Mobile phone obsession is getting so out of control that families are overwhelmingly worried about it. Sixty-eight percent of parents and households recently queried in a survey say this increasing phenomenon disturbs them, while fewer and fewer homes have desktop computers. Increasingly mobile is taking over, with profound and powerful implications for programmatic advertising.
According to the Influence Central 2016 Digital Trends Study, which surveyed 500 women early this year with an online questionnaire, the new domination of mobile devices means families are abandoning key elements of family and other media time, as immersion in cellphone interaction replaces every form of family fun.
What does this mean for programmatic advertising? Everything, considering how fast these trends are taking over. We see a clear path to the death of the desktop computer. (There is also a tendency away from movie going. Fifty-seven percent of families in 2016 say they go to theaters less often in this era of streaming and on-demand movies. Half said they go to bookstores and libraries less often. Forget actually reading books.)
Gradually, people are abandoning every other form of media for mobile and most media is going to be delivered via mobile and streaming video TV. And all advertising will be selected programmatically. (Publicis’ Zenith unit has just forecast that mobile Internet advertising will overtake desktop in 2017.) Use of Netflix for content streaming has exploded, with the Influence Central study reporting family use now at up to 75% in 2016, compared to 44% in a survey in 2012.
Their Whole Lives Are Online
According to Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central, many young Americans today “would prefer if their devices were implanted.” Their whole lives are online. She calls such people “technology natives,” those who grew up with this technology and have it ingrained in their psyche. Traditional forms of media are not traditional to them and it’s unlikely they will ever change their mobile dependency.
A key element in this “Generation Z” technology trend is a distrust of advertising, DeBroff opines. “A lot of people don’t like traditional advertising. They consider themselves discerning, which is why ad blocking is so big now.”
At a recent family wedding in New Orleans, the mobile obsession was so dominant, one couldn’t miss it. Many attendees spent the entire wedding ceremony taking pictures on their mobile devices rather than actually watching what was going on. Snapchat pictures flew back and forth and there was much talk about picture sharing. During a walk through Audubon Park, participants used devices and GPS constantly. Walkers spent more time looking at their screens than the flamingoes in the park.
A Godsend To Marketers
Should we worry about all this? Stacy DeBroff says she does.“Embracing technology and mobile devices like this becomes a Trojan Horse; it’s alienating,” she observes.
But given how completely immersion has taken over, it’s a godsend to marketers. We can say without fear of contradiction that at no time in the history of the world has any media format been so all-encompassing and ubiquitous. As marketers get better at programmatic targeting and use of cleverly disguised native advertising grows, Generation Z will be exposed to more ad messages than any comparable previous group of young people. Whether they know it or not.
One amusing finding from Influence Central: “Almost 50% of respondents report that their children always/most of the time/sometimes view multiple screens at once.” Never in previous history have marketers ever had the chance to hit kids with several ads at once. Now they do. “Today’s digital technology has transformed the typical American home into a Digital Rec Room,” Influence Central states — and a marketer’s paradise.