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The Second Screen Is Secondary No More – Are You Making the Most of Mobile?

  |  July 3, 2014   |  Comments

Mobile has shed its "second-screen" image and is fast becoming the primary screen for many consumers. Here are some tips for how marketers can make the most of their brand's mobile experience.

Consumers are obsessed with mobile. The utility of mobile devices and the freedom they afford their users have conjoined to create the era of mobile media. ComScore reports that smartphones and tablets now account for 60 percent of consumers' total digital media time, up from 50 percent last year. And mobile apps represented half of all time spent with digital media in May, while 42 percent of users see mobile as "the most important resource in their purchase process."

In other words, mobile isn't on its way to renouncing its "second screen" title. It's already there.

If mobile is so captivating, the undisputed prime screen for an increasingly large contingent of consumers, why are some brands still lagging behind in delivering an appealing mobile experience? Look and you'll find countless articles offering advice on how to sell C-level executives on the importance of investing in a mobile site. Last year, Adobe revealed that 45 percent of businesses still didn't have a mobile-optimized site or app. Only 30 percent of digital marketers surveyed considered mobile optimization a top priority for 2013.

Although investments in mobile are on the rise, with Gartner reporting marketers "plan to make long overdue expenditures for mobile marketing tools and techniques," many businesses still haven't embraced the mobile mindset. An analysis of the travel industry conducted by online marketing firm The Search Agency found that "most companies lack the basic elements for creating an optimized mobile experience." Just eight of the 100 sites analyzed use responsive Web design, Google's recommended format. And while 67 percent of the top travel sites - including hotels, tourist destinations, and vacation review services - do offer dedicated mobile properties, their average load time is 2.64 seconds, much longer than Google's recommended 1-second download time.

The Search Agency's report and other new research on mobile media offer valuable takeaways for brands looking to improve their mobile experience for consumers. It's time to go beyond simply taking the plunge and building that long-overdue mobile destination. With its new prime screen status, mobile is deserving of far more energy and attention than we've been giving it so far.

  1. Be particular about your mobile site features. The Search Agency advises brands to include search functionality, click-to-call (where relevant), social media buttons, and a link where visitors can download your mobile app. "Good design is baked in, not the icing on the cake," says Brandon Schakola, group director of earned media with the agency. These functions are important to a smooth user experience and a good fit for most businesses, but it's possible yours might need more. Which site features you include should be contingent on what you hope to deliver to your customers...and those customers have some thoughts about what they want to see. Among the site features users say are important are fast load times, operating hours, and the ability to play a YouTube clip on-demand. Pick the ones most relevant to your business, and you'll be off and running.
  2. Build your site using responsive Web design (RWD). Whether it's best to build a responsive site or a separate mobile destination is a polarizing question. Much depends on the nature of your business and what you hope your mobile site will achieve. Given that responsive Web design adapts to multiple devices and screen sizes, however, it's the simplest approach and thus a good option for brands just starting to invest seriously in mobile. Throw in the fact that RWD is Google's "recommended configuration," and you have yourself a great jumping-off point.
  3. Invest in native and video ads. New research on mobile display ad performance shows that native ads on mobile devices are now generating engagement rates of 14 percent and click-through rates of more than 10 percent. Video completion rates, meanwhile, have increased by 52 percent for standard ads and 77 percent for native ads over Q4 2013.

The fact that video play rates in general haven't increased much seems to suggest that consumers are coming to see more value in video content on their mobile devices, and giving it more of a chance to inform or entertain them. A stat worthy of note, though not particularly surprising: users are more likely to play and complete a video on a tablet than on a smartphone with its smaller screen.

Mobile is primed to keep growing. Are you making the most of your brand's mobile experience?


Tessa Wegert

Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.

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