Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mobile Media Usage Soars, Opens New Vistas for Marketers

One out of every seven minutes of media consumption today takes place via mobile devices, according to new research from IPG's Universal McCann and AOL.

And with mobile usage expected to grow by 60 percent over the next two years, marketers must devise appropriate ways to communicate about their brands with mobile users or they risk missing out on huge opportunities.

With 63 million mobile Web users in the U.S. -- 19 million of whom access the Internet on a weekly basis -- Stuart Rodnick, senior director of strategic insights at AOL, said that mobile is leading a "social transformation."

The study, which polled 1,800 mobile users over the fourth quarter of last year and first quarter of 2009, found that 80 percent of smart-phone users are satisfied using the quality of the Internet on their mobile devices. Essentially those consumers are saying, "My life is better now," said Rodnick.

Ninety-five percent of the respondents said they used mobile media to fill downtime; 82 percent said they use it at work; 81 percent while shopping; 80 percent at home; and 65 percent while commuting to their jobs.

That usage "creates an unprecedented opportunity for marketers to transition with consumers as they move from activity to activity throughout the day," the study concludes.

Among specific activities, 73 percent of respondents reported searching for maps and directions while 55 percent said they participated in social networking or sought out restaurant and movie listings or reviews. Forty-four percent reported seeking national news and information. "It's basically a guide to leisure life," said Rodnick.

According to Graeme Hutton, director of consumer insights at UM, a key finding of the research was the "media-meshing" nature of mobile. "It's not a stand-alone media source," he said, noting that 77 percent of those polled in the research said they use TV and mobile at the same time to enhance the overall media-consumption experience.

The research also showed that 55 percent of mobile users follow brands across multiple media while 56 percent said they have been driven to mobile from other media. Conversely, 42 percent said they have been driven from mobile to other media.

"Brands have a compelling opportunity to engage consumers in mobile," said Hutton, noting that 27 percent responded that they were "completely focused" when using mobile, slightly lower than the 33 percent who reported being completely focused when surfing the Web on computers, but higher than many traditional media such as TV, newspapers and magazines (all less than 20 percent) and radio (6 percent).

Mobile users are surprisingly accepting of advertising, said Hutton, noting that 38 percent of respondents said they had taken action based on mobile ads. Almost 30 percent said mobile ads had led them to share information, while 22 percent said mobile ads had influenced a purchase decision.

"Mobile is a separate channel" that allows marketers to talk to consumers wherever they go, said Hutton. But it's critical, he said, "to let the consumer lead and place the relationship alongside of it."