The mobile era of the internet
Technological developments trigger the pursuit of new online business strategies. One such change-inspiring trend is the increasing popularity of mobile devices. What does the internet users' shift from PCs to tablets and smartphones mean for business?
In practice, the growing number of smartphones and tablets means deep changes in the behaviour of users. This will affect the ways in which they spend their leisure time, the frequency of browsing the web, and increase their appetite for mobile apps. For it is not only the narrowly profiled companies that deliver their products and services via mobile applications: browsers and search engines are being replaced with appropriate apps, too.
"As recently as three years ago, the share of page views made via mobile devices accounted for 1-2 per cent of total traffic. The present average result is 8-9 per cent. The data concerns several dozen markets where our company operates - says Vesna Zakarič".
With these devices, internet access has become practically unlimited in time. The smartphone and tablet market boom is observed all over Europe – of course with some variations in the scope of the phenomenon. Yet the common ground is the rise in the demand for this type of gadgets.
"As recently as three years ago, the share of page views made via mobile devices accounted for 1-2 per cent of total traffic. The present average result is 8-9 per cent. The data concerns several dozen markets where our company operates" says Vesna Zakarič, International Sales and Marketing Director, Board of Directors member at Gemius.
While in Ukraine and Belarus, the indicator still remains at 4-5 per cent, in Poland or Croatia it already accounts for more than ten per cent. It is even higher in Slovakia – over 20 per cent – and Denmark, where the share of page views originating from smartphones and tablets has already reached 34 per cent.
Why would this matter to businesses? The fact is that an increasing number of companies maintain strong online presence. Internet publishers paved the way which is now followed by television, radio, press publishers (based on varied methods of making their content accessible to audience). E-commerce too is gaining popularity and value, so do numerous services available online (ranging from insurance and banking to even the most trivial of consumer needs).
From this point of view, the knowledge of the scale, of who and at what time uses mobile devices becomes crucial. What's even more, migration from a PC to smartphone or tablet also means that the users will not passively sit in front of the screen at work or home. They are mobile, they expect concrete content at a given time, and are capable of immediate response to a message in the real world (e.g. ordering a service, buying a product online or visiting a nearby shop, evaluating products or services in social media).
"The awareness of this trend should be reflected in new business online presence model, both in terms of image and sales" comments Mateusz Gordon, Gemius e-commerce expert. "When dealing with a market where every fourth or third internet connection is done via mobile devices, you must take this fact into consideration, or else you will run the risk of losing contact with this group of users. They are either present or potential customers. Redesigning online presence strategies may be done in a number of ways. The common ground for all of them will be taking into account the mobile internet users, their needs, preferences and requirements that have a technological importance" he adds.
In practice, this may come down to adapting websites to be displayed on tablet or smartphone screens, broadening communication with dedicated apps, with consideration of different operating systems.
Any further challenges that businesses must face will depend on their specificity. Other are posed to publishers, who must consider provision of access to their paid and free of charge content through mobile devices. Other – to media houses and advertising agencies, who should focus on communication profiled by the specificity of smartphones and tablets users. In the case of advertisers – some new challenges regarding forms of communication and other ways to reach a customer must be addressed. "All the above boils down to one issue: the knowledge about internet users' behaviour on mobile devices" explains Vesna Zakarič.
For a few months now Gemius has been implementing internet measurement with division into sources of page views: stationary and mobile machines (here Gemius breaks them down into smartphones and tablets). "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" says Zakarič.
Apart from data on the distribution of tablet and smartphone usage on different markets, the Gemius solution can also precisely analyse, how people browse the web on different types of devices. "This migration, if you will, 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." comments Vesna Zakarič. "The data we gather and analyse already show that the knowledge 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" she adds.
Gemius, as a company involved in online traffic measurement for many years, has broadened the scope of information made available to the clients in response to the new trend. The analysis discerning traffic from different types of devices is already operational in Denmark.