This Time It IS Personal: Mobile Expectation And Risk Run High

The great “mobile migration” of 2013 is fast becoming the mobile expectation of 2014. For the last couple of years, we have all had our hair blown back by the sheer velocity of consumer’s flocking to devices. At first it seemed to complement desktop use, but it's clear now that in many segments, device screens are fully replacing old habits of digital consumption. A new set of behaviors, more diverse and challenging to target than ever, have emerged.

But more than simply following users onto diverse screens, brands and publishers now have to contend with higher expectations. As users embraced personal devices as the most convenient and comfortable ways to access their and others’ information, they also began taking it all more personally, I believe.

To wit, a new analysis of behaviors of 470 consumers and a survey of many more from Salesforce’s ExactTarget show 85% now saying these devices are a central part of their lives. They now spend on average 3.3 hours a day with handsets and another 3.1 hours with tablets.  Almost all of these users (83%) say they want a seamless experience across screens. But a majority (54%) say that this isn’t the case right now. In fact, there is considerable dissatisfaction with the state of brand presence on mobile. 41% of consumers who don’t opt in to text messages from advertisers say it is because brands are not providing meaningful content.



Social media execution from brands is hit or miss. Only 53% say they even bothered following a brand from a mobile device in the last six months. And 43% of consumers say that brands are not providing meaningful content on these channels anyway.

As companies like Starbucks, Target, and Staples have already discovered, there is still a tech halo around companies that get it right. ExactTarget finds that 68% consider a brand being seen as a technology leader as somewhat or very important. But the practical aspects of this leadership are even more valuable, with 91%  saying that having access to tech leaders' content any way they want it is important to them. In fact, 56% said universal access to this content is very important.

For all the effort being put on extending the Web onto mobile phones, they are still at their core one-to-one communication devices. 91% of users access their email on smartphones at least once a day, followed closely by 90% who use text messaging. Internet searching is done daily by 76%, but almost as many (75%) are social networking.

Of special note to advertisers is that the so-called “second screen” behavior is quite real, with 70% now saying they use their smartphone while in front of a TV, as do 64% of tablet users. The key part of this behavior is that is not occasional but daily. This is as important a statistic as one can imagine. If it is correct, and ExactTarget was using in part actual behavioral data, then prime time is indeed a two-screen experience.

But that also means that prime time, like everything else involving the smartphone and tablet, is also capable of being a more personalized experience. When we say that devices make digital media more “personal,” we have to take that idea seriously on a number of levels. I think people also take content, formatting and convenience more “personally,” in that their response to bad form and poor service is heightened. Most people are accessing this information at a moment of inspiration or need. They are interrupting the usual flow of things to consult that personal screen. Disappointing them at that moment probably has greater consequence than a wonky Web site. We may come to find that disappointment with a brand’s mobile execution is closer to the frustration consumers feel with a human salesperson who just wasted their time or left them with a bad experience.

This time it really is personal.   

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