Advertisers are still missing out on the mobile opportunity


author name

Given the recent furor over mobile data privacy, it's interesting to note how much simply owning a smartphone reveals about the consumer in question, regardless of which apps they access and which services they use on the device itself. Smartphone ownership is closely related to both age and income according to a new Nielsen survey: While overall U.S. smartphone penetration now stands at 48 percent, the number rises to 66 percent in the 25-to-34 demographic, with eight out of 10 respondents who purchased a new mobile device in the last three months selecting a smartphone. At the other end of the spectrum, just 22 percent of consumers 65 and up own smartphones, although 43 percent of seniors who bought a phone in the last three months went the smartphone route. 

No surprise, but Nielsen adds that smartphone ownership corresponds with annual income across all age groups. Eighty percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 who earn more than $100,000 annually own smartphones, more than any other demographic segment. Three quarters of consumers between 35 and 44 who bring home $100k or more also own smartphones. Nielsen notes that consumers between 55 and 64 making more than $100k a year are almost as likely to own smartphones as Americans between 35 and 44 who make between $35,000 and $75,000 a year. 

Consumers between 25 and 34 with higher levels of disposable income aren't just more likely to own smartphones--they're also more likely to interact with mobile advertisements, according to new data published by mobile application analytics firm Flurry. Taking a sample of 60,000 daily active users on Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS platform, Flurry calculated the eCPM (effective cost per mille) earned by publishers, and determined that women between the ages of 25 and 34 fetch the highest eCPMs at $12.92, followed by men in the same age bracket at $7.80. Looking at eCPMs by household income, Flurry determined that income ranges between $60,000 and $100,000 are the most valuable, with households bringing in between $100k and $150k also performing well.

"Smart device owners are, on average, more affluent and more educated," writes Flurry vice president of marketing Peter Farago on the firm's blog. "Leading sociologists William Thompson and Joseph Hickey define this class as 'the rich' or 'upper middle class,' comprised of highly educated salaried professionals whose work is largely self-directed. Typical professions for this class include lawyers, physicians, dentists, engineers, accountants, professors, architects, economists and political scientists. What bodes best for the outlook of mobile advertising is the quality and quantity of the audience that not only uses smartphones and tablets, but also interacts with ads on these devices."

But even though U.S. adults of all ages, backgrounds and professions now spend more time each day on mobile devices than they do with traditional print media, advertisers continue to allocate a disproportionate amount of their spending on newspapers and magazines. Flurry reports that American consumers now devote 40 percent of their media consumption time to television viewing, followed by mobile at 23 percent, the web at 16 percent, radio at 9 percent and print at 6 percent. But marketers haven't kept pace with changing consumer behaviors, earmarking 43 percent of their 2011 spending on television campaigns, followed by print at 29 percent, the web at 16 percent, radio at 11 percent. Mobile spending lags far behind at just 1 percent. Smartphone owners may be brainier than the average consumer, but the marketers who covet them need to get smarter.--Jason