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The home advantage: Mobile?s use throughout the day grows

Marketers often think in terms of mobile being a way to reach consumers when they are on the go but as the smartphone?s importance for consumers grows, these devices are playing a bigger role throughout the day and even at home, opening up new opportunities that go beyond second-screen engagements. 

Targeting smartphone users who are at home and watching television has been an active marketing area for a couple of years now. However, consumers are already increasingly using their phones while at home to research purchases ? even when a PC is nearby ? and in-home use is only going to increase as adoption of wearables and smart home devices grows.

?Consumers are no longer simply using their smartphones during the day for phone calls and messaging- smartphones are now vital tools that consumers keep at arms reach twenty-four hours a day,? said Guillaume Lelait, vice president of North America, Fetch.

?Brands should consider targeted messaging based on user location, behavior, and time of day when thinking about the time of ad format and messaging they want to serve to their consumers,? he said.

?For example, consumers are more wiling to watch a video ad in the evening when they are at home when they are generally less distracted.? 

More important than deodorant
The growing use of smartphones throughout the day is reflected how important consumers view these devices, with a recent Bank of America report finding that 94 percent of consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 years old view their smartphones as very important to their daily lives compared to 90 percent who said deodorant and 93 percent who said their toothbrush.

Just how popular it has become for consumers to engage on social media from their mobile device while watching a favorite program is evident in the results from the recent World Cup, which was the biggest social event ever.

The number of Facebook and Twitter engagements reached new records, surpassing the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards and the Sochi Winter Olympics. While the numbers are not broken down by device or whether the access took place via at-home Wi-Fi or a mobile network, both social networks see strong mobile use in general and are popular with TV viewers. 

Primary connection devices
A new xAd report found that 61 percent of consumers in Britain said that the last time they used their device they were at home. 

The in-home use of smartphones suggests that consumers are turning to their smartphones for research and purchase decisions while at home.

For marketers, this means having a strong mobile search experience is crucial.

?With the increased performance, ease of use, screen size and airplay capabilities, smartphones have become the primary connection device in many homes,? said Ryan Wofford, director of digital strategy at BFG. 

?Rather than getting up and moving to sit in front of the desktop, or dragging the laptop over to the couch, it's just easier to pick up the phone to do a quick search to settle that argument of which episode of Saved by the Bell the TV actor - now in his 30s - was on, or Google more info on the product that just appeared during commercial break,? he said.

?The implications are that brands and services need to be searchable, have quick access to the information consumers are searching, and deliver it in a mobile-friendly format that is easy to consume and carries through all the way to purchase, if that is a desired goal.?

Samsung unveils smart home products

More targeted ads
Google is one company that has recognized the growing importance of mobile?s at-home use. This is one reason the company recently purchased smart home device maker Nest for $3.2 billion. The deal points to how Google can position smartphones to be a remote control for consumers? lives by providing a direct link to home devices such as a smart thermostat, refrigerator and more (see story). 

For marketers, this could mean an opportunity to deliver more targeted ads on smartphones. For example, a battery company would send an ad to a smartphone when the user?s Nest battery is low. Or a skincare brand could advertise when the heat is turned up during the winter months and consumers need more moisturizing products.

Adidas is one marketer that has recognized the growth in the use of mobile at home and is creating experiences with this in mind.

?With the World Cup just wrapping up this past weekend, some of the key sponsors, such as Adidas, did a great job of having a truly mobile-optimized experience for fans and consumers,? BFG?s Mr. Wofford said. ?Their mobile-optimized home page led with key messaging from the tournament, delivered unique content, and always attempted to drive sales, by offering products peppered through the experience.?

Specific use cases
Samsung is also jumping on the smartphone?s potential in driving the smart home experience, having launched an application that enables users to connect with various Samsung appliances, including refrigerators, washing machines, ovens and vacuum cleaners. The app provides remote accessing, enabling users to control the appliances from anywhere inside or outside the house.

Apple is also eyeing the smart home market and is reportedly working on its first iBeacon hardware and has supposedly assembled a team to work on developing smart home solutions.

Since the use case of mobile at home is likely to be different that for on-the-go consumers, it is clear that marketers need to be taking the at-home user in mind in their mobile strategies.

?Savvy brand marketers can combine search history, device data, and location data to deliver customized messaging and creative to consumers in the home,? Fetch?s Mr. Lelait said. ?Mobile ad platform leaders such as xAd specially in delivering targeted mobile ads based on accurate user location and search context - their SmartFencing technology can adjust a marketer's targeting area based on real-time historical data. 

?Marketers can also build consumer profiles based on smartphone and tablet specific use cases, and build copy that is relevant for each context,? he said. ?Additionally, they can leverage ad formats that deliver unique experiences by devices.  

?Marketers can use  geo-fence locations such as apartment buildings or suburban neighborhoods to deliver ads to specific consumer segments. They can even target specific mobile devices to deliver context specific messaging- for example, Apple's iAd platform enables bespoke creative formats for both iPhone and iPad users.? 

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York