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Analyst Angle: Why looking at mobile displays is important to advertisers

With people checking their smartphones more than 100 times per day, it’s no wonder advertising for mobile devices is going through the roof

How much time do you spend each day looking at an electronic display? I suspect it’s a lot longer than you first imagine. Typically, you think of watching TV as where you spend the most time watching an electronic display. But, you likely have a computer (desktop, laptop) at home and one at work as well as a tablet and a smartphone in which you spend a lot of time watching as well.
Now, think about how much time you spending looking at all of these displays. While it’s likely that you spend a few hours a day watching your largest display – your TV – perhaps mostly in the evening, the total number of times you look at your smartphone could be actually more important to advertisers than ads displayed while you are watching TV. You don’t realize it because you only look at your smartphone typically in small doses.
The time spent looking at smartphone screens may vary largely, but here’s a quick estimate: each time you look at your smartphone takes on average 15 to 20 seconds. Sometimes it is more (reading an email, a document or web page) and sometimes it is less (reading an alert or short text message).
Now, let’s say you look at your smartphone an average of five to six times per hour. Sometimes, you look more frequently and sometimes you look less frequently. Over a 16-hour day, you’d therefore look at your smartphone for a total of: six times per hour x 16 hours per day x 20 seconds per view, which is a total of 96 views per day x 20 seconds per view, which equals 1,920 seconds per day or 32 minutes per day.
Now, let’s add in a reasonable average for the screen times for TV, laptop and tablet:
• TV = Two hours with only a few views.
• Laptop = Four hours with many views.
• Tablet = One hour with many views.
• Smartphone = 30 minutes with an average of 96 views with many over 100.
• Total = 7.5 hours.
That gives you an idea of how much time each of us is spending looking a digital screens on average each day. And, this total time tees up why these screens are the focus for so much advertising. On your TV, advertising is done via broadcast: one message sent to the entire audience. However, advertisers really do not know who is watching which ads.
Regarding laptops, tablets and smartphones, advertisers can determine who looked at the ad and whether the user took action to buy the product or requested more information. That is why digital advertising is so much more beneficial than broadcast advertising where you do not know who looked at your ad.
Smartphones have become so important for advertising because of the user is looking at them an average of 96 times each day, with many checking information more than 100 times per day, particularly those who are active on Facebook. And, they are spending 30 dedicated minutes looking at them. There are many places in which advertising can be inserted in the mobile app that will not ruin the user experience.
If I were in charge of advertising a product, I would like to have an ad appear on the user’s smartphone. After all, the user is turning it on an average of 96 times per day to look at something, typically to check on news, weather, financial, sports, social and email. Each of these offers opportunities for advertising to promote the message and/or brand.
Now, you add to this the ability to display an ad at least some of the time during the user’s session using a laptop and tablet.
Thus, screen time is an important aspect of digital advertising. Realize that when you see an ad inside Facebook when you’re checking to see what people have posted, it’s intentionally put there by advertisers who are trying to match the message with the demographic that will best fit the objective of the advertiser.
That is why you are hearing news stories about how revenue from mobile advertising is going through the roof. Just look at Facebook’s latest financial results. Their revenue exceeded all expectations primarily due to additional ad revenue coming from use of smartphones. Others will demonstrate similar results over the coming years. Now you know why.
gerry purdy
J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., is the principal analyst with Mobilocity LLC and a research affiliate with Frost & Sullivan. He is a nationally recognized industry authority who focuses on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market behavior in mobile computing and wireless data communications devices, software and services. Purdy is an “edge of network” analyst looking at devices, applications and services as well as wireless connectivity to those devices. He provides critical insights regarding mobile and wireless devices, wireless data communications and connection to the infrastructure that powers the data in the wireless handheld devices. Purdy continues to be affiliated with the venture capital industry as well. He spent five years as a venture adviser for Diamondhead Ventures in Menlo Park, Calif., where he identified, attracted and recommended investments in emerging companies in the mobile and wireless industry. He has had a prior affiliation with East Peak Advisors and, subsequently, following their acquisition, with FBR Capital Markets. Purdy advises young companies that are preparing to raise venture capital. Purdy has been a member of the program advisory board of the Consumer Electronics Association that produces CES, one of the largest trade shows in the world. He is a frequent moderator at CTIA conferences and GSM Mobile World Congress. Prior to funding Mobilocity, Purdy was chief mobility analyst with Compass Intelligence. Prior to that, he owned MobileTrax LLC and enjoyed successful stints at Frost & Sullivan and Dataquest (a division of Gartner) among other companies.
Editor’s Note: Welcome to Analyst Angle. We’ve collected a group of the industry’s leading analysts to give their outlook on the hot topics in the wireless industry.


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