Consuming online content. PC vs. mobile
The ongoing development of new technologies means that a growing share of online population enjoys the internet via their mobile tools. The number of applications dedicated to these devices and the potential they have is on a constant rise.
This trend poses new challenges to advertisers who are interested in getting their message across via the internet, to online publishers and the entire business operating on the web. Today's internet measurement is accurate enough to understand usage of particular device and therefore a behaviour of internet users ─ a talk with Vesna Zakarič, International Sales and Marketing Director and Board of Directors Member at Gemius.
What can be said about the most prevalent media consumption trends in today's internet?
Vesna Zakarič: The very nature of the web use is changing, which largely stems from the technological progress. We can all remember the breakthrough in the history of Apple marked by the advent of the first iPhone. Another milestone in the life of the American brand, in the online realm at large, was the launch of the first iPad. The latter took place in 2010, which is relatively recent. Yet a great deal of things has changed since that time. An increasing number of brands offer smartphones and tablets, the web access infrastructure is spreading, bringing a significant decrease in prices and removing the barriers of usage. To sum up, it's not only about the growing number of individuals connecting the internet any more, but about their use of mobile devices for this purpose. We are facing whole snow ball. Increase in internet population, improved infrastructure, new devices for accessing internet in affordable price and this together brought the most significant change that is influencing today’s online business and strategies of many companies operating in this field. Change in behavior of online customers and changing occasions when and how they are using in particular their mobile phones. This phenomena is changing online industry.
What are the practical implications of the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets?
First and foremost, this is a new way of consuming online content. This, in turn, carries a number of changes in the approach to e-business. Every industry or company operating online must address the specificity of mobile devices and the new obstacles, but also the chances they offer.
What are the characteristics of the trend?
One specific feature here is the increase in the number of such devices' users among the general population of the internet. The most important observation is that the European markets – the ones we are researching, at least – are highly diversified in respect of the number of users or the share of mobile page views per device.
Because Gemius has been monitoring these markets for years, we can now observe trends taking place over longer periods of time. This is why we know that as recently as three years ago the share of page views made with mobile devices accounted for 1-2 per cent. Today, the average is 8-9 per cent of total traffic. First, then, there is a common trend of the growing number of internet users who turn to smartphones and tablets. Second, the scale of the phenomenon is to a large extent varied.
What is the situation like on particular markets?
As I have mentioned already, the average is 8-9 per cent. In Ukraine and Belarus, however, the indicator oscillates around 4-5 per cent. A share exceeding ten per cent is enjoyed by mobile devices on such markets as Croatia or Poland, over 20 per cent in Slovakia, up the list to Denmark, where the page views coming from smartphones and tablets make up as much as 34 per cent.
The differences are indeed large. We know that trends usually progress eastwards from America, through Western Europe, to our part of the continent and further. Are we dealing with a similar situation here? In other words, can we foresee the situation in Central and East Europe by observing the US or West European markets?
Not quite: Denmark is one of the most advanced markets in the world. I mean their technological progress, internet access, development of the society, etc. It is not by accident that some time ago we got interested in that country and enrolled it in our research projects. I believe you could point to two states – Denmark and Great Britain – as the ones that in terms of technological development, online business and online presence innovations are not only European, but also global leaders. In Denmark, for instance, the internet ad spends exceeded budgets earmarked for other media long time ago - this includes television. Great Britain is not much of a difference in this respect, too. Let me add that also in Poland the importance of the web as a communication and media consumption channel is on the rise.
So this is a new important trend on the internet. But what does this mean for the business?
The knowledge about the trend should serve as a basis for a new model of online business presence: both image and sales oriented. Because we are dealing with a market where every fourth or third web connection is done with a mobile device, this must be taken into account, so that the contact with internet users is not broken. Be them the current or potential customers. In practice, a re-definition of online presence strategies may take different forms. The common ground, however, will have to be the 'mobile users', their needs, preferences and other requirements of technical nature, e.g. by adapting websites to tablet or smartphone screen characteristics, broadening communication channels with applications dedicated to such devices with consideration of varied OS's.
