The Hyper-Connected, Mobile Audience Will Force Publishers to Act

By Matthew Yorke
07/22/2013

I have written in previous minsider columns about the rise of social media and its impact on marketing, as programs move from carefully crafted campaigns and timelines to an era of real- time marketing and instantaneous feedback. I have also written about mobile, the rise of smartphones and tablets and the sense of frustration that the reality of massive adoption has not matched the hype about advertising on mobile devices.

In both instances, the common thread is the sense of the always on, always connected consumer and the real enabler of that is the inexorable rise of mobile device use. On July 10, our sister company at IDG, IDC, reported a continuing decline in PC shipments in the second quarter compared to the same period last year. Tablets were cited as one of the reasons for the PC decline that stretches a record five straight quarters.

Predicting Major Changes to Affect Us All
At IDC, analysts have coined a phrase which captures what is happening in the technology market. The 3rd platform is driving growth. Of course, this is upending industries as new entrants built on a 3rd platform approach quickly gain market share and profit from established organizations tied to a 2nd platform model of doing business. The 2nd platform has grown for almost 30 years based on the era of personal computing and the Internet.

IDC predicts the 3rd platform will power overall growth in the tech market for the next 20 years or so. It will define how organizations operate, interact with prospects and customers, build products and services, and generate the most revenue. The 3rd platform is built on mobile devices, cloud services, social technologies and big data. Mobile is perhaps the most visible trend for publishers and marketers and one of the most challenging.

Look Beyond Your Borders’¨
When considering the scale of smart mobile devices, it is helpful to look past the meeting room or airport lounge to emerging markets. Today, approximately a tenth of Web traffic worldwide is on a mobile phone with the emerging markets leading the way. India adds one million mobile subscribers every month and already more than 50% of its Internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Last year, China’s Internet population grew by more than the population of Spain, but the number of people accessing the Internet via a PC actually declined as mobile Internet users generated 75% of the traffic. At IDG Communications, mobile Internet traffic to our media sites ranges from 15% -50%, depending on the region but our average is closer to 20% and growing every quarter.

Tech-Savvy Mobile Users Point the Way
Taking a look at both consumers and business technology buyers and how they use mobile smart devices in their daily lives provides many clues about how the media business will look in the next couple of years.

In IDG Global Solutions (IGS) research conducted last spring across 43 countries, participants told us:

  • 83% own a smartphone.
  • 54% own a tablet, making tablets the fastest growing technology ever. So much so that IDC predicts tablet shipments will increase this year by 59% to 229 million units and by 2015 will overtake PCs in total shipments!
  • 47% plan on purchasing a tablet within the next 12 months.
  • 20% use tablets as their primary computer. The numbers are more telling in emerging markets: 43% in Middle East and 31% in Latin America use tablets instead of PCs.

The 26, 601 online survey respondents are readers of IDG tech media sites so they are key indicators of the future.

With the rise of BYOD (bring your own device) to work, the lines between work and personal life are just about erased. Indeed, the IGS research shows many users talk about work as an activity rather than a destination based on an IGS survey last year:

  • 57% access tech content after business hours.
  • 48% access tech content on weekends.
  • 42% access content during the work day.

Media + Marketers Reach the Mobilized
As users become more dependent on mobile devices, they expect websites to be valuable and optimized. If you provide an enjoyable experience, readers will respond. Globally, this year’s IGS research found that 73% made a purchase with a tablet and 56% bought with a smartphone. And, one-third of the smartphone devoted clicked or interacted with an ad, while almost 21% did the same with a tablet. The survey results should erase some of the doubt around mobile ads for both marketers and publishers.

As another early indicator of the future, look to the emerging markets to better understand the impact of the 3rd Platform, and more specifically, how mobile will change the presentation and interaction with media and advertising. Very soon, we will be living in a mobile-centric world as IDC predicts that within three years 90% of Internet activity will come from mobile devices.

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