Always On, Cross-Device Multitaskers: Understanding the Mobile Consumer

Mobile Consumer

Verto logoConsumers are constantly plugged into the Internet,and today, this activity is mobile-centric. From live-tweeting TV shows and games to sharing pictures of a trip, reading the news on the way to work or school, playing games on phones and tablets, or scrolling through social media throughout the day – consumers are on the Internet whenever and wherever they can. Consumers have endless options to consume content across multiple mobile devices, whether it’s social media, entertainment, gaming, sports, or news. Because consumers’ attention and focus is often hard to capture, advertisers must have a deep understanding of how consumers behave on mobile devices in order to reach them. There are three key traits that make up today’s mobile consumer: cross-device, always-on, and multitasking.

Cross-device usage  

A cross-device user is a consumer who employs multiple devices to access the Internet, apps, and services throughout the day, and it’s quickly becoming the new norm. As apps and services aim to become available on all platforms and devices, it’s crucial for advertisers to understand who these cross-device consumer are and where they spend their time and attention so campaign and ad spend can be prioritized. For example, millennial women are some of the most cross-device consumers around, especially compared to their male counterparts. Nearly a third (30 percent) of women ages 26-35 own at least three devices, compared to just 11 percent of their male peers. When it comes to men, 73 percent of those aged 26-35 own two devices, while only 48 percent of men in the 36-45 age range own two devices. However, device ownership changes quickly with consumer dage: 39 percent of men ages 36-45 own three devices, demonstrating a strong correlation with male age and number of devices. Advertisers should keep these nuances in mind, especially when targeting based on gender and age group.

Always-on 

Cross-device usage patterns indicate we’ve come a long way from viewing a weekly TV show. Tablets, smartphones, and PCs give today’s audience the ability to view content on multiple channels and devices and also on a 24/7 basis. The digital world isn’t just mobile-first, it’s mobile-all-the-time. The explosion of mobile devices has decreased the importance of specific locations for media consumption or advertising, because consumers can use  a multitude of screens to maintain a consistent connection to their social networks, media and entertainment, games, news, etc. It is all about pervasive, ubiquitous, mobile-centric computing. Advertisers must recognize that consumer behavior is now shaped by mobile devices and their continuous access to them. Using a mobile device could even be considered a new pastime, with the average consumer unlocking their smartphone more than 50 times a day. 

Multi-tasking 

Consumers are busier and more distracted than before, so capturing their attention has become a game of cat and mouse for advertisers. The average American adult (aged 18 and above) spends nearly 220 collective hours per month online on smartphones, tablets, and PCs, , which might seem like a wide net, but successful advertising lies in breaking down what consumers are viewing on each device and when. In this case, multi-app sessions (which involve at least seven transitions between apps) are referred to as “multitasking sessions,” and consumers now engage in dozens of those sessions per day. Advertisers that lack insight into how (and which) consumers interact with devices and services, or the role and relevance of apps in today’s clickstreams, are not properly equipped to make crucial decisions around campaign planning, media mix modeling, strategic partnerships, or ad spend. Understanding the interaction and cooperative dynamics between apps—and the evolution of in-app usage—will become increasingly critical for driving growth and monetization.

Adapting to evolving consumer behavior presents a significant opportunity for the advertisement industry to refine their target audiences and re-evaluate their approach to traditional campaign development. As an industry, we can’t just rely on old audience metrics built when consumers only did one thing at a time. That’s because understanding consumer behavior is more complex than ever as multi-tasking, device usage, and cross-device behavior are officially the new normal.

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