In Consumer Insights

This week, I attended the MRMW Europe (Market Research in the Mobile World) conference in London, where I spoke alongside Paul Neto, Senior Research Director at YuMe, a leading video ad network and one of our key research partners for studying the behavior of digital video consumers. We discussed “A Day in the Life of a Digital Video Consumer,” which highlighted some of our recent research about how devices influence online video consumption habits and consumer behaviors. (You can download the full presentation here, or contact us directly to chat.)

What is Mobile?

I started by addressing some key trends that are taking place around all of us. First of all, what is mobile and what is not mobile?

At Verto Analytics, we talk about a cross-device world rather than a mobile world, partly because definition of a mobile device is increasingly blurred. Today, most people assume that wearables constitute a mobile device. But what about the Amazon Echo, or Google Glass? What about smart TVs or the Google Chromecast? Are these actually part of the IoT? Or is IoT part of mobile? Instead of siloing these devices into separate categories, we should acknowledge that there are different internet-connected devices with different user interfaces, from large horizontal screens tiny watch screens to voice guided user interfaces. Some of these devices are optimized for video, and some are not. However, the world of media and advertising should assess all these screens in tandem.

The other key topic I discussed was industry cycles. The internet started with static text before moving into audio and then social media apps and services. Today, video consumption is driving the time that people spend online, and consumers are moving from TVs to new screens to consume both short-form and long-form video.


Paul expounded on these ideas and explained decision to segment video consumers based on behavioral characteristics, noting that “deep understanding of the complexity and contextuality of today’s video consumption should be better understood. At YuMe, we see liquid consumers, who move from one device to another seamlessly, in nonlinear ways. For our clients, and ourselves, to build a bigger business, these dynamics should be quantified and fully embraced in planning and execution of video advertising.”

To understand this viewing behavior, and subsequently to better understand the different types of online video consumers in today’s market, there are four key concepts to be aware of:

  1. Multi-Device is the Rule, Not the Exception

Today, as a rule, the average consumer interacts with the internet across multiple devices. If you do not assess the dynamics of multi-device and simultaneous usage, you cannot understand what the consumer is doing, and why. For example, if you see that a consumer purchased a smart TV from eBay, but you do not see their preceding search history on mobile, you have an incomplete story. Likewise, if you see that a user uploads a scuba diving video on YouTube with his tablet,, but you did not have access to his smartphone data that revealed that he is on the Maldives on holiday, you would miss part of the story as a researcher. Verto’s cross-device audience measurement framework addresses these challenges by measuring the consumer on all of his devices all the time.

  1. The Rise of the Smart TV and Other Devices

In the U.S. and in the UK, user growth in the PC and laptop markets is either shrinking or at zero growth, while the smartphone and tablet market is also showing signs of stagnation. But the user base for smart TVs, OTT devices, and game consoles continues is one of the fastest-growing device sectors – in the U.S. alone, there are more than 50 million active monthly adult users, and our data indicates that this strong growth will continue into the next year.

  1. Size Matters

There is an important correlation between device screen size and video content playback formats. Smartphones, tablets, and PCs attract more users who view short-form content, while smart TVs, OTT devices, and gaming consoles are more often used to view long-form video. For example, tablets claim almost three times as many short-form video consumers as smart TVs, but they share an equal user base (52 million U.S. adults each) when it comes to long-form video consumption — despite the fact that there are far more tablets in the U.S. market). There also more granular differences in consumer behavior: only 14% of smartphone video time is spent on long-form video, but it constitutes 34% of viewing time on tablets.

  1. Analyzing The Second Screen

We discovered some interesting insights when analyzing simultaneous usage — ie., when two or more devices are used to both view video and access another online service — including sessions across PCs, tablets, and smartphones. Our key finding is that the larger screen dominates for video consumption whenever there is simultaneous usage taking place. Consumers who simultaneously used a PC as well as a mobile device typically viewed the video content on the PC — the larger screen — rather than on the mobile device, be it a tablet or smartphone. The same applies to simultaneous use of a tablet and smartphone — the tablet is predominantly used for video consumption.

Interested in learning more about our data on streaming video consumption and audience behavior? Contact us for a copy of the presentation, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest updates.

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