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November 1, 2017

The Forgotten Screen? How Desktop PCs Are Faring In Today’s Cross-platform Environment

Comscore’s Cross-Platform Future in Focus report, released earlier this year, contained many interesting insights about cross-media usage for the full-year 2016, and their implications for the future. Much industry talk currently focuses on multi-platform or screen usage, by which is commonly meant TV versus digital viewership. However, we noticed that there is another screen type that is often overlooked: desktop PCs. Amidst all the talk about the supposed decline of traditional TV, it seems desktop PCs are the screens that might actually be faltering most, despite some obvious strengths. Let’s take a closer look.

According to comScore’s report, desktop usage by adults accounted for just under 31% of digital time spent, down 8% since 2013. In the same period, smartphone and tablet time spent was up 99% and 26%, respectively. In terms of unique visitors to the top 1,000 digital properties, 12.7 million accessed the properties through mobile devices, whereas only half that number (6.3 million) utilized their desktop PCs. In 2013 the margins were much tighter, with 8.1 million accessing the sites through digital, and 5.6 million through desktop PCs.

In terms of what people are doing online, social media takes the largest share of total digital time spent; of this, 79% is done through mobile devices. Another popular online activity, watching videos on YouTube, is also done primarily on mobile, with viewership three times higher on mobile than it is on PCs.

Even in terms of ad impact, mobile ads easily beat desktop ads in branding effectiveness, scoring double the lift in aided awareness, favorability and “likelihood to recommend,” and three times the lift in purchase intent.

However, desktop PCs still have a proverbial ace up their sleeve. Even though 67% of time spent shopping online was mobile, just over 20% of online dollars were actually spent through this platform. In fact, even as online retail spending reached an all-time high of $109.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016, a whopping 79% of it was spent shopping on a desktop. So consumers are window shopping on their smartphones and tablets, but laying down their credit cards when they sit down at their PCs. That’s quite a gap, and a definite plus for desktop usage.

Finally, although mobile screens exceed desktops in YouTube viewing, as comScore (rightly) points out, most of these are short form videos, and users still turn to their PCs when watching longer form (read: TV-style) videos. And ads that run during long form videos online perform quite well, and often feature ads that also run on TV.

Ultimately, mobile’s numbers are up, and PCs are down, but desktop screens still rake in the cash and feature a more favorable environment for TV-style ads. So for now, we’ll call it a draw.

Marketers Listen Up: Seniors Use Technology, Too!

Seniors continue to embrace technology at a rate that may not be on par with the younger population, but certainly should not be ignored by marketers, according to a Pew Research Center report. Two out of three adults 65+ use the internet and half have broadband connection in their homes. One in three use social media, and nearly half have smartphones, which is an increase of 24 percentage points since 2013.

Younger seniors more closely reflect the population as a whole. Seniors aged 65-69 reported using technology at a rate comparable to the overall population; 82% use the internet and two-thirds have broadband in their homes. The overall population numbers are 90% and 73%, respectively. Likewise, although only 34% of the 65+ population now use social media, this is a noticeable increase over the 27% who reported doing so in 2013.

The bottom line is that the use of technology has permeated all age groups and marketers should not ignore this fact.


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