When Is Using A Cellphone Not Mobile Usage?

When is using a cellphone not mobile usage? When we forget about the distinction between a mobile ad impression and consumer mobility as behavior.

As the penetration of mobile devices reaches near saturation in America, quantitative data alone becomes an inadequate guide as to how to target consumers when and where they have intent to purchase. Advertisers seek newer media formats for reaching consumers, with a renewed emphasis on qualitative data. 

With sea change about in data use and media decisions, reaching the right consumer in the right context at the right time is still paramount to driving real business growth.

Some of those new media have actually been hiding in plain sight, among them video advertising at fuel stations and, particularly so, in summer. 

According to Pew, some 70% of mobile device usage now takes place in the home with 99% of consumers using devices there every week. Additionally, the two next most frequent places of weekly use are “in transit” (82%) and at work (69%), neither of which may involve a “ready to purchase” context. 



These are not surprising research findings, but they highlight the need for more creative and lateral thinking from marketers. That’s particularly so when you realize mobile video consumers are most often watching at home, according to recent research by the Streaming Video Alliance — and those that do watch on the go are 17+% more likely to skip mobile video ads, per Magna and IPG Media Lab. This all makes it even harder for traditional advertising media to reach consumers during the summer months when we’re leading even more active lives.

For advertisers, the situation will get worse next quarter thanks to external factors. Chief among them is the continuing demise in the audience numbers watching more traditional television, which is subject to an even more dramatic seasonal decline in summer.

There is also real pressure on air-time as we contemplate a fall season full of political advertising ahead of the November midterms. Given the requirement for media outlets to squeeze in as much on-air political balance as possible, the cost of other airtime soars, creating a very real trickle-down effect into the summer months. Non-political advertisers will seek better value ahead of September and October.

Increased demand inevitably leads to higher costs — particularly in digital budgets, where 60% of the spend is now in video, according to IAB. These increases come despite evidence that consumers are not spending more total time with video and that millennial consumption of television continues its inexorable decline. What’s more, it is easier today for consumers to curate their own content without recourse to an  advertiser-funded media now that free, owned and subscription media are all stealing the other’s lunch.

Where to find consumers with both the time and, importantly, the disposition to engage with brand content and advertising in the summer months, preferably near a point of purchase? The fuel station is a previously overlooked, but relatively obvious, media location. The weekly or twice-weekly fill-up is often a crucial few moments ahead of a grocery or other shopping trip, or journey to an event, QSR stop, picnic or cookout, the beach or any other summer activity.

Brands need to be prepared for the challenges the summer will inevitably bring, whether they’re political or behavioral, or the host of better-known issues like brand safety, fraud or even GDPR; these things will have an impact. The only question you should be asking is, what are you doing to mitigate them? And where is there previously untapped opportunity to find real impact and engagement amongst all the disruption?

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