Mobile Users Consuming More Content Than Ever, Nielsen Declares

iphone 5 PR image White - P 2012

iphone 5 PR image White - P 2012

Geeky gadgets, mobile advertising, action-based content and discussion panels mark the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the world's largest wireless event.

MADRID - Consumers are not abandoning one platform for another—they are spending more time than ever viewing and reading content, according to Nielsen Vice Chair Susan Whiting, who participated in a panel discussion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Wednesday.

"A report we released here demonstrates this very clearly," Whiting said. "Roughly one-third of Chinese smartphone users we surveyed online said they have actually increased their viewing of traditional TV, despite also watching video on their mobile devices."

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Whiting is in Barcelona as one of the keynote speakers at the world's largest mobile device trade show, which runs Feb. 25-28.

The panel  looked at what it called a "second round of disruption" in traditional media usage (the first being the advent of the Internet) on how consumers rely more and more on their mobile phones and other devices as a new access point for content, news and entertainment.

"It is crucial that we make sure we’re asking the right questions about mobile. For content creators, the question really is: What do you want to happen? Figuring out that answer is the key to success," Whiting said. "The most successful mobile content is action-driven—it performs a task and delivers a clear outcome that satisfies a demand. Think about some of the most widely used apps. Each one solves a problem. Google Maps, Facebook’s mobile app, YouTube’s app are all popular because they deliver on a need."

And mobile content isn't just about apps.

Peter Bale, VP and General Manager of CNN International Digital pointed out that mobile browsers are still key tools for content providers to target users, with CNN International's regular desktop-based website growing 222 percent during 2012.

"This is not about the death of the app," Bale said on the panel. "What it tells us is that even with smartphones and tablets, the browser remains incredibly important. This means we need to think of responsive design or other ways of making the standard website desktop work incredibly effectively on tablets."

Wednesday's panel was one of the few to address content and entertainment head-on at the annual event that has attracted more than 70,000 industry heavyweights and visionaries, analysts and journalists.

If in years passed, the search for the killer application or high quality media entertainment on a mobile device with a lucrative finance model for the entire chain of supply ranked as the holy grail of the confab, this year is decidedly focused on other buzz phrases.

Bring Your Own Device, the idea that employees use their own terminal rather than a company-issued one for corporate activity, along with the growing trend of New Access Points for consumers to enjoy content, news and entertainment were among the main highlights for the media industry at Barcelona this year.

Mobile advertising and mobile branding, which last year were looking to "engage" the consumer are now looking for a more user-friendly experience that is less invasive or interrupting, but still taps the vast data resources of individual consumers and their location, tastes and habits.

Paul Gunning, CEO of interactive digital agency Tribal DBB Worldwide, said mobile marketing is on the cusp of a change that brings together out-of-home and radio advertising, the two media that access consumers while out and about.

"When you're dealing with technology, the ability to be much more effective with your advertising, with mobility and cars, it's the sexiest place to be in advertising right now, Gunning said at Wednesday's panel discussion. "All the innovation is happening here."

With that in mind, the automotive industry has pulled the stops for the congress' MirrorLink-sponsored sidebar the Car Connectivity Consortium, with in-dash tablets, voice controlled Spotify in your car, new driving-oriented apps for specific brands like Renault's R-Link are poised as the next great business opportunity for app developers.

While many attendees grumbled about a lack of stand-out gadgets for geeks--particularly sighting Samsung's widely anticipated launch of the Galaxy S4 on March 14--the main trend visible at the world's largest cell phone trade show is device convergence, with super-size phones that look like tablets, featuring cameras and all the bells and whistles.

The other big splash in Barcelona was the new cost-conscious operating system from Mozilla, the Firefox OS based on HTML5, targeted at the penny-pinching consumer not addicted to an iPhone or high-end Android