Breaking news this week, coinciding with Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, is that Apple will reportedly launch its biggest phone yet in just a few months time. With a screen measuring close to 6.5 inches diagonally, Apple’s new handset (internally dubbed the 'D32') will be one of the largest mainstream smartphones on the market.
That got us thinking: do you remember that scene in Zoolander where Derek pulls out his ridiculously tiny mobile phone, almost pinching the micro-device as he holds it up to his ear? Whether you feel that movie represents the heights of cinematographic brilliance or not, it was a tongue-in-cheek statement about this way technology seemed to be headed in the early 2000s. Everything was getting smaller and more compact, and the ‘micro-mobile’ almost seemed to be the logical conclusion of the trend.
But in the real world, 17 years on from Zoolander’s release in 2001, the trend has swung completely the other way. New data from Flurry Analytics shows that the ‘Phablet’ (that is essentially the device-size between the traditional smartphone and tablet - with a screen size of 5.5 to 7 inches) is now the dominant form factor across global markets.
Making up just 1% of the of active smartphones worldwide in 2012, Phablet devices accounted for 55% of all active devices in 2017 (up from 41% in 2016). Last year in fact, every flagship device from top-tier phone manufacturers had 5" screens or larger. So they weren’t all phablets, but many of the most popular phones of last year did fit that definition, including the iPhone X and Samsung S8, both measuring 5.8” diagonally.
Growth in the popularity of phablets has come partly at the expense of ‘medium-sized’ smartphones, with 9% of the growth in active phablets a result of medium-sized phone users upgrading to larger-screen options. It also seems to have come at the expense of tablets, with global sales having now declined for 13 quarters in a row. Q4 2017, for example, saw a 7.9 percent year-over-year decline in tablet sales worldwide. Consumers seem to feel a phablet gives them the best of both a phone and a tablet.
So what does this mean for social advertisers? How can you, as a social advertiser, make sure you’re capitalising on this trend? Read on for our 3 big tips:
Target phablet users with app-install campaigns
Flurry’s data shows phablet owners open 21% more apps per day than medium-sized phone owners, and use these apps on average 3.5% longer. This is probably due to the better user experience related to navigating menus, playing games and messaging on a larger screen. All of this means phablet users could represent more loyal app users for your business. If you’re a MakeMeReach user, why not make the most of our advanced targeting options by running a campaign with the app-download objective, targeted at specific phone models like the iPhone 8 Plus?
Target phablet users with video ads
Mobile devices are projected to account for 61% of online video views this year, rising to 72% in 2019. The ‘rise of the phablet’ is undoubtedly fuelling this growth, or is at least a response to consumers’ desires to consume video on mobile. It therefore stands to reason that the improved UX of a larger screen, means phablet users will engage more with video. You could test this out by setting up an A/B test on your Facebook and Instagram ads, for example, to see if there is any improvement between serving phablet users the same ads in link format, versus video format.
Keep time of day in mind
Phablets are two-handed devices. If you’ve ever tried using one hand to text or navigate an app on your Samsung S8+, you’ll know the struggle. Another result of their sheer size is that people don’t tend to carry their phablets around in their trouser pockets - that is, unless you’re sporting your trusty ol’ cargo pants with the massive, military-grade pockets.
The size means more phablet owners stow their devices in bags or internal jacket pockets, making them less accessible during travel and other activities. It takes that little bit more effort to get your phone out of your bag, compared to simply reach into your jeans pocket to pull out your regular smartphone.
All of this means it’s possible that phablet owners are less engaged with their devices during specific times of the day. The morning commute on a packed city train, for example, might mean one hand is needed to hold the handrail, making it almost impossible to reply to those backed-up instagram comments.
For social advertisers, this means you’ll need to test different approaches - maybe it’s not worth trying to push ads to phablet-sized devices during commuting times? Over to you to run some variations and find out!
To sum it all up, the phablet revolution has well and truly occurred, and big phones are here to stay. Phablet users demonstrate slightly different behaviour from other smartphone users, and as social advertisers it’s time to think about different ways of targeting them that fit their needs and behaviour.
About Joe Sweeney Content Marketing Manager here at MakeMeReach, Joe is a words guy. Joe's a qualified marketer who believes in the power of quality content to start great conversations between consumers and brands. He also hosts our weekly social media podcast!All posts by Joe Sweeney
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