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Brand Strategy   |   Marketing Communications


Digital Marketing: The Shift to the Small Screen

In case you missed it, 2014 was the year when everyone officially had to stop thinking about the digital world from a desktop perspective. For years, we’ve watched as smartphone and tablet online usage steadily gained ground on desktops. 2014 was the year that they pulled seriously into the lead. Desktop usage is well and truly lapped.

Take a look at this chart from comScore’s Digital Future in Focus report for 2015.

See that sad little blue box that’s been relatively unchanged since the end of 2010? That would be the number of minutes we’ve spent on desktops. A growth rate of 37% as compared to the 394% growth in smartphone minutes and the 1,721% growth of tablets.

comScore’s Digital Future in Focus report for 2015

Today, the share of U.S. consumers who use multiple platforms for online access is over 75% of the population. Even the generational divide has disappeared – with 74% of consumers 55+ now using mobile for online access. (Chart below). The fact is that if you are working in digital, your work will be seen on screens large and, especially, small.

comScore's Media Matrix Multi-Platform

What does this mean for marketers?

Think small first. Whether you’re designing a website, a page or a post, you’ll deliver a better experience across all platforms if you prioritize content based on the smallest screens. This approach forces you to be disciplined about web design and marketing strategy. What do your visitors really want first? Second? Or maybe never… By the time you sort out the items most important to your visitors, you may be reminded that, sadly, much of your content is beloved only by you.

Put the good stuff up front. If half of your site visitors are coming from mobile, you’d better give them what they want to see first and fast. Sure, it’s tempting to put that nice promotion at the top of your page. And it will make your product manager SO happy. But since you’ve got maybe three seconds before your mobile visitors give you the virtual Left Swipe, let’s err on the side of giving your customer the gratification rather than your colleague.

Get responsive now. If you haven’t already, it’s time to stop procrastinating and get that responsive website done. You know you’ll sleep better if you actually get it off your to-do list. And you won’t have to fear the analytics reports that shame you with the steadily increasing number of visitors who are attempting to interact with you, but are either giving up or giving themselves eyestrain from trying to view your tiny little web pages.

If 2014 is the year that we gave up our desktop-centric thinking, what milestone will we see in 2016? Maybe the end of three tidy categories of Phone, Tablet and Desktop.  Phones are shrinking to wearables and growing into ‘phablets’. Tablets are becoming convertibles. And the screens formerly grouped into ‘desktops’ will have to cover everything from a modest PC to Smart TVs so big that people are knocking out walls to get back far enough to see them.

Whatever the eventual screen size, the days when the answer to “What should we put on our site?” was “Everything” are thankfully over. Think small first.

Wynn Saggus - VP/Group Account Director Wynn Saggus, VP/Group Account Director

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