Hold the Phone: Mobile Overtakes Desktop

29/09/2017

Another statistical landmark was passed this month, with eMarketer reporting that UK adults now spend more time browsing per day on a mobile device, compared to on a desktop and/or laptop.

This is significant as it also correlates with the growth in adspend within digital, where mobile has been a catalyst for the increasing investment. With advertisers already willing to pour their budgets into this area, it becomes more important to measure performance against more traditional media channels.

As mobile budgets increase, pressure is being put on agencies to justify these spends through more accurate tracking and reporting. Despite growing investment in buying technology and creative formats, it’s still much more difficult to track a user journey when it includes mobile, as opposed to on desktop where advertisers are still seeing the majority of conversions – for now.

Cross-device tracking becomes imperative when user behaviour switches to spending longer on mobile. The problem the industry has at the moment is the gap in the measurement and understanding of a user journey. If conversion rates are still being measured, in the main, on a last device basis, then of course mobile will continue to be questioned for its inefficiency against desktop. Until more investment is made in understanding how consumers use multiple devices, there is the possibility that advertisers won’t be attributing their spend correctly and under-invest in areas should be more important.

It’s not just cross-device tracking that’s important to improve though. Ad verification has been a key industry topic over the last 12 months, with advertisers becoming more aware of issues and forcing transparency from agencies and suppliers. Technology in this space began on desktop and mobile has slowly tried catching up, but there are still barriers in the way. Traditionally, digital tracking has been focused on cookies, which are difficult to track across mobile, especially in-app. In an industry where cookies have become the norm for digital tracking, it takes time for new tracking systems to be adopted and for technology partners, especially within verification, to keep up with the trend of user behaviour.

For advertisers, there is also a need for an honest approach to evaluating their brand’s mobile experience. Google report that 53% of consumers abort their journey if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Developing a mobile strategy that puts the experience first is integral to advertising success. If consumers spend more time on mobile and an advertising plan is in place to take advantage, a poor mobile site or app will make the media look worse and have a negative effect to that consumer. There has already been a shift to the improved, evolution of mobile web, through new technology such as AMP and progressive web applications.

We were warned of the year of mobile a long time ago, the trend doesn’t look likely to stop and it’s arguably a consumer’s most important screen. The brand experience on a mobile device should be as good as every other touchpoint, consumers are spending more time browsing, but they’re tired of waiting.

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