It’s the week of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, and yesterday a tweet reminded me that it’s also the 11-year anniversary of Apple’s unveiling of the first iPhone during CES 2007. That got me thinking about how quickly smartphone usage grew in the last decade. In 2006, the year before the iPhone was introduced, smartphone penetration was at 3 percent. By the end of 2016, more than 81 percent of U.S. adults owned a smartphone.
Prior to the iPhone, there were (technically) already smartphones on the market. Smartphones had actually been around for 15 years. The first personal digital assistant combined with a cell phone was released 1992 by Simon.
By the time the iPhone came out, Blackberries and Palms were already commonplace in large companies, but few members of the public saw a use for them. The release of the iPhone brought about a wave of change and made smartphone ownership common outside of the workplace. The consumer mobile revolution began.
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The adoption rate of smartphones triggered major changes in the way consumers find and consume information for professional and business use. For advertisers, this has lead to a significant transformation in the methods you use to connect with consumers.
One of the most significant ways smartphones have changed consumer behavior is they allow users to stay connected 24/7. Consumers use their phones for everything – getting directions, conducting searches, checking the weather and communicating with people through a variety of apps.
To celebrate the iPhone’s recent birthday, let’s talk about the relationship between the role smartphones play in consumers’ daily lives and what that means for advertisers like you who are trying to connect with those users.
Optimizing for mobile traffic
For the past few years, more web traffic has come from mobile devices than computers. For brands, it’s no longer an option, websites need to be mobile-friendly or responsive. It’s a primary factor in Google rankings and can greatly influence where your business shows up in search results. Plus, consumers conduct most of their searches from mobile phones or tablets, so it’s important that your site is designed to provide the information they’re looking for with the least amount of frustration possible.
Reaching consumers in-app
A decade ago, you probably weren’t thinking about the best ways to advertise in an app. But, thanks to the iPhone and the evolution of smartphones in general, that’s all changed. In 2018, smartphone users will spend more than three hours a day in-app, according to eMarketer. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram ads are now at the forefront of mobile advertising and there’s an entirely separate market which revolves around those little banners and pop-ups in weather, gaming and shopping apps.
Finding consumers trying to find local businesses
Three-fourths of smartphone users turn to search first to address immediate needs, according to Google. Often, these searchers are looking for important local business information. For local brands, this makes optimized online business listings more important than ever. A decade ago, businesses’ online listings were an afterthought. Now, they mean the difference between being found and a potential customer going to your competitor.
If a customer is two blocks from you and searches for your product on their phone, you don’t want them turning to a competitor because they can’t find your address on your business listings or website.
Connecting with consumers via video
For consumers, smartphones are so intertwined in everyday life that the devices are used for a variety of purposes – both business and leisure, sometimes within the same channel. An example of this is digital video. In 2017, about 160 million people in the United States watched videos on their smartphones, according to eMarketer.
And, consumers aren’t just watching cute animal videos or clips of their favorite shows, they’re also watching informational videos to help them research and make purchases.
Product review videos are an especially great way for advertisers to reach interested audiences. In the past 2 years, videos with the word “review” in the title had more than 50,000 years of watch time on mobile alone.
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It’s been 11 years since the release of the iPhone, and the way we search, live and advertise has changed in ways many would never have imagined. Change is inevitable. Sometimes it’s slow, like with the introduction of the television, and sometimes it’s fast, like with smartphones. Consumers crave innovations that will make their lives easier. As advertisers, we should be watching for the same things so we can keep up with where our consumers are. You never know when the next game changer is going to hit the market.