Just a mere half-year ago, Apple introduced the long-awaited Screen Time tools we all know and love today to promote a lower average time spent online. They’re pretty much what one would assume they are—features developed and, along with an update, were added into the settings of all iPhones specifically to help reduce the average time spent online and amount of time people are spending on their phones.
These include Downtime, meant to silence distractions during certain hours, App Limits, which can notify you when you hit certain time limits in certain categories of apps, and Content & Privacy Restrictions, to limit the types of content you and/or your family can be exposed to.
Now, of course, smartphones—which we touch an average of 2,600 times a day—are the main culprit, but the average time spent online is actually much more profound.
Of course, we already knew that.
The average time spent online (spoiler: it’s a lot)
According to Nielsen, adults in the U.S. spend up to 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading, or generally interacting with media. To put an advertising spin on that statistic, programmatic inventory has opened up to include all of those things and more, further proving that it doesn’t really matter the medium—we’re online and being targeted with advertisements pretty much the entire time we’re awake, despite users reducing their average time spent online.
As a marketer, that statistic—as much as I hate to admit it—is pure gold. We have about 11 hours per day to reach potential customers online. Who wouldn’t want that?
Well, those customers. That’s who.
Just because the majority of people in the country spend most of their time consuming some form of media doesn’t mean they welcome intrusive, uninteresting ads all day every day. They look at reducing their average time spent online In fact, 43 percent of respondents in our digital advertising trends survey admitted feeling negatively towards ads. This is compared to a similar survey from 2017 where only 34 percent reported a negative sentiment, further revealing that hard feelings may be on the rise.
The biggest reason behind the hard feelings? Respondents said it’s because they were being shown the same ad multiple times.
Marketers, this is our time to shine. The fact that both tech suppliers and their users are making more of an effort to reduce screen time doesn’t necessarily mean we have fewer ways to reach them—it just means we need to reach them in ways they won’t hate.
We have a unique opportunity to engage with consumers in more meaningful ways. Ways that won’t feel annoying, intrusive, or inauthentic. Marketers can be more thoughtful to take advantage of consumers reducing their average time spent online. This is our chance to connect. And you know what happens when you connect with people? You not only gain customers, but you gain loyal ones. Jackpot.
Tech addiction: kind of a bummer
Disclaimer: Experts are still unsure whether or not “addiction” is the right term to use. The problem often referred to as “tech addiction” may be more behavioral, like gambling, as opposed to an addiction to a drug like tobacco. Regardless, even tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Instagram—who, yes, make their money off of the use of their tech—are encouraging their users to reduce screen time.
Marketers and advertisers want people to be online despite users reducing their average time spent online. Not only that, they want multiple ways in which to connect with them, and they have them! In fact, I even wrote a post not too long ago about how to reach customers where they are through voice, Connected TV, and more, but the trick is to do it right.
Although consumers are reducing screen time, they’re still spending plenty of their time absorbing media in one way or another, as seen in the numbers above. How can we connect with them more authentically, so that they feel the time they are spending online isn’t being completely wasted?
You know your customer better than anyone. If you met them on the street, what would you say to them? How do you pitch your business at conferences? How do you explain your product to friends or family? Keep those things in mind while you also follow these best practices.
- Remember this rule from college, “KISS: Keep it simple, stupid”? Ads should be two main things: 1. Easy to read, and 2. Compel the user to click. Where that click leads them to, aka a landing page, will contain the bulk of the information they need to know about your product or service.
- Take a cue from some of the best journalists out there and utilize conversational copy. This may feel more common for longer-form copywriting like blogs, but it can be easily applied to ads. Here are some great examples.
- Last but certainly not least, authentic messaging will always win over salesy, pushy language. Always.
The look and feel of your ad creative go hand-in-hand with the messaging that will go along with it. When designing your creatives, keep these few things in mind to really maximize the user experience.
- One size doesn’t fit all; tailor your creatives to each different audience in your campaign.
- Avoid using blinking, flashing, or fast-moving graphics. These can be harmful to those with certain medical conditions and can very easily be perceived as gimmicky, resulting in a poor reflection on your brand.
- Get creative with your call to action. Simple CTAs like “learn more” and “buy now” are, eh, okay, but to really encourage interaction from consumers, try to err on the side of originality (as long as it stays on-brand).
The world we live in today is extremely personalized. Making sure you personalize a user’s ad experience is a more refined, advanced targeting technique that’s not only going to showcase that you have a more comprehensive marketing strategy, but it’s going to help keep your customer engaged throughout their journey.
Here are some ways to get personal with your targeting using first-party data:
- Retargeting. Retargeting, when used in conjunction with other strategies, is perhaps one of the most popular and effective targeting tactics out there. For users who have given you permission to collect their user profiles, of course, you can create ads that are tailored just for them. One of the best retargeting tactics is to reach back out to site visitors with a special offer or another incentive that will encourage them to come back. Just don’t be pushy or creepy about it.
- CRM targeting. CRM targeting is another effective way to reach customers who have already shown interest in your product or service. A common example of CRM is a current email marketing list. As with any first-party data, before uploading this data into any DSP, it’s absolutely necessary to make sure you have permission to use it.
- IP address targeting. IP targeting allows you to reach a more granular audience by location, industry, or specific company. You can also exclude audiences if you want to remove internal teams from your campaign.
As consumers shift more and more toward a “less screen time, more face time” (and no, not the iPhone app) mentality, the time they spend online is going to become more and more valuable to marketers. How will you make the most of it?