Revisiting the great mobile disruption

Spring 2013

If you spent time today scrolling though Henry Blodget's Slide Pack " This is what you need to know about the future of digital " you would have come across a slide that states "Mobile is the only media time that is growing".

At first glance it looked like my prediction from early 2010 (i.e. the only market Mobile was going to disrupt was online - at least based on the Japanese experience from almost a decade ago) was pretty much on target but there was something about the numbers that just didn't feel quite right. So I went back to the source data and remapped it. (See eMarketer ) What I discovered was more aligned with the "growth in screen time" theory described a few years back. e.g.


Let me show you.
Firstly the growth in media consumption via experiences under glass.


and now the breakdown of that growth expressed as time in front of screens.


All of which is to say that Mobile isn't so much disrupting as adding another dimension. Of course what is missing in the dataset is the cross over experience when Mobile Users are parked in front of the TV using their phone or tablet - currently estimated at some 38% of daily TV viewers in the USA. The data also needs to be more granular. Tablet and Phablet usage needs to be identified separately so the mix of screens from room to desk to lap to pocket can be mapped effectively.

But having said that it does appear to have flat-lined growth in time spent with both the Web and Broadcast TV in the US market.

As to the question is this a change in behaviour I am not so sure. People read newspapers, magazines and comics while watching TV in the past.. They also played games and did cross word puzzles. The only difference today is that activity is monitored and measured through the big data generated by these mobile devices. So it is probably less a change in behaviour and more a change in media channel. Another case of disrupting paper by reinventing the delivery paradigm. Paper to glass.

But even here the disruption story is more about the choice of data selected to tell the story than the reality on the ground.

You see, as this graphic (based on BiaKelsey 2011 data) illustrates, once you include Direct Mail into the US advertising mix, the digital disrupting print story doesn't ring true even in the world's biggest advertising market. All paper is still bigger than all electronic. While all creative is slightly ahead of database marketing.

Digital in all its forms (Mobile and Web) still has a long, long way to go before it has disrupted paper. But that said, once you throw Free into the mix, the pivot to database marketing has probably already happened.


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