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Why the Smartphone—Not the Tablet—Is the True Mobile Video Star

Mobile video is becoming increasingly popular for advertisers seeking to reach consumers engaged in immersive, full-screen experiences. These days, everyone is particularly infatuated with tablets, often for pretty solid reasons. Tablets encourage more video views per session and tend to have similar viewing patterns to television with most video views happening at home during primetime.

But despite all of this buzz, the good old smartphone, not the tablet, provides the greatest opportunity for mobile video advertising. There are two essential reasons for this: First, smartphones have critical mass. Second, smartphones have the vast majority of total video views. Ubiquity trumps screen size. The proof is in the numbers.

1. Smartphones have critical mass; tablets are still working on it.

According to eMarketer, there are over 140 million smartphone owners and about 123 million tablet owners in the US market. While those numbers might not seem too dissimilar, the user habits for smartphones and tablets tell a different story. According to recent data from Flurry Analytics, smartphones account for 79% of all mobile active consumers and 80% of total user sessions while tablets only account for 21% and 20%, respectively.  

You need only think about how you use your own smartphone and tablet to understand why these numbers are what they are.

2. The vast majority of mobile video views happen on smartphones, not tablets.

Flurry also found that smartphones account for 90% of time spent watching mobile video, with only the remaining 10% of time spent watching video on tablets. This is especially significant given that smartphones only account for 79% of active users.

Similarly, across Rhythm’s platform (which has a high percentage of tablet properties), 71% of mobile video consumption comes from smartphones with the remaining 29% coming from tablets.

This high rate of mobile video viewing on smartphones is likely attributable to the fact that smartphone consumers “snack” on both long and short form content throughout the waking day. Short clips are popular, and many smartphone users also watch long form content, starting a show on their phone in one location and picking it up in another. Taking their phones with them wherever they go (and often leaving tablets behind), smartphone owners watch video whenever it’s convenient, creating consistent opportunities for brand advertisers. 

A word to the wise marketer—even though tablets are alluring, don’t overlook the ubiquitous smartphone. It’s where engaged consumers are watching mobile video. 

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