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Device fatigue is real

Too Many Devices: What Device Trends Mean for Advertisers

September 30th, 2019   ||    by Callie Wheeler

The idea that we may have too many devices is a thoroughly modern one. While our parents were lucky to have one television in the house, we walk around with multiple pseudo-TVs in our purses, pockets, and backpacks every day.

For the viewer, this is a television lover’s paradise. Your choices are endless: watch a show on the big television at home, on your phone in the cab, on your tablet by the pool, or on your laptop at the office. And yet some devices are already on the cusp of obsolescence, a natural result of overabundance, and it’s causing some viewers to question how many they really need.

For advertisers, viewers’ changing device preferences present both challenges and opportunities. Keeping up with those preferences is key to effective reach.

Growing Number of Devices

Most households consume media via multiple devices and have for years. But the number of connected devices per household is growing at an astonishing rate. According to NCTA, the average American owns eight devices, but that number is expected to grow to nearly 14 by 2022. While some of these devices may be smart speakers or smart appliances, there is broad agreement their proliferation ultimately carries with it an increase in streaming media.

Some observers are already starting to question the utility of such a broad range of options. Citing redundancy in function, stress of management, and cost of acquisition, this HuffPost piece made the argument that it may be time to downsize.

Shifting Trends in Devices

Smartphone ownership has been steadily increasing over the past decade and shows no sign of slowing. Other devices are evolving or combining, like built-in Chromecast in new smart TVs. But the one device that has been declining in popularity for years—sales dropping for more than 15 straight quarters as reported by The Verge—is the tablet. As smartphone screens have grown and laptops have morphed to include tablet-like features, the tablet has lost its unique value in the device lineup.

Advertising Across Devices

So what do these facts mean for advertisers? There are a few points to remember:

  • Cross-device viewing is the new norm. This reality should be factored into your creative approach, your budget, and your measurement.
  • Data will always be the key to effectively reaching your audience. How do you know which programs they’re viewing, which devices they’re using, and how engaged they are? Data. Starting with first-party data and then augmenting with a trusted partner or platform, advertisers can strategically target and engage their audiences.
  • Keeping up with viewers’ preferences is important. If tablet sales are declining and smartphone media streaming is increasing, make sure your focus is on ad formats and investments aligned to your audience’s actual usage. Anticipating what’s next, whether new devices or advances in delivery, will ensure you are both reactive and proactive.

In the end, even if there are too many devices today, one is not just enough anymore. Advertisers will find their audience engaged across many channels and devices; it’s your job to make sure you have a solid data foundation and familiarity with your audience to effectively reach them.

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