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Mapping “mobile first” for global consumers and content

May 1, 2017 | By Ben Martin, Marketing Insights Director—comScore, Inc @comScore

The rise of mobile devices is an almost universal constant for global digital markets, but our new comScore report, Mobile’s Hierarchy of Needs, shines a light on content and demographics that deliver particularly intense engagement on smartphone and tablet platforms.

The concept of “mobile first” has come a long way from its roots as a focus for UX design and technology-focused companies. Now it serves as a description for general consumer behavior. Over 60% of digital media time in the nine global markets analyzed (USA, Canada, UK, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, China and Indonesia) is spent on mobile. Even at this top line level, regional differences begin to emerge: The figure is 71% for US compared to 91% for Indonesia. Global markets have evolved based on local factors, with some making smartphone and tablets their primary devices.

Digging deeper into how mobile time is distributed, apps take the lion’s share at over 80% of mobile minutes. But more specifically, there are content areas within each country’s digital market in which mobile adoption has occurred at an accelerated rate. At a content category level, we can group by balance of mobile audiences and engagement to create a map of hotspots for mobile first behavior. And these, the report goes on to demonstrate, align against Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Here are 3 more key observations that emerged from the report:

  1. “Mobile only” usage is not just a younger phenomenon

    On a per-user basis, younger users appear to spend more time overall with their mobile devices. However, there are other indications that these platforms may also be an ideal location to target older digital users.

    The “mobile only” audience is gathering significance – 12% of American users do not access the internet via desktop in a month. This number rises to 35% south of the border in Mexico. Interestingly, while the US figure increases to 17% among 18 to 34 year-olds, this is still lower than the 21% of 55 to 64 year-olds who are “mobile only.” This makes these platforms a rich opportunity for reaching older audiences.

  1. Publisher content is a key contributor to social media engagement

    Social media delivers over 20% of mobile minutes in all countries contained within the report. However, consumers’ specific social activities have shifted within the last year. Whilst the posting and reading of personal statuses remained relatively flat in 2016, the percentage of users sharing and consuming content from publishers and brands on these platforms rose considerably. This contributes to higher than average news consumption for mobile social media users. And it serves as a reminder that content is still king, but that distribution – even in the digital world – is as important as ever.

  1. Engagement does not always correlate with reach among top apps

    With apps dominating mobile minutes and offering focused consumer attention on specific tasks, it is important to understand how these audiences can be unlocked.

    Top app charts (by total users) are dominated by large, global entities. However, reach among mobile users is not a reliable barometer for engagement. Leading social and entertainment apps, such as Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Spotify offer both high reach and high engagement across many markets. This makes them attractive venues for brand advertising. Other high reach apps like Google Search and Google Maps do not rely on high engagement. Yet they nevertheless meet important consumer needs that result in extremely valuable low-funnel advertising opportunity for marketers. This variation in the app environment ultimately demands more use of native advertising that is less one-size-fits-all than what desktop display advertising typically affords.

There is no doubt that consumers are taking an increasingly mobile first attitude to digital media consumption, and understanding their hierarchy of needs on mobile can help brands and publishers to better identify opportunities and communicate with them.

For more information on the report or to how comScore can help you succeed in a mobile-first world, visit comscore.com/mobile.

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