Which came first, the mobile device or the television? OK, that one is easy — but which comes first now — the mobile device or the television?
The answer is probably television, but it’s not quite as obvious, is it? Television is the dominant screen for most consumers today, but signs are growing that the mobile screen might well supercede it at some point.
We will soon have a far better understanding of mobile users and how they can be segmented, thanks to initiatives by media measurement companies, two of which were fodder for discussion just this week.
One is from Nielsen, which is developing software to measure viewing on the mobile screen.
Syncbak, a company that supports local television stations’ live streaming to mobile devices, has successfully tested this software, Re/code reported on Monday.
Later this year, broadcasters will begin to measure local TV viewing on smartphones and tablets as part of a program’s ratings, provided it is the same program and the same ads run on the Internet version as appear on live TV, it also said.
Another development came from mobile-app measurement and advertising provider Flurry. It announced it is partnering with Research Now to create what it claims will be the largest panel database of mobile users, which will then be sold to marketers. Flurry will build this database using Research Now’s survey tool, ADimension.
“Brand advertisers have shown reluctance to invest in mobile, because they don’t have effective targeting solutions like they do they on the Web,” Sean Galligan, vice president of sales and business development for Flurry, told AdAge, which reported the partnership. “We can allow you to target like never before.”
TV Still Reigns
To be sure, TV dominates viewers’ attention today.
Most of the respondents to a recent TiVo survey said they multitasked while watching TV, but 76 percent said their primary focus actually was on the TV. Participants in the survey, which was conducted in January 2014, included TiVo subscribers, nonsubscribers and social media users.
Close to half the TiVo users surveyed — and slightly more than one-third of non-TiVo users — indicated that their attention was only on TV and nothing else. Only about one in four respondents said they used a smartphone when they watched TV.
It may be that TV always will be the dominant screen, or the “first screen,” for certain types of content — the local news, for example, or grainy old black-and-white movies that air on Sunday afternoons.
Getting Better at Targeting
Still, marketers will have to continue to consider the mobile screen when developing their strategies — including ad budgets, payment options and service channels. They also will have to learn to target “second screeners” (we will assume for now they are mobile device users and not TV watchers) more effectively, and with more sophistication than they do now.
Hashtags shown during TV shows tend to annoy most viewers, the TiVo survey established. Specifically, 68 percent of respondents who were TiVo users said they noticed TV hashtags. Sixty-three percent of that number said they didn’t like them. Only 3 percent actually liked seeing hashtags.
Marketers and brands that may be pooh-poohing the idea that mobile will ever top TV for consumers’ attention might want to examine recent history in a comparable medium: the desktop versus the mobile device. Clearly, the desktop is losing ground to mobile users, as recent figures from eMarketer indicate.
Desktop search in the U.S. will significantly decline this year as paid clicks on Google shift toward mobile devices, it reported.
U.S. mobile search ad spending grew 120.8 percent last year, eMarketer said, compared to a 2.3 percent uptick for desktop.
Mobile first is a viable model outside the U.S., especially among younger consumers, who tend to use handsets as their primary tool for connectivity, reported MidiaPost, citing data from Global Web Index.
If it can happen in, say, Japan or Europe, it can happen in the U.S. as well.