25 Mobile Research Charts to Guide Your 2012 Marketing

Why You Need Mobile Marketing Now! [Research]

Mobile phones and particularly the increasing adoption of smartphones, continue to change how people receive information, consume content and engage with others.

To take advantage of the opportunities presented by these mobile devices and their expanded functionality and create an effective mobile marketing strategy, marketers must understand how consumers use them and what the implications are for content marketing, promotions, communications and purchase channels.

Here are twenty-five charts of the latest research sourced from a variety of organizations to enable you to better understand how the mobile landscape has evolved so you can incorporate these changes into your marketing plans. 

US Smartphone penetration

To put this information in perspective, mobile phones account for 5.2% of the device traffic or about 1/20 of the US connected marketplace, which also includes computers and tablets according to comScore. While mobile usages continues to increase, it hasn’t caused a decrease in computer usage since it tends to be incremental, often when an individual isn’t in front of their computer. 

Traditionally late adopters, the US switched to smartphones in 2011. Underlying this trend is a change in pricing as well as other consumer needs. According to Pew Internet Research, US smartphone ownership increased 46% as of February 2012 up from 35% in May 2011. While confusion over smartphones has declined, about 8% of US adults aren’t sure whether they own a smartphone or a plain cellphone. Interestingly, roughly one in ten US adults has no cell phone.

In terms of purchase consideration factors, choice of operating system mattered significantly for US smartphone buyers.

Interestingly, BlackBerries remained one of the top five handsets. This is attributable to its dominance in the corporate market. This data doesn’t show the number of individuals using two devices. 

Changing smartphone demographics & sentiments

The growth in smartphone ownership has changed the profile of the market in important ways for marketers. Once perceived as a high priced technical gadget, now with the maturing of the smartphone market in terms of first time buyers and lower pricing, smartphones are reaching market segments with lower spending ability. Specifically, households with more than 6 people, income under $25,000 and retirees, are now purchasing smartphones. For retirees, it may also be attributable to using BlackBerries at work and their established communications habits. 

Smartphones play an important role in consumers’ lives. Specifically, Yahoo!’s Mobile Modes Research found that about two-thirds of smartphone owners agree with the following two statements:

  • My mobile device allows me to access information that helps me in real life circumstances.
  • My mobile device quickly provides the answer to questions when I need an immediate response.

With their ever expanding functionality, smartphones are becoming the connected version of a Swiss Army knife, in a manner of speaking, except that they don’t cut, according to research from Prosper Mobile Insights. Look deeper at this list and you’ll find that in part why lower income demographics are switching to smartphones is that they can reduce other costs. It’s notable that roughly two fifths of Americans have cut their landline. Surprisingly missing from this list is televisions.

One factor marketers shouldn’t overlook when planning to implement a mobile marketing strategy is consumer concerns about privacy and tracking. When it comes to mobile devices, people are worried about more than just their online activities. On mobile, privacy concerns include personal information, financial data and physical location, based on research by Prosper Mobile Insights.

Smartphones – the ever present companion

Mobile phones, especially smartphones, are becoming the everywhere companion. Regardless of where you are, the smartphone’s at your side whether it’s a business meeting, a night out, or bedtime.

As a marketer, it’s important to understand that mobile usage differs from computer usage. In part, this is influenced by where the owner is when using the device and the difference in download speeds.

Here’s how time with a smartphone breaks out by activity according to Nielsen.

Activity – Mobile Versus PC Usage Compared

Source: Yahoo! Mobile Modes

MobileCategory MobileUsage PC Usage
Connect 38% 32%
Search 16% 10%
Entertain 15% 27%
Manage 10%  9%
Inform  9% 11%
Shop  7% 13%
Navigate  3%  0%

What’s surprising about smartphone use is that people tend to use them most in their homes according to Our Mobile Planet research by Google and Ipsos. This makes sense since they’ve eliminated other costs, such as landlines, computers, internet service and gaming devices. 

Mobile Content Consumption

Consumers use mobile browsers (47.5%) and mobile apps (47.6%) almost equally to consumer mobile content as of December 2011 according to comScore. For marketers, this means you need to offer prospects and customers a choice of methods to consume your content. Here’s a break out of mobile browser versus mobile app by information category. For marketers, these results can indicate the use of a mobile browser versus a mobile app. Bear in mind that you can use mobile advertising to develop a mobile presence on both mobile websites and mobile applications to extend your options cost effectively.

As smartphone owners become more experienced at using their phones, their habits are changing. The top three uses by US smartphone owners are texting, taking photographs and using email. While teens probably dominate among texters and professionals dominate among email users, improved cameras means more images captured of events that wouldn’t have been considered photo-worthy if carrying a camera and development were required. Why take notes when you can take a photo of the chart? I see this behavior when I present at conferences. Attendees don’t wait to get the slides; they store it on their phones and tablets.

