The much-anticipated shift toward mobile will occur this year in the two largest digital advertising categories: search and display. For the first time, US advertisers will spend more in these areas to reach consumers on mobile devices than desktop computers, according to a new eMarketer report, “The State of US Digital Advertising 2015: Mobile Trumps Desktop, People Trump Devices.”
eMarketer estimates US advertisers will spend $52.71 billion on search and display advertising in 2015, up 16.6% from the prior year. In an effort to catch up with consumers toting smartphones and tablets, more than half (52.2%) of this expenditure is expected to go toward mobile campaigns.
Devices take center stage at the budgetary and tactical level, but strategically, marketers are focusing less on devices and more on people, specifically connecting with consumers wherever and whenever they access the web.
“The biggest change we’re seeing is the move towards people-centric marketing,” said Chad Gallagher, global director of mobile for AOL. “Both brand and performance advertisers are saying, ‘We don’t necessarily care about the device, we care about driving results against people.’ That’s a fundamental change.”
Marketers are keenly aware that the average person relies on multiple devices to access the internet, so the device itself is no longer a strong indicator of the type of person using it. According to Forrester Research, US consumers across all demographic groups used an average of 3.3 devices last year. Millennials used more—four devices on average.
Armed with such knowledge, marketers are thinking more holistically about the customer experience they deliver across multiple screens instead of focusing on each device and channel as a silo. The vast majority (86%) of marketers worldwide polled by Salesforce.com in November 2014 said delivering a cohesive customer journey across devices was very important or critical to the success of their business.
Indeed, most agree that identifying target audiences across devices and delivering a cohesive brand message to each screen is the path toward success.
“Marketers have all seen the graphs that show people are spending more and more time on mobile devices, and they know they need a strategy,” said Adam Berke, president and CMO of AdRoll. “However, if you ask, ‘What’s your business objective for mobile?’ they haven’t had a great answer for that.“ It’s difficult to extend campaigns beyond desktop, Berke added, if marketers don’t know what they’re aiming to achieve by serving ads to mobile devices.