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Marketers Home In on New Mobile Ad Opportunities

Marketers Home In on New Mobile Ad Opportunities

Marketers are always hungry for new advertising possibilities, and mobile devices hooked up to the Web are the new frontier. Of particular interest are the findings of research firms like Nielsen and In-Stat, which are busy studying consumer habits. One notable recent finding is that consumers aren't necessarily mobile when they're using their mobile gadgets. They're more likely watching TV or reading in bed.

By Rob Spiegel E-Commerce Times ECT News Network
05/23/11 12:37 PM PT

Mobile-connected devices allow users to browse where desktop computers can't go, thus increasing the amount of online connectivity for many consumers. This could make a major difference in how marketers choose to reach consumers online.

A Nielson report released last week details just how customers use their tablets, smartphone and e-readers -- information that's likely to illuminate prospects for advertisers. The firm surveyed 12,000 users and tabulated their responses by device type.

Where and When

Browsing while watching TV was common. Seventy percent of tablet owners and 68 percent of smartphone owners said they used their devices while watching TV, compared with 35 percent of e-reader users.

Sixty one percent of e-reader owners used the device in bed compared with 57 percent of tablet owners and 51 percent of smartphone owners.

Nielson also identified how much time device owners spend in various situations. Tablet owners said 30 percent of their time was spent using the device while watching TV compared to 21 percent lying in bed.

Smartphone owners said that 20 percent of device use occurs while watching TV and 11 percent lying in bed.

E-reader owners stated 15 percent of their device use was during TV watching, while 37 percent was in bed.

Neilsen did not respond to the E-Commerce Times' request for comments by press time.

Easier to Stay Connected

Just as many advertising doors are closing -- particularly on TV, the increase in mobile connectivity is opening new ones.

"With tablets and cellphones, marketers are reaching multiple, very broad venues for pitching their products and hawking their wares," Laura DiDio, principal analyst at ITIC, told the E-Commerce Times. "People are using the tablets and notebooks to watch videos and television. Their lives are no further away than the palm of their hands."

Many marketers see significant new advertising possibilities in terms of how they can engage consumers using mobile-connected devices. Advanced integrated functionality promises new ways to insert their messages into consumers' actual activities.

"We're seeing a changing dynamic. It's a very quick and abrupt change in how you can reach consumers," said DiDio.You use cell phones and tablets for everything -- personal and business -- and you have all these integrated applications. The marketers who can integrate their message to the masses have the best chance of picking up new customers."

Marketers are in a new race to connect on a deeper level with these super-connected consumers who have Internet access throughout their day, inside and outside the home -- especially younger consumers who have grown used to being connected and have no resistance to buying online.

"The marketers are falling all over themselves to win the hearts, minds and attention of the consumer-buying public on cellphones and tablets," said DiDio. "It's the very young audience, and they're more impulsive. They can now reach the 15-and-under group, which is a new group who love to buy online."

Mobility Stays Home

Although tablets are very portable, many owners use them primarily in the household. While these devices are mobile, the consumers themselves aren't necessarily mobile when they use them.

"I think we are always surprised in our surveys on how much of the use of a tablet or smartphone in actually in the home," Allen Nogee, principal analyst for wireless technology at In-Stat, told the E-Commerce Times. "Based on our surveys for of a U.S.-based audience, over 70 percent of tablet users' use is in the home."

If a TV ad and a mobile device ad are synchronized, it could help advertisers stand out in a sea of endless messages. Adding interactivity between the TV and the smartphone could add yet another layer of immersion.

"This largely changes the way advertisers were attempting to reach users of these devices," said Nogee. "Much of the use of advertising to these devices has been rooted in location. You walk by a store and an ad for that store pops up, but if people are using these devices mainly at home, while watching TV, advertisers may need to sync tablet and smartphone ads to ads that are also running on TV, to enhance the effect of those ads running on TV."

The Neilsen results ran parallel to an In-Stat survey, Nogee pointed out, confirming In-Stat's findings regarding cellphone and tablet use. "Our surveys say that most people use their tablets and phones for Internet browsing, like reading the news, playing games or reading email."

Tablets may become the next must-have tool in the American home. Americans love their smartphones and computers, and tablets bridge the functionality of the two.

"Currently, only a small number of households have tablets, despite all the hoopla, but the number is growing, and we feel that these devices will play an important part in our entertainment," said Nogee.

"In effect, these devices really fit with our lifestyle. For younger 'multitaskers,' a tablet allows a user to write email, or check sports stats, or watch replay videos of shows they are watching on TV," he suggested. "For older generations, perhaps they allow one spouse to read a book or read news while the other sleeps in bed."


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