Of interest to marketers is the voracious content consumption on smartphones. It goes beyond routine communication in texts and email. It’s information we don’t necessarily want others to know we’re reading! It’s health, shopping, men’s content, payments and jobs. Look at where concurrent smartphone usage occurs and this makes sense. No one wants their boss, spouse, partner or kids to know exactly what they’re doing or if they’re having troubles.

This trend carries over to mobile apps based on data from Millenial Media where games, music and social networking remained the top categories, health was one of the new entrants into the top 10. 

Social networking is an important activity on a mobile phone and can be accomplished easily in short bites of time. While keeping up with family and friends rates highest, about one in three reads brand updates. (Note: The percentage of people accessing social media sites varies depending on if you’re talking about mobile phones in general or smartphones specifically.

Concurrent device usage

Due to its portability and always available status, smartphones tend to be used with other forms of media. Here are the results of the Google-Ipsos findings.

Additionally, use of other forms of media can motivate smartphone owners to check other resources.

Mobile advertising

Mobile advertising spending in the US reached $1.45 billion in 2011, up 89% from 2010, based on estimates by eMarketer. High US mobile advertising growth is projected to continue in 2012 with mobile ad spending anticipated to reach $2.61 billion, roughly an 80% increase. As the eMarketer forecast shows, US mobile ad spending will continue to increase over the next five years, although the rate of increase will decline each year.

As mobile advertising continues to increase, there’ll be a shift from text and related messaging to other forms, notably banners and video. What’s interesting is that as a proportion of total mobile advertising, mobile search will remain relatively stable. This is attributable to the fact that consumers use it to navigate the mobile web and get information on the go. For marketers, this means making sure that you’ve allocated part of your mobile and/or search spend to these information seekers.

Want to improve your mobile advertising? Before you jump into mobile advertising, understand that 26% of smartphone owners trust text (or SMS) advertising and 27% of owners trust display ads (both video and banners). Further Nielsen  research found that smartphone owners are looking for advertising to leverage their smartphone technology (of course, don’t forget to be careful around the privacy issues.)

  • 33% find ads that offer custom information based on their location useful
  • 26% are more likely to look at ads if they have an interesting video
  • 20% enjoy ads that have interactive features

Consumers recall mobile advertising based on the Google-Ipsos research at a very high rate. In part, this may be attributable to the newness of the channel and relatively lower level of advertising or that they’re interested in the ads because they’re in shopping mode.
Due to the differences in how consumers use their smartphones and the related costs for data, marketers must consider where, when and what to advertise on mobile platforms.

This chart shows consumers’ mindset based on their use of their smartphone and what they expand from advertising on this medium. It’s interesting that shopping rates best across almost all categories. (Note: These results are indexed so that  a score above 100 is good and the higher the better.)

When it comes to advertising, it’s no surprise that ad recall and engagement are highest for shopping since these buyers are generally closer to actual purchase than they are when using their devices for other activities. Marketers take heed and ensure that your brands, products and retail locations appear on mobile (especially search and related local options)  to ensure your firm’s options have a chance in the purchase decision.

Further targeting is coming to mobile advertising and showing positive results according to Jumpstep’s Mobile STAT findings.

Smartphones are quickly becoming the must-have accessory across various demographic segments because it enables people to stay connected with their family, friends, colleagues and social network contacts. With its ever expanding functionality, smartphones are replacing other modes of communication and media consumption. These have broad implications for marketers.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Please note that mobile commerce, tablet use and QR codes will be covered in separate columns. Stay tuned.  If want your research included in a future round up, please email it to us.

Hat tip to Ashley Friedlein of eConsultancy for sharing background materials.

Here are some related articles about mobile marketing you may find of interest.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/5232023022/

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    Great post. Such a informative stats and analysis which guides to the actual ratings about mobile marketing. Good to see some important stats here. Thanks

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    Outstanding article. Great to have these infographics with good sort of information on mobile marketing.

  • http://www.bobangus.com/ Bob Angus

     Wow! Thank you for sharing all that data. I’m a big believer in Social-Local-Mobile driving high conversion rates for those businesses that can do it well.

    The consumer mindset data show near the end of the post is fantastic. More than showing what folks do on their mobile phone, it shows how they feel. The highly charged emotions (positive or negative) are opportunities to drive action more effectively. Just have to properly match the message, method, and timing with the feeling to get great conversions.

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    mobile marketing technology that enables brands and enterprises to engage consumers via their mobile phones.