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Mobile vs. desktop in the world of Millennials

Mobile vs. desktop in the world of Millennials Gali Arnon

The majority of Millennials are increasingly relying on their mobile devices for internet use. In fact, this generation browses the internet via a mobile browser up to three times more than they do on desktop sites. Given the advances in mobile technology, it is no surprise that this is a growing preference of this group.

Desktop decline

There have been substantial year-over-year drops in desktop usage, according to comScore. For instance, in December 2015, desktop browsing decreased 9.5 percent compared to December 2014. This downward trend has continued through 2016.

In fact, as of Q1 2016, users spent more than one trillion minutes online with mobile devices, which is almost double the time they spent on their desktops. While comScore found that one in five Millennials no longer use a desktop computer, they noted that most Millennials don't necessarily use their mobile devices exclusively; most still consider themselves multi-platform users. This underscores the fact that though desktop browsing is in decline, the desktop platform is still relevant, even among Millennials.

Millennials' browsing behavior

Though mobile seems to be their preferred platform for digital consumption, when on desktop, Millennials spend more time on each website than when viewing it from their mobile devices. This contributes to the fact that desktop currently remains a more profitable platform for ad revenue. However, this is forecasted to change within the next two years.

Currently however, display ads perform almost ten times better on mobile than on desktop. Meanwhile, native video ads, which have long been proven to be more profitable than display ads, perform two times better than display ads both on mobile and desktop. Regarding video ad completion rates, those viewed on mobile devices garner a 74 percent completion rate among Millennials, while those viewed on desktop reach 67 percent.

Mobile-first but not mobile-only

At the end of 2013, browsing on mobile devices grew by about 75 percent, especially with the growing mobile presence on Facebook. Since then, it has slowed to 50-60 percent. Publishers' transition to mobile has been gradual, but the pace has intensified. Today, publishers understand that Millennials, especially those between the ages of 18-25, are a mobile-first generation.

As previously mentioned, the fact that Millennials are mobile-first does not mean that they are mobile-only, reaffirms Deloitte. In some cases involving viewing video and online gaming content, Millennials often prefer desktop to mobile devices for their viewing experiences. While publishers try to optimize their video ad units for mobile as part of having a mobile strategy in place, they should not abandon ad spending intended for desktop.

The data corroborates that while mobile is the future, it may not altogether replace desktop. They also find that publishers who are investing in creating mobile apps should also focus on driving user traffic to download the apps. Data shows that mobile web browsing is currently more natural for users. Publishers should continue collecting data about how to best utilize and optimize mobile.

Enhanced engagement among Millennials

No matter what platform is being used to view content, publishers are taking a closer look at what does and doesn't appeal to Millennial audiences. Our own research found that video content is driving enhanced engagement among Millennials. Publishers should therefore pay attention to completion rates and share metrics to learn which video works. Such data will help determine how to continue to reach and connect with Millennials.

According to a recent IAB report on multiscreen video best practices, mobile video is a key way of reaching and impacting Millennials. When it comes to video length, Millennials prefer ads that are shorter in length (10 seconds or less), as they are sensitive to ad clutter. However, ads that try to provide too much information within a few seconds may lead to confusion and minimize message takeaway. So even among Millennials, 30-second videos should be considered when communicating new or complex information.

A tough, selective audience

Millennials cannot be fooled with clickbait. In today's on-demand era of instant gratification, users' levels of expectation have risen tremendously. If they are promised an amazing user experience by clickbait thumbnail pictures, content or headlines, then it needs to be delivered. Otherwise, they will leave the site.

"Millennials are a tough, selective audience. Their attention spans are short given all of the online content they are exposed to. Therefore, details, quality and accuracy are of huge importance," says Ori Elraviv, CEO at Literally Media. "Publishers must be meticulous with how they use headlines and thumbnail pictures across all platforms."

Shaping the digital future

Though mobile is the driving force of the future, it still does not mark the end of the road for desktop and laptop computers. They are still vital in business, and will remain so. Technology will continue to evolve, and Millennial users will continue to adapt to it. It remains to be seen how their digital behavior and preferences will shape desktop and mobile platforms in the future.

Mrs. Gali Arnon is the CEO of Brightcom, a leading global ad tech and multi-channel media company. Gali brings more than 15 years of senior management experience, leading large organizations and divisions within various industries, including the...

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