You’re staring at your phone five hours a day!

The Mary Meeker annual KPBC Internet Trends Report is intelligence that we look forward to each year, as it recognizes and validates the things we’re seeing day-to-day in the mobile messaging space – and beyond. The amount of data that comes from the report is staggering, and a lot to comb through. In case you haven’t had a chance to dig into it yourself, here are a few pieces of data we found interesting and promising for the future of mobile messaging.

Mobile continues to grow and consumers are spending more than five hours a day on their mobile devices.

According to GSMA, more than two-thirds of the world is now connected to a mobile service, and Mary Meeker reports that there’s a $16 billion opportunity for ad growth in the U.S. alone. Users are increasingly spending more time on their mobile devices. In fact, Flurry Research recently reported that consumers spend more than five hours a day on their devices. And as history has shown us, where the users are, the ad dollars will follow.

However, mobile consumers aren’t interested in traditional mobile ads as evident by the implementation of ad blockers. Brands are forced to reach mobile consumers in more engaging ways. And with more than three billion users on mobile messaging apps, brands have realized that engaging with users in those apps is a more effective strategy than investing in traditional (and often intrusive) mobile ads.  

While brands might not be completely shifting away from traditional digital ads, they are moving their ad dollars to more progressive techniques like building branded experiences and assets in mobile messaging. Just recently, luxury brands Longchamp and Burberry started experimenting with selling their products through China’s most popular messaging app, WeChat. Earlier this year, Tencent (WeChat’s parent company), made enhancements to its WeChat app making it easier to launch advertising campaigns and set up full shops for luxury brands. WeChat’s functionality goes beyond purchasing goods – users can pay bills, chat with friends and play games, among other activities – and these brands are seeing the benefit of being where the people are spending their time on mobile devices.

ROI measurement is a challenge for social marketing – but brands are recognizing the value in engagement.

According the report, marketers are spending more on social ads, but the ROI is not apparent. However, a primary indicator of ROI is engagement, and mobile messaging offers a unique solution for measuring this in terms of time spent within the app and frequency of use of content within the app. It is important to have access to real-time analytics and dashboards to understand what content is resonating, where its resonating and how it’s being shared. This allows brands to have flexibility to adjust campaigns and focus in on the assets that are striking a chord with consumers.

The key takeaway here is that more digital ad dollars are shifting to what was long considered non-traditional mobile advertising. Consumers want a genuine experience. They are not likely to click on banner ads – but more likely to become brand advocates and engage with your brand if you provide something entertaining and of value. However, measurement is key. Brands must understand how engagement is converting to revenue and brand loyalty. The good news is that metrics and measurement is becoming more sophisticated with the advent of things like clickable stickers and other third party measurement tools.

With consumers staring at their phones for more than five hours a day – brands that don’t play along are missing the boat. It’s rare someone will buy a new pair of shoes by clicking on a mobile banner ad – but when they stumble across a fun sticker pack or GIF with their favorite shoe brand, they are most likely going to share that with a friend as part of the conversation. Engagement drives awareness drives sales.