The Myth Of The ‘First Screen’

What if advertisers no longer had the power to choose which screen was the first, second or third? Or, better yet, what if it didn’t matter? What if the first screen became the screen that is in front of you—whatever the content, context, time or event?

In this new world of digital, that’s exactly what is happening. I have a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old at home and I can tell you without pause that these mobile-savvy young consumers are among the forces creating the most disruptive advertising market we’ve ever seen. They live and breathe the app economy and they can tell you, if you can pull them away from their mobile device, in no uncertain terms that mobile is transforming everything—from communications to content to engagement.

Adweek’s recent article on “The Tween Machine” summed it up–this new powerful consumer does not want to be advertised to—they want to be engaged. “Today’s tweens demand a more personal, more tactile, truly up-close-and-in-person connection to their favorite brands.” There is no screen more personal or engaging, and no screen that provides a more stunning canvas than the mobile screen. Be it a smartphone, a gaming device or a tablet, from tweens to boomers, we are all engaging via mobile.

Mobile usage is happening all day, every day. InsightExpress provided us some data a few months ago that stated that 40% of mobile usage happens inside the home—that’s a staggering figure for those who believe that the only value mobile provides is within store aisles.

We see the traffic on our platform begin to climb around 5 a.m. ET and continue through prime time on the west coast of the U.S. This solid traffic pattern tells us several things. First, consumers are using their devices from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep. Second, these devices are again being used at home, likely in tandem or instead of other screens at various times of the day. And third, some of this high mobile usage is happening while consumers are on the move—in their cars, at workplaces, running errands or outside activities, and again in their homes in the evenings.

In April, we released a study around mobile behavior during March Madness. As part of the study, we partnered with the IAB to commission a Harris survey, and we married the results with consumer data from our own platform. According to the survey, 79% of NCAA Tournament fans used their smartphones and tablets to follow the tournament, and for respondents between the ages of 18-24, an astounding 91% used their device to stay connected, play-by-play.

Does this mean mobile is the first or second screen? The reality is that what you label it doesn’t really matter—the point is that it’s the only advertising medium available continuously for advertisers. This means that advertisers can use mobile to activate other forms of media, such as TV and out-of-home, or it can be a key device to drive tune-in, product research, or immediate purchase. Mobile leverages location to help pinpoint the optimal ways to reach, engage and then measure the impact of campaigns.

Logically we know that advertising dollars should follow consumer time spent on media. So the final question is—if consumers are using mobile at all times of day and in all locations, why wouldn’t advertisers use their under-performing local media dollars in traditional ad channels like radio and print, and allocate these dollars toward the only advertising medium that can be personalized, that is inherently locally-focused, that cannot be fast-forwarded, and that had been proven time and time again to drive true engagement?

We’ve seen continuous increases in both mobile budgets and the number of brands doubling down on the mobile platform year over year. There’s a reason for that. On mobile, there is no time displacement from content; therefore, TV advertisers can use their same ad campaign objectives, but they can also tap into the interactive functionality and pervasiveness of the mobile device to engage consumers before, during and/or after their TV ads run.

In this fast-evolving app economy, the first screen is the one the consumer chooses, and it is constantly changing. It is likely that as advertisers continue to evaluate their traditional local spend, they will increasingly be more comfortable reimagining the engagement possibilities with mobile, and with that knowledge, advertisers will focus on ensuring they have their competitive share of all first screens.

[via Forbes]

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