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For nearly seventy years the classic media mix of television, radio, print, direct mail and outdoor reigned supreme as the primary options for advertisers to communicate with and engage potential customers. While the Internet has been with us for at least two decades now, many advertisers -particularly local and small businesses - the Internet and digital media has been an afterthought or, even more likely, a sort of ‘black box’ where the value and the place of digital media is ambiguous or unclear.

At certain point a trend becomes the 'new normal'. It seems apparent now that the media usage habits, not just of the young or the tech-savvy have changed. The below chart from eMarketer ( demonstrates the rapid change in the shifts of how adults use media.

eMarketer's forecast for 2017 demonstrates that almost 49% f that time is now spent with some form of digital media.

The chart clearly reveals that the growth in digital is being driven by mobile usage. In just 2010, Mobile use was a mere 3.7% of adult media time . By 2012, this has almost tripled to 12.6% and by 2017 is now well over a quarter of all media time.

Mobile's rise is clearly due to its convenience as it has displaced other media for tasks and information that were once a monopoly of other forms of media. For example, finding recipes in magazines, watching video on televisions, listing to music on the radio, and checking email on a computer have all had their functions co-opted or improved on by the convenience and ease of access enabled by mobile devices (both smartphones and tablets).

Mobile is (in the span of just a few years) the second most dominant medium in terms of where we spend our time. This is why mobile should be the priority of all digital marketing plans. Only television remains dominant, although it has lost some of its share to viewing on tablets and mobile devices as well.

Business owners, marketers and advertisers need to be aware of this shift and if we don’t understand it, it's important to surround yourself with people who do. These trends are not just essential for marketing, but for basic survival in the years ahead. Help is not always too far away either. I’ve met dozens of local advertisers where the owner identified an existing employee or manager who volunteered to run their social media or manage their website. This employee (not too surprisingly, often much younger than the owner!) was able to take on some or all of the vast array of tasks associated with building and managing their company’s digital presence.

That’s a great start.

It's likely these sort of investments will help you to uncover new possibilities for how you engage with your customers, and attract new customers. Of course, if you don't have an employee who is motivated or confident, you can always call on a professional services firm who has the experience and knowledge to help you prioritize the right digital priorities.

One thing is certain, times are changing, and we all need to understand how to adapt and survive (and grow!) or be prepared to be left out of the biggest shift in media consumption in seventy years!


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