More people will turn to their mobile device instead of TV for entertainment in 2019

  •   October 7, 2019

Most marketers know the pace at which people are consuming media via their mobile devices shows no signs of slowing down, but the rate at which it is replacing traditional TV viewing is about to hit a milestone. This year, mobile will surpass TV as the medium attracting the most entertainment minutes among U.S. viewers, according to a 2018 eMarketer report.

Younger audience driving mobile video watching. “Video accounts for more than half of total media consumption — and the time spent is growing at a faster rate than any other media,” reported the National Research Group (NRG) in its most recent study, “Handheld: Insights on the Evolution of Video.” The NRG’s findings are based on various data reports, and were commissioned by Snap Inc. to highlight how mobile video consumption is evolving.

NRG found that adults age 18 and over spend 11 hours with various media across devices (reading, browsing online, listening to audio, checking email, etc.), and that video consumption accounts for six of those eleven hours. NRG said two-thirds of Gen Z and Millennial audiences have increased the amount of mobile video they watch since last year, with the majority of this younger demographic watching more than an hour of short-form mobile video (videos 10-minutes or less in length) weekly.

What does this mean for advertisers? Last October, eMarketer estimated video accounted for 25% of digital ad spend in the U.S. in 2018. In February, it predicted digital ad spend would surpass traditional ad spend by the end of 2019, with TV ad spend seeing a 2.2 percent drop to $70.83 billion.

“For the first time, digital ad spending in the U.S. will exceed traditional ad spending,” wrote eMarketer in February. “By 2023, digital will surpass two-thirds of total media spending.”

As digital ad spend grows, so too does video ad spend. Last year, Twitter attributed more than half of its ad revenue during the first quarter on video ads. Snapchat reported its premium mobile video ads reached over 70 percent of the total 13- to 34-year-old U.S. population on a monthly basis during the last quarter of 2018. Facebook didn’t breakout its video ad earnings for the $16.6 billion in ad revenue it generated during the last quarter of 2018, but 4C CMO Aaron Goldman said he expects Facebook video advertising to see more activity this year.

“In 2019, video will become an even bigger focus with formats like Stories taking center stage across the Facebook Inc. portfolio, which includes Messenger and WhatsApp alongside Instagram and Facebook,” said Goldman, “We also expect growth with in-stream video as Facebook delivers more long-form, curated and original programming through Watch and IGTV.”

The video ad spend growth is a good sign advertisers are keeping up with video consumption trends. The big question is whether or not they are keeping up fast enough.

Why we should care. Mobile video consumption continues to rise and the ways people watch traditional TV are shifting, with live TV viewing among 18- to 24-year-olds on a steady decline since 2016, according to a Nielsen Total Audience Report from last year.

“The steady shift of consumer attention to digital platforms has hit an inflection point with advertisers, forcing them to now turn to digital to seek the incremental gains in reach and revenues which are disappearing in traditional media advertising,” said eMarketer forecasting director Monica Peart.

To remain ahead of the curve, marketers will have to stay on top of mobile video consumption trends more now than ever before. With such a major milestone underfoot — eMarketer’s prediction that mobile will surpass TV — advertisers’ attention will be two-fold: making sure their video ad investments keep pace with online video consumption, while also paying attention to how much ROI traditional TV ads are delivering.