The following is a guest post by Lori Connolly, VP of Research & Analytics at Grizzard Communications Group.

The technology trends that are driving behavior changes are also influencing preferred marketing channels and media mix. Adults that own a smartphone increased 5% year over year, to 85%. The number of millennials that own a smartphone is a whopping 95%. The rate of smartphone adoption has slowed, though the influence of the omnipresent technology continues to change how we communicate interpersonally, as well as with companies and organizations of interest. Understanding the dynamics help marketers – both commercial and nonprofit – adapt to the trends.

Grizzard conducted the sixth annual tracking study DonorGraphicsTM in the first quarter of 2017 among 2,524 U.S. online adults, 58% of which donate to nonprofit organizations. This nationally representative study measures digital behaviors and communication preferences among U.S. adults, and provides a deep dive into giving for the 58% of Americans that give charitably.

Tech: Wearables hot, with smartwatch growth outpacing fitness trackers

While smartphone ownership increased just 5% year over year, smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch, increased 114%, with 9.4% of online adults owning the wearable technology. Fitness tracker growth, such as a Fitbit, was 48% year over year. When including those that own a fitness tracker or smartwatch, the percentage of adults with wearable tech is 29%.

As smartwatches borrow more functionality from smartphones, as well as fitness trackers, they are becoming a force in how we engage. While still best for “quick hits” of communication and information due to the smaller form factor, users are finding less of a need to reach for their smartphone.

Device migration: more opt-in email viewed on smaller screens

Other smart devices, including smartphones and tablets, still have the edge when it comes to many tasks thanks to larger screens and functionality, and they continue to capture time from computer screens. The three-year trend below shows how quickly smart devices have changed behaviors. Time spent with personal, opt-in email on smartphones and tablets increased 77% in three years.

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study 2017. Base: U.S. online adults that receive opt-in email (n=2,247).

Implications for marketers continue to be to improve the user experience in the digital channel. While responsive design for websites and email is key to an optimal viewing and navigation experience across a range of devices, there are still a surprising number of commercial and nonprofit communications that aren’t responsive, or adaptive, across devices. Short of (and in addition to) responsive design, incorporating usability and thoughtful design – in the form of shorter, cleaner emails with fewer links – provides a more functional experience to the recipient.

Ad Blocking

Overall, 30% of those online use ad blockers on at least one device. When breaking out use by device as seen below, usage on computers is highest, at 28%. Ad blocking use on smartphones is at 10%, but is growing the fastest – at 11% year over year – and continuing the threat to mobile display ads.

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study 2017. Base: U.S. online adults who own devices listed (n=2,524).

Millennials lead the way with overall ad blocking use, which follows the use on computers. Use of ad blockers on smartphones and tablets by Generation X and millennials is on par.

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study 2017. Base: U.S. online adults who own devices listed (n=2,524).

To combat the growing threat, publishers are testing paywalls, content blocking, “leaner”, less obtrusive ads, and new technologies to obscure ad blocker pattern recognition. Native ads, or advertising masquerading as content, are becoming more prevalent. Ultimately, marketers making advertising more engaging and sharable versus interruptive will circumvent the issue.

Media Mix: preference and aversion

Five direct response channels were profiled to understand preferred (and despised) channels for receiving marketing communications, from companies and organizations of interest. Commercial and nonprofit marketing preferences were profiled separately, with different questions and audiences. These channels included postal mail, email, social networks, text messages and telephone.

When asked to design their own communication mix with companies of interest, email and postal mail are the top two of the direct response channels profiled. Together, they represent 72% of the preferred media mix for commercial marketing, as seen in the graph below.

For the nonprofit side, the top two channels in the marketing mix are also email and postal mail, which together represent 66% of the preferred media mix for nonprofit marketing.

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study 2017. Base: U.S. online adults (n=2,524).

The flip side to preference is aversion. Channel aversion is the percentage desiring zero marketing communications through the channel.

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study 2017. Base: U.S. online adults (n=2,524).

With preference and aversion graphed together as seen below, the relationship becomes more apparent. As preference recedes, aversion increases. Channels on the right (low preference, high aversion) should be used sparingly in the media mix, and only in combination with age segmentation.

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study 2017. Base: U.S. online adults (n=2,524).

Media Mix: by generation

Age is still the most predictive element in the preferred media mix, despite older generations’ accelerated online migration in the past few years. Looking at the top two preferred channels for commercial marketing in the graph below, the age factor is easy to see. On average, email is preferred nearly 3:1 in the media mix for millennials. Preference for postal mail increases with age. In fact, the intersection of online/offline preference occurs at approximately age 60 for commercial marketing. In other words, in general, those under 60 prefer a higher proportion of email versus postal mail in their media mix with brands of interest.

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study 2017. Base: U.S. online adults (n=2,524).

On the nonprofit side, a similar distribution emerges, as seen in the graph below. When it comes to engaging with nonprofit organizations, however, baby boomer and senior donors prefer a more postal mail-centric media mix. In fact, the intersection of online/offline preference occurs at a younger age than for commercial marketing, at approximately age 50. In other words, in general, charitable donors under 50 prefer a higher proportion of email versus postal mail in their media mix with nonprofit organizations of interest. Note: this mirrors the intersection of the top two preferred methods of donation: online vs. through the mail.

Base: U.S. Donors (online adults who are 12-month active donors, n=1,461).

Short of preference and behavioral data, age presents the best opportunity to target marketing communications by channel. For more information on digital marketing and targeting, see the DMA webinar on “Communication Preferences: How Digital Trends are Shaping Media Mix and Targeting”.

Methodology

Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study is a nationally representative survey fielded annually in February – March using Nielsen’s research panel. The sixth annual 2017 study was conducted among 2,524 U.S. online adults age 18+, with 58% (1,461) identified as donors who made a financial donation to a nonprofit organization (excluding churches/houses of worship) in the prior 12 months. Generational views use Pew Research 2016 definitions, with the “silent” and “greatest” generations combined into a “senior” segment due to small sample size for the latter.

Share Now: Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Facebook