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Consumers Demand Value As They Declutter Their Digital Lives

The Internet is obsessed with the Netflix series “Tidying Up,” where organizing expert Marie Kondo tries to help folks declutter their homes–and their lives.

The need to tidy up applies online as well, as consumers attempt to streamline their digital presence, according to a new report from Adobe. (Adobe owns CMO.com.) This need for “digital decluttering” is clear from a survey of 1,000 U.S. adult consumers who own at least one digital device (and 20% of whom watch the Netflix show).

Forty-six percent of respondents said they’ve been decluttering their online presence in the past year. That comes in the form of deleting or reducing time spent on social media apps (52%), turning their phones to silent at night (47%), unsubscribing from emails, and shifting to watching or reading more high-quality content (25%).

“Consumers are tidying up both their analog and their digital lives,” said Taylor Schreiner, principal at Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), which conducted the research. “We are all inundated with digital communications via devices, apps, etc. This is causing some people to take a hard look at their digital lives to see what is adding value and what is not, so they can reclaim spare time. Marketers must factor this into their programs.”

Mobile-App Reduction
As part of the report, ADI used Adobe Analytics to analyze 72 billion mobile app interactions in the U.S. between January 2016 and December 2018. It found that while use of mobile apps remains flat, there is a slowdown in new app installs and in-app launches.

“So the onus is on marketers to make sure their branded apps are adding to a user’s life instead of taking away precious time,” Schreiner said. “I think in the coming year we will see a trend toward more value-added services within the mobile app landscape, with smart marketers finding really creative ways to streamline people’s lives by driving more productivity, direct communication, and consolidated capabilities.”

App consolidation trends depend heavily on the industry, ADI found. News apps, for example, are seeing the greatest decrease in use (-14%), followed by social apps (-4%). Retail apps remained relatively unchanged.

ADI also tapped into Comscore data and found consumers gravitating to social networks that allow them to interact and share their viewpoints. That could explain why Tumblr, Twitter, and Snapchat have seen drops in usage over the past year, while platforms including Reddit, WeChat, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn have seen an increase.

Relevance Rules
The good news is that while consumers are trying to pare down where they spend on digital, marketers have raised the advertising bar in a way that seeks to not waste their targets’ time. And it appears to be working: Surveyed consumers said the ads they see today are more relevant to them than the ads they were served just one year ago (+12% YoY).

“We believe that brands have improved their targeting and personalization through an increased use of first-party data,” Schreiner said. “As part of this analysis, we also surveyed 500 marketing and advertising decision makers in the U.S. and found use of third-party data is down.”

Nearly half of the consumers indicated they’re seeing the most relevant ads on TV. Social media is second (35%), which also experienced the greatest YoY increase (+23%). Less than 15% of consumers said website banners are relevant, and just over 10% pointed to streaming video ads. Marketers, however, appear to have a different perspective.

“There’s a disconnect in terms of what ad mechanisms marketers think are relevant versus consumer perception of those same channels,” Schreiner said. “For example, marketers believe their banner advertisements are more relevant today, while consumers don’t feel that way.”

However, with almost half of brands citing they are now able to make changes to display ad creative within the same day, an opportunity exists to elevate banner ad experiences, Schreiner explained. A whopping 71% of marketers agreed that their creative and media strategies are tightly integrated, and ADI expects more relevant creative as a result.

Music To Marketers’ Ears
Consumption of newer digital formats, such as digital audio, is on the rise, too, the Adobe study found. Whether it be their favorite streaming audio or podcast mobile app, consumers are consuming 8% more audio content YoY. Ads via audio content are already making a splash, with 25% of consumers reporting they have bought a product or service after hearing a digital audio ad. Forty-six percent of brands said they plan to increase their investments in digital audio ads over the next year.

“I think the main takeaway from this research is that relevance and value-add is key in winning consumer time and attention,” Schreiner said. “Knowing your customers is step one, but understanding their context is just as important.”

View the full report below, or click here to view it on SlideShare.

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