Tom Webster, writing and speaking

The First Screen

Added on by Tom Webster.

Today, we released some brand new research over at my day job on The Smartphone Consumer 2012. This slice of the Edison/Arbitron Internet and Multimedia Research Series looks at those Americans 12+ who own smartphones, what they do with them, and--more importantly--how their behaviors are different. Yesterday I wrote about the mobile social habit, and how mobile users had quickly retrained themselves to turn to their devices for shorter and more frequent interactions with their social networks of choice. It's this aspect of smartphone usage--the way in which some pockets of Americans have completely retrained themselves with heretofore unobserved behaviors--that bears mention again here. Marketers and content programmers have, at various times in the past, referred to mobile as "the third screen." Some forward thinking marketers have moved it up in the heirarchy to second place, behind TV. Here's the thing: we'd be smart to stop prioritizing screens, and start segmenting people. Take at look at this nugget from The Smartphone Consumer 2012:

Amongst smartphone owners (who comprise 44% of Americans 12+), one-in-five have watched TV programming on their phones, and 13% have done so in the last month. Is this a mainstream behavior? No. Is this a common behavior for a sizable pocket of Americans? Yes. When we talk about this or that medium as the "third" or "fourth" screen, we gloss over the fact that, for millions of Americans, mobile is the First Screen. And even for those Americans who haven't quite made that leap, mobile is the *only* screen when they are out-of-home. All of this requires a shift in your strategic thinking. Having a "mobile strategy" isn't about planning for devices, or making tiny versions of your site.

It's about understanding the First Screen consumer.

Download your copy of The Smartphone Consumer 2012 here, and for more information on our upcoming Social Habit research, do sign up at