A Case For More Mobile Advertising

Most likely, the television is no longer the dominant screen in your target audience’s household. A comprehensive new study by Yahoo Advertising, reported by Justin Lafferty, finds that not only is mobile use on the rise (while TV is declining), but mobile ads achieve a more emotional response than traditional television spots.



The study found that in 2015, 53% of mobile phone users all over the world were mobile Internet users, the first time that mark has risen above 50%. Nearly 3 out of 5 people in the U.S. used a smartphone to access the Internet, and smartphone adoption rates in the U.S. are growing by 11.4% (now at 190.5 million).

However, Yahoo cited an eMarketer study, showing that while the average daily time spent on mobile has grown 47% (from two hours and 15 minutes to 3:18), computer has dipped 4% and television has declined 12%. Yet, TV still outpaces digital on ad spend, 41% to 34%.

An increasing amount of people are using smartphones (and laptops) as they’re watching TV. Citing Nielsen, the study found that both Gen X’ers and Millennials agree they’re using a laptop while watching television, and a few said they multitask on all three devices, smartphone, laptop and TV.

MultiTaskers Use of Media


Full Sample


Gen X’ers

TV + Laptop




TV + Phone




Phone + Laptop




All three




Source: Yahoo/Nielsen, January 2016

Both Millennials and Gen X’ers tend to multitask more during primetime TV (7 pm to 10 pm) says the report, with Millennials switching devices 8.7 times per hour and Gen X’ers switching devices 9.2 times per hour.

The report showed some differences in how these two age groups are served ads, and how they react to them. Overall, the study found that mobile ads achieve a more emotional response than television commercials, and that the most ad-bombarded group (Millennials) is also the group most responsive to advertising.

Reaction to Served Ads (% of Group)




Share of total ad exposure



Emotional response to TV ads



Emotional response to Smartphone ads



Source: Yahoo, January 2016

According to the report, advertising during primetime actually makes people more responsive to ads. Among Millennials, Yahoo saw a 13% lift in emotional response to mobile ads among multitaskers, and 6% for Gen X multitaskers. Even though the television is the most-watched screen, many people are paying more attention to their computer or phone as the show plays.

Device Receiving Primary Attention During Primetime(TV used “most;” Smartphones receive highest amount of “primary” attention)

Device “touched”

% Used As Primary Device







Source: Source: Yahoo, January 2016 (e.g. 94% of the time that a Smartphone is being touched during those hours, it is being used as the primary device)

The report suggests what marketers need to know about reaching these multitaskers: Mobile apps continue to grow media influence. And, as phablet penetration increases, expect this to alter behavior considerably among younger demographics.

The Lafferty report may be found here for additional information.



1 comment about "A Case For More Mobile Advertising".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 13, 2016 at 11:06 a.m.

    Jack, the Lafferty report doesn't explain how the "findings" were obtained. If they are based simply on what a sample of people said about their general reaction to ads it's almost a given that mobile would "win"over TV in such a study. However one wonders what a study of people who used their smartphones under normal conditions would show as regards their ability to prove that they watched and responded to specific video ads that were also measured in a "linear" viewing context. To begin with, you would have to discount half of the mobile "audience" as unable to see the ads, wouldn't you. Or shall we just assume 100% ad visibility for mobile?

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