Mobile is no longer Internet browsing’s little brother—not even close. After a tight battle, mobile has actually surpassed desktop use in the past six months, and now leads desktop in audience size by almost 50 percent.
If that seems hard to believe, take it from tech analyst Benedict Evans, who says, “Mobile is not a subset of the Internet anymore, that you use only if you’re waiting for a coffee or don’t have a PC in front of you—it’s becoming the main way that people use the Internet.” Among 345,832,772 Internet users worldwide, 280 million use apps more than 60 times per day. And if that’s not convincing enough, consider that the average American spends more than 3 hours each day on their mobile device, and that 87 percent of Facebook daily users are accessing the social network through mobile.
Digital marketers are starting to figure this out, and it’s leading to a change in resource allocation and marketing strategy. Whereas before a marketing department might put 70 percent of their digital budget on desktop and 30 percent on mobile, those numbers are starting to skew in the other direction. If marketers aren’t making this change, they aren’t listening to the numbers. According to the International Advertising Bureau, 52 percent of consumers are accessing retail sites on their mobile devices. While these numbers come from retail sites, they signal a push towards mobile across all verticals.
So how does this affect you as an Internet publisher? When asked about this at the Press Gazette’s 2014 News on the Move conference, Martin Ashplant, digital and social media director of City AM, said, “My preference would always be to focus on mobile because that’s where the growth is, that’s where the audience is, that’s where it’s going to increase in the next few years. So if you are going to focus on one area, focus on that smartphone.” With each new study or analysis of mobile use, it becomes clearer that this growth won’t be slowing down any time soon.
Another big shift yoked to the mobile revolution is the timing of effective digital marketing, since publishers no longer have to reach consumers at their desks at just the right moment. Audiences can now be reached 24/7, no matter where they are, what they’re doing, or how they’re moving. They’re also more active on the weekends. This is a huge change from the traditional idea of when marketing can be most effective. In fact, at the Guardian in the U.K., approximately 60 percent of weekend usage comes from mobile devices.
So we know that mobile is bigger than desktop and only growing from here. The next big decision publishers have to make is whether to concentrate their efforts on mobile websites or mobile apps. While both can be used successfully, studies have shown that mobile websites are more effective when it comes to news. For example, the Guardian found that just 20 percent of their total page views came from an app, while 40 percent came from their mobile website.
Taking all of this evidence into account, it’s easy to see that any publication could benefit from going mobile, specifically with a beautifully designed mobile website that provides a great user experience. Of course you could wait until mobile is completely mainstream before making the shift—but if you want to stay ahead of the curve, the time to go mobile is now.