Why mobile is eclipsing TV as ‘first screen’ for consumers

PeopleWatchingTVThe rapid pace of development in mobile media and technology is taking no one by surprise. For decades now mobile technology has empowered a new era of connectivity. But to imagine the mobile as the first screen in our lives, from media to messaging, from from shopping to entertainment, even ahead of the television set, is something of a watershed moment that is fast becoming a reality.

The dominant role of TV is changing, and as we approach a new age of digital disruption, mobile is taking over the market.  We are ‘always on’ with mobile, constantly receiving and sharing information across multiple channels and screens. It’s safe to say that mobile devices are now firmly established as competitors to conventional media channels in the UK.

At Weve we carried out a 2,000-person UK-wide piece of research into this and found that nearly half of all 18- to 34-year-olds consider mobile their first and most important screen. Nearly one in 10 consumers turn to their mobile first to make online purchases and over 1 in 3 cite their mobile device as the screen they look at most often. Our study conclusively demonstrates the rapid ascent of mobile devices to ‘first screen’ status.

Sixty-eight per cent of all consumers said that they receive just the right amount or would like to receive more messages, with the female demographic slightly more responsive to messaging than male. The top five consumer behaviours as a result of receiving a message are downloading an app, researching online, sharing information with family and friends, visiting a store and redeeming a voucher.

Recent data released by Internet analytics company ComScore backs up this notion. It found that young Brits have a higher recall of mobile advertising. A comparison of multiple mobile ad formats shows that UK smartphone users aged 18-24 have an especially high recall of mobile advertising, compared to the general population.

This research shows the true extent of consumers’ changing relationship with the devices in their pockets. Today, over 32% of Weve’s 20-million, opted-in customer base are actively using their mobile as their first screen and most importantly going online and purchasing through their device.

Mobile is the present and the future for the 18-24 year-old demographic, who use it as a first screen religiously – so it is my view that the market needs to respond by talking to them where they are, rather than to try to engage the consumer on TV or online.

We polled Weve’s customer base and the findings show how this insight-led approach to mobile relationship-building is already paying dividends. The top five areas that consumers are most interested in receiving messaging about, according to our data, are entertainment, food and drink, technology, travel and finally health and beauty.  With fashion, cars and finance following closely behind.

The status quo of the traditional media mix of TV, radio, online and print has remained unchanged for over a decade – mobile has been catching up fast, but it’s never quite sat at the same table as the better-established media channels. This research shows how fast mobile is now changing consumer behaviour, particularly among younger people, and how it has now become our first screen.

David Sear is the CEO of Weve, the new m-commerce platform set up as a joint venture by EE, O2 and Vodafone.