Commentary

Your Mobile Device, Your TV Remote: Companions Or Frenemies?

These days, if you stick close to home, your mobile phone is there as well -- and probably still a companion while you’re watching TV.

Essentially, your key handhelds, mobile and TV remote, could be friends -- or maybe frenemies?

Here’s some data that might put things in perspective.

One 2019 estimate by Mary Meeker, internet trend analyst and venture capitalist, said roughly 90% of Americans keep a phone close by while watching TV. Also Americans spend an average of 3.6 hours on their phones and/or tablets every day, slightly higher than 3.3 hours tracked in 2018.

Meeker said 71% of those TV watchers with phones are looking up related TV program content, and 41% are messaging friends or family.

Multitasking while watching TV isn’t new -- and can be good news for TV producers and content providers, even in a pandemic.  We’re guessing these viewer behaviors haven’t changed much with COVID-19 (or maybe increased).

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All this occurs while overall mobile ad spending continues to grow -- though not as much as previously expected. A recent eMarketer projection had mobile advertising up 4.8% (or $4.22 billion) to $91.52 billion in 2020. A previous pre-COVID projection was that it would grow 20% to $105.34 billion.

We don’t have accurate data as to what piece of this might be associated with just multitasking TV watching and mobile phone use. We assume there would be a similar gains.

So linking near real-time mobile usage to TV watching --- like going to a company’s website for product/service information after seeing a TV commercial (mostly live TV, we’re guessing ) --  is still important.

But remember tons of research also show that any multitasking has limitations and means less productivity overall.

So marketers should just remember that the mobile phone and TV remote really aren’t supporting companions. Together, they’re acting more like frat boys out for a night on the town.

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