Tech companies and mobile marketers are beginning to figure out the new omnichannel marketing paradigm. It is a complex, stratified landscape that requires nimbleness to reach the right demographics with the right messages, keep consumers' attention and then convert mobile interactions into sales.
In comScore Inc.'s report, U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2014, the ever more fragmented media landscape is investigated from several angles, including mobile, social media, video and advertising. Optimization of each facet, and combining each into a cohesive, cross-platform whole, is the struggle comScore explores.
The researchers said 2013 was a relatively quiet year from a product introduction perspective. The real news was the double-digit growth of mobile device adoption in the United States. As of December 2013, 65 percent of U.S. consumers 13 years of age and up have smartphones, and 34 percent have tablets.
With "marketing dollars following eyeballs to mobile platforms," as the report stated, marketers would be wise to focus on mobile apps. Eighty-five percent of the time spent on the Internet via mobile devices is filtered through apps, according to the researchers. Not surprisingly, the most popular app is for Facebook, followed by Google Play, Google Search and YouTube.
Social networks are also enjoying increased interactions from mobile device users, at the expense of connections facilitated by desktop computers. An important trend touched on by comScore is the rise of social networks that focus on visuals over the written word. Such platforms as Instagram, Snapchat and Vine are growing because "their highly visual and easily digestible content is immediately resonating with users and attracting new adherents," comScore said.
At the heart of these image-dominated social networks are the cameras on smart devices, which allow users to create content and upload it to networks almost instantaneously. "With smartphones facilitating simple but compelling content creation, they provide the fuel that has led to high intensity interaction and supercharged the growth of these platforms," comScore noted.
Another trend involves "native advertising," which is the practice of social networks embedding advertising into the content streams of their users. ComScore said native advertising is the key to social media monetization. The reason given for this is that native advertising integrates ads into the user's social experience in a less intrusive fashion, and the advertising campaigns function seamlessly between the mobile and desktop realms.
Smartphones and tablets are driving another growth segment in online video, which is seen by comScore as an effective way to realize greater brand recognition and more sales. "Perhaps the combination of sight-sound-and-motion in a lean-forward experience provides greater marketing impact than the lean-back experience of TV," comScore said.
Dovetailing with that statement is that the up-and-coming consumer demographic – the millennial generation – love to watch videos online. The report said this group spends 48 percent more time watching videos online than the average Internet user.
In the realm of digital ad delivery, comScore noted that there is still much room for improvement. The report said 54 percent of all ads are not viewable online. Another problem is that the majority of media companies have not yet allocated enough money to digital advertising to realize its potential, according to comScore.
"With the appropriate measurement systems and cross-media comparable metrics in place, dollars can be more optimally allocated towards the media driving the highest brand and sales impact," the report said.
ComScore believes the secret to realizing that impact is by companies investing in integrated marketing campaigns across multiple platforms. "On balance, an integrated approach should result in improved sell-through rates and improved CPMs [cost per thousand impressions] across mobile channels," comScore said.
ComScore pointed out that the fragmentation and disruption caused by the mobile device revolution presents a golden opportunity for businesses, but only for those nimble enough to navigate the changing landscape. In that effort, businesses must embrace mobile technology.
As comScore stated, "The extraordinary challenges of a fragmented media landscape have created a premium for the ability to solve increasingly complex problems; fortunately, the evolution in technology infrastructure, big data and marketing measurement systems promise to help realize the potential of the digital age."
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