Sometime in early 2014 internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC usage for the first time. It is now clear that mobile is overtaking news websites and blog sites, it looks as though tablet sales are climbing more slowly, and people are turning to social media to get their news. Times certainly are changing.
Websites are finding it increasingly difficult to monetize their platforms as advertising revenues fall due to the trend towards mobile. Smartphone and tablet users are sensitive to how and where advertisements appear on their devices, and they have little tolerance for pop-up ads. Ad placement and form is tricky to get right on a small screen. As more readers get their news and services through mobile social apps like Twitter and Facebook as well as from news aggregators like Buzzfeed and Digg, the information that they seek out becomes more focused and narrower in scope.
People are able to follow and select only the information that interests them, which makes marketing to them easier in some ways and more difficult in others. Certainly knowing with laser-like precision exactly who the target market is can make marketing campaigns specific and concise, but at the same time advertisers are preaching to the choir, as it were.
Smartphone users spend a lot of the time on their devices reading news and unless it offers some real benefit, sponsored content, also known as “advertorials” are a real turn off. Some companies who depended on sponsored content to generate revenue are suffering and even failing.
Independent news providers and news bloggers are scrambling to monetize their pages and sites now that smartphone usage is dominating the space. Smartphones users tend to employ ad-blocker software in great numbers, which limits the reach of marketing and ad campaigns.
Right now the biggest provider of news to smartphone users is Facebook. Imagine that. Their members find, read, watch, share and comment on the news in numbers twice as large as those of Youtube, which is the next most popular site used. Twitter and Linkedin Pulse are used far less than the two at the top, but it appears that Twitter is tweaking its real-time news feed so that it is accessible across platforms and even outside of the Twitter app. This new offering is called Project Lightning.
For the first three years of this decade tablet sales continued to increase every year as manufactures kept a constant stream of new hardware appearing on the market. Apple and Samsung became the leaders in the hardware game, and they remain so, but sales seem to be reaching a plateau. One reason could be that people do not replace their tablets as quickly as they do their smartphones. It is not apparent yet that sales are actually declining, but that year-over-year purchase numbers are less. One bright light in the tablet sector could be that a developing trend is that businesses are adopting them as critical methods of communication in the workplace and outside.