The State of Digital

Several crucial industry reports have been released over the last few weeks, each of which has a significant impact on the online and social marketing world. The advent of digital engagement has been a huge disruption for traditional communication methods between brands and consumers, and it has only just begun. Staying on top of trends and patterns is a vital step to success in this ever-changing environment.


Following are four of the most relevant facts from the reports along with key implications for small business marketers:

FACT: In 2011, personal computer (PC) growth stalled, smartphone sales blew past PC sales, and tablet growth overtook that of PCs.

IMPLICATION: We live in a four-screen world: TV, smartphone, tablet, and PC/laptop. Furthermore, consumers are using several at the same time, completely changing the dynamics of their experience with your brand. Over 60% of smartphone owners use their phones while watching TV multiple times a week. Shopping and social networking are the top two reasons why TV viewers look at their tablets and smartphones while on the couch. Now imagine the impact of connecting a TV ad with an online ad, all in real-time…


FACT: Pay TV subscriptions are trending down and other video sources such as Hulu and Netflix are growing rapidly.

IMPLICATION: Digital advertising is on the rise, a $30 billion industry at last count. Cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) are drastically lower than TV advertising, $.75 to $3.50, respectively. That being said, the industry is still in its infancy and has some hurdles to clear. A study in the U.K. showed that 88% of respondents ignore ads in mobile apps. As smartphone use grows, so does annoyance with mobile ads. There is a lot of room to grow to move from intrusive to welcomed and engaging.


FACT: 13% of all Internet traffic is mobile and the mobile web audience has increased 82% from July 2011 to July 2012.

IMPLICATION: It should come as no surprise that mobile is the hottest topic for brand marketers. And beyond just overall use, it’s important to note how and when mobile is being utilized. 20% of consumers call or text friends and family about a product while inside the actual store. Even more take pictures of products while in-store and do real-time price comparison shopping on their smartphones. Understanding this and facilitating such activity will be a major factor in retailers’ success. Additionally, responsive web design – building your website so that it changes appropriately for each device it is viewed on – is of the utmost importance for optimal user experience.


FACT: People continue to spend more time on social networks than any other category of sites – 20% on PCs and 30% on mobile.

IMPLICATION: Social sites are a hotbed for community engagement, but don’t start blasting sale promotion announcements all over your Facebook page just yet. Nearly 70% of people say they “hate” when a company targets them through social media and 60% labeled social media marketing as “invasive”. That doesn’t mean you should avoid Twitter, it just requires establishing trust and relevance with your audience. Provide useful information, engage in real conversation, and entertain your fans to take advantage of social’s great benefits.


There is little doubt that the digital landscape is evolving right before our eyes, with mobile content consumption and multi-device experiences at the forefront. Keeping track of trends and data regarding digital usage, particularly when it’s specific to your target market, is a great way to stay ahead of the competition.

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