifting, what this means for advertiser brands, and how it will impact marketing investment and plans.

1. For the first time, Americans spent more time on their mobile devices than they did watching television.

This has been an approaching trend for a while and was reflected in UK media consumption. This doesn’t mean TV is redundant as a channel, however, advertiser brands need to consider the messaging and where their message is being consumed. Creative should start with mobile first rather than an afterthought.

Mobile gaming opens up a new, younger audience to advertisers.
Mobile gaming opens up a new, younger audience to advertisers.

2. Multi-player video games such as Fortnite, which command some 250 million active users, most of whom are under age 17, are becoming increasingly similar to social media networks.

Gaming has often been viewed by advertisers as poor quality or reaching certain undesirable audiences. Yet the growth in gaming as a mainstream activity means there are valuable audiences to be reached — especially through mobile gaming.

3. More than 50% of all tweets, for example, now include images.

This number reflects higher engagement. The use of imagery from both the consumer and brand perspective shows how easily accessible rich media has become.

4. For the first time, more than half of the global population is identified as Internet users.

From a global perspective, this shows how the Internet is becoming a more “essential” part of everyday life.

5. New platforms are emerging as hubs for Internet ad spending. Amazon, Twitter, and Pinterest collectively have seen six times year-over-year growth since 2017.

Advertiser brands need to understand the role of these brands in their ecosystem. Are they competition, essential to the purchase journey, or both?

Americans spend two hours a day on their laptops and with 88% of viewers saying they use a second digital device while watching TV programming.
Americans spend two hours a day on their laptops and with 88% of viewers saying they use a second digital device while watching TV programming.

6. In 2018, American adults spent an unprecedented average of 6.3 hours per day interacting with digital media, time was largely split between mobile devices at 3.6 hours and desktop or laptop computers at two hours.

Very much reflected in the United Kingdom, mobile browsing is huge. Considering this in messaging and ease of use is essential for brands.

7. Free trials were the most effective marketing tool for online streaming services to attract new users, with 42% of consumers listing “free trial tier” as the most compelling reason for trying a new service.

This reflects the consumer need for a value exchange. Advertisers need to consider what they are offering consumers to encourage engagement with their brand.

8. According to Nielsen, most television viewers are multi-platform multi-taskers, with 88% of viewers saying they use a second digital device while watching TV and 71% saying they look up content related to what they’re watching mid-show.

This shows a shift in habits and increases time spent with media overall. Gone are the days of “making a cup of tea” during the advertising break. Consumers are now engaging on their mobile devices alongside TV consumption — a big opportunity for brands.

9. Messaging platforms offering automatic or optional end-to-end encryption are rapidly rising in popularity, with secured services like Telegram and WhatsApp outpacing the growth of non-encrypted messaging services like Twitter and China’s WeChat.

The rise in privacy concerns is impacting how media companies approach messaging. This also highlights the importance of approaching this media channel with respect in terms of brand-to-consumer.

10. Despite people spending more time online, digital ad revenue is slowing down. The report says digital ad revenue grew 20%, down from 29% year-over-year.

As often occurs, traditional media commitments impact where advertising budget is spent. Time spent isn’t the only consideration when planning marketing spend, but it is a great indicator of where brands can reach their audiences and should be a big consideration.

About Lorna White

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