Even the simple acknowledgement of the fact that communication or consumption of content on a smartphone or tablet is not done via a browser may prove crucial. And this happens more and more rarely, perhaps as an exception even. Many websites, including search engines, are visited through apps. This is far more comfortable and efficient.
To recap, publishers must now face new challenges, such as paid or free of charge access to their content via mobile devices and rethink how to price inventory available on this devices. Media houses and advertising agencies should consider profiling their communication to suit the smartphone or tablet user's specificity. Advertisers must address some new requirements concerning the forms of communication and other paths to a customer.
All this boils down to one issue – it's the knowledge about mobile internet users' behaviour.
And this is where research and consulting companies enter the stage...
Yes. Gemius has recently undertaken website traffic measurement with consideration of internet access platforms – stationary or mobile. Interestingly, our research proves extremely precise. For example, it divides users into those who use tablets and those who surf the web on their smartphones. Based on such information, I may conclude, for example, that in the early 2011 the traffic generated from tablets equalled zero, and in the case of smartphones it accounted for 1 per cent. But in December 2013 tablets were already responsible for 2 per cent, and smartphones for 6 per cent. The data concerns CEE markets jointly. I have mentioned the considerably high share of 'mobile' internet users in Denmark. Well, as far as that market is concerned, in December 2013, 19 per cent of all page views came from smartphones, and 17 per cent from tablets.
If you wanted to name some concrete benefits this knowledge offers to advertisers, what would they be?
Apart from the data on the distribution of tablet and smartphone usage on different markets, we also can precisely analyse the hours at which people browse the web on different types of devices. This 'migration' happening between the PC and mobile equipment shows a constant pattern. For advertisers and media houses this knowledge is indispensable in precise media planning. They know how and when to communicate their message, when to expect intense interaction or entries to specific sale websites, etc.
How does the change happen in practice?
Let's take a specific market to serve as an example – Turkey. On weekdays, the peak of tablet use takes place about 10 p.m., reaching around 9 per cent. Then it drops down to approx. 6 per cent at midnight. During the day, the Turkish use their tablets less, e.g. at noon the indicator is only about 3 per cent. The conclusions are that tablets are used after work, and 50 per cent of daily traffic from these devices is generated between10 p.m. and 1 a.m. The situation is similar in the case of smartphones. Weekends, however, are quite a different story. From around noon up to 10 p.m. the fluctuations and results are similar for all: PCs, tablets and smartphones.
This example data, even if quoted in a somewhat sketchy manner, already proves the knowledge we gather is necessary to rationally publish content for different types of devices and plan marketing communication in such a way as to ensure its maximum effectiveness – by directing it at the right hour and on the right day to get the most of it.
You could now say this is yet another proof of the superiority online marketing communication has over other, traditional channels, such as TV, radio, outdoor or press. Even some time ago, online campaigns could be planned in a more accurate and cost efficient way by advertisers. Now we have taken another step forward in pursuit of that precision. To some extent, these changes progress along parallel ways: we witness subsequent phases of technological development, and new marketing possibilities tagging along.
How innovative is this approach to measuring the web, i.e. break down into communication channels?
Entirely and globally. Of course, similar activities to the ones I have described are found on a number of different markets, but the solution offered by Gemius is truly comprehensive and innovative. Please remember that on the markets where we operate, we have been providing our services to publishers or advertisers for many years, delivering expert knowledge. What we are doing now is nothing more than broadening our offer and the scope of information we make available to clients. This is our response to the changes on the market and to online content consumption trends. We observe and draw conclusions. What is important and interesting, our solution did not originate from the Western Europe, which is the traditional source of innovation, but from markets seen as rising and holding enormous potential.
Where has the solution been implemented?
In Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Turkey. In the coming months, the research will be launched in other countries.