Mobile Matters, But Don’t Forget the Desktop

Garth Moore

Shifting to mobile advertising may be glamorous, but don’t forget the old tenants of the industry.

Designer's desk with responsive design mockup concept.

In 2007, Steve Jobs and Apple announced the first release of the iPhone, a “revolutionary and magical product” that pushed the potential for mobile markets and forever changed how we consume news media, entertainment, and advertising. Now over a decade old, the iPhone and other smartphone devices dominate internet traffic, responsible for 52.21% of internet traffic in 2016 — compared to 42.16% in 2015. And as of January 2017, 71% of all digital minutes in the USA came from smartphones.

So where are these mobile users going? To your website? Likely not. It’s still an app market for mobile users. 70% of websites take more than 7 seconds to load content for mobile viewing, increasing probability of bounce rates by 106%. Thanks to these woes, mobile users spend 90% of digital minutes in apps. While some of you may have glazed over from all this data, what does this mean for digital marketers? Should you drop everything and devote all your energy to mobile platforms? Not so fast. These figures all demonstrate mobile deserves a primary seat at the table (and will likely prevail) but based on relevant data, desktop remains king, at least for now.

In terms of just getting your brand in front of eyes, mobile advertising takes the cake. More traffic is more traffic, and the reach of your ads matters. However, due to the fundamental usage of mobile, these views are significantly less impactful, and the data supports this. Based on 39 trillion seconds of cumulative internet time, SimilarWeb found desktops made up nearly 60% time on websites, with mobile making up only 40%. Moreover, bounce rates are significantly higher for mobile than desktop while conversion rates are much lower.

So why shouldn’t you forget about the desktop audience? Desktop traffic is purposeful and direct. It has intention, while mobile tends to be the explorer. Mobile views spike in the early morning and at night, and 70% of users say they dislike mobile ads. Again, this makes sense: people don’t want to be bugged right after they wake up or before they go to sleep by the latest and greatest protein shake to just hit the market. Alternately, desktop traffic spikes during midday and during work hours (i.e. those productive hours). Whether through work-related internet research or by targeting the correct audience, these will ultimately be the viewers you go after, and you will be welcomed with hard-earned conversions.

When it comes down to it, the real lesson is you cannot disregard any one platform. Digital marketers must be a master of all facets, optimizing ads for different apps, different browsers, and different traffic platforms. Continual adaptation is paramount, as the next latest and greatest device will inevitably change the advertising market once again. However, when these shiny new platforms reveal themselves, don’t forget those past platforms. Mobile did not replace the desktop, but rather added to the playing field. As history always repeats itself, this pattern will as well. To stay on top of your game then, stay flexible with new and emerging tech, but don’t forget to always respect your elders.

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