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Mobile?s rapid evolution is far from over: comScore

Consumer behavior is significantly shifting from traditional to digital media, with 2013 marking the first time mobile usage surpassed desktop, according to a new report from comScore.

The report, "U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2014," reveals that the number of United States smartphone users increased 24 percent last year for a total of 156 million owners, a healthy growth rate considering the maturity of the market. Tablets grew 57 percent in the past year to 82 million owners.

?The rapid evolution in mobile usage will only expand," said Adam Lella, a marketing insights analyst at comScore, Chicago, IL.

Social Networks
The increase in mobile habits and the expansion of new platforms as a whole requires marketers and media companies to rethink content experiences and use mobile engagement for measurement and monetization from an advertising and media perspective, per the report.

One area of notable growth is social media, which is thriving in a mobile environment. Marketers have recognized its potential as prime real estate for monetizing the increase in mobile traffic.

Seventy-five percent of the total digital media population in December 2013 used Facebook, and mobile accounted for 53 percent of the social giant's fourth-quarter 2013 ad revenue.

Another big influence in social media, Twitter reported in its Q4 2013 earnings, that 75 percent of its advertising revenue was derived from mobile, proving it could compete with Facebook in a mobile-first business model.

Digital advertising
Social network success in monetizing content (i.e. Facebook?s Sponsored Stories, Twitter?s Promoted Tweets) largely stems from native ads, which appear as content streams in news feeds, and have been recognized as the one potential answer to the challenge of mobile ad monetization.

?Before you spend a dime on any type of advertising, you need to really understand who your audiences are, where they are and how they?re engaging with content,? said Anne Hunter, vice president of advertising effectiveness products at comScore.

Android vs. iOS
Android and iOS platforms have dominated the U.S. smartphone operating system market, accounting for 93 percent of the market.

Android holds the lead with a 51 percent majority share, with Apple closely trailing at 42 percent. Over the past year, Apple closed the gap between the two from 17 to 9 percentage points.

Although Apple has become a successor in many facets of the technology world, it is one of the only smartphone platforms to have never taken the lead in the U.S. market share.

However from an manufacturing point of view, Apple does maintain the lead with a 42 percent majority share. Its closest competitor, Samsung, boasts nearly half that, with 26 percent of the market, which is double from two years ago.

Preference for Apps
The gap continues to grow between mobile and desktop usage as social networks are seeing more traffic and time spent from users on mobile devices.

Of the largest social networking sites, only Linkedin and Tumblr are experiencing more desktop interaction than mobile