Study: As Smartphone Use Increases, Are You Wasting Money on TV Ads?

An increasing amount of people are using smartphones (and laptops) as they're watching TV.

Most likely, the television is no longer the dominant screen in your target audience’s household. A comprehensive new study by Yahoo Advertising finds that not only is mobile use on the rise (while TV is declining), but mobile ads achieve a more emotional response than traditional television spots.

Yahoo found that in 2015, 53 percent of mobile phone users all over the world were mobile internet users — the first time that mark has risen above 50 percent. Nearly 3 out of 5 people in the U.S. used a smartphone to access the internet, and smartphone adoption rates in the U.S. are growing by 11.4 percent (now at 190.5 million).

However, Yahoo cited an eMarketer study, showing that the average daily time spent on mobile has grown 47 percent (from 2:15 to 3:18), computer has dipped 4 percent and television has declined 12 percent. Yet, TV still outpaces digital on ad spend, 41 percent to 34 percent.

An increasing amount of people are using smartphones (and laptops) as they’re watching TV. Citing Nielsen, Yahoo found that both Gen X’ers and Millennials cop to using at least a laptop while watching television, and a scant few said they multitask on all three devices — smartphone, laptop and TV.

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Both Millennials and Gen X’ers tended to multitask more during primetime TV (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.), with Millennials switching devices 8.7 times per hour and Gen X’ers switching devices 9.2 times per hour.

The study showed some interesting differences in how these two age groups are served ads and how they react to them. Overall, Yahoo found that mobile ads achieve a more emotional response than television commercials.

Yahoo finds that the most ad-bombarded group (Millennials) are also the people most responsive to advertising.

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Yahoo found that advertising during primetime actually makes people more responsive to ads. Among Millennials, Yahoo saw a 13 percent lift in emotional response to mobile ads among multitaskers (this figure was 6 percent for Gen X multitaskers).

Even though the television is the most-watched screen, many people are paying more attention to their computer or phone as the show plays.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 10.15.12 PMThe Yahoo study summed up what marketers need to know about reaching these multitaskers:

Mobile apps continue to grow media influence on mobile. When targeting these key segments, keep in mind the unique opportunities every demographic presents.

Content is king. As phablet penetration increases expect this to alter behavior considerably among younger demographics.

Readers: How often do you multitask while watching TV?