Mobile-First, Then Digital-First -- How 2016 Transitions Into 2017

So this year seems to be officially agreed upon as the time when the country became mobile-first. Some businesses might have noticed this had already happened for them, but as a whole, it's now a fact of life across the country. You may now officially enjoy a wry smile and make a note to yourself that after many nominations were repeatedly cited in the "this is the year of the mobile"competition, it turned out to be 2016.

However, there is a new development and perhaps an older observation to come out of the latest figures from eMarketer. First the big news, which may be missed as we trumpet a mobile-first era, is that digital media overtakes traditional media at the start of 2017. It didn't quite happen in 2016, the researchers suggest after revising their figures -- but they predict we're on the cusp of it. Come early 2017, most probably January, the UK will experience the first time that more attention is paid to digital channels than their traditional counterparts. 

it's a very good point to mention, of course, that as we talk about a mobile-first world, television has more attention right here and now than mobile. Yes, that's right. Digital marketers quite rightly get very excited about mobile, but sometimes you have to keep your feet on the ground. The old "box" in the corner of the living room accounts for around a third of all the media we consume in the UK. That makes it larger than desktop and laptop or mobile, when considered individually, although when the digital channels are combined they are larger. Digital is just under a half of total media consumption, and its poised to break through in a a couple of months.

One point worth remembering with television, however, is the rise of Netflix. I have no data to back this up, other than my own experience, but we're watching at least as much content on ad-free Netflix each evening as we do satellite television. So that's a thought worth parking right there as we cast our minds forward in to 2017. Another one to add to that is we get many recommendations from younger Millennial couples on what they're watching and for whom, it appears, Netflix and television are pretty much one and the same. 

That aside, can the gurus who labelled every year up until now as the "year of the mobile" please form a circle and kick each other's behinds? It's just about around now that we are mobile-first in the UK -- but equally as important, although somehow unreported, that we're about to become a digital-first country.  

This column was previously published in the London Blog on November 11, 2016.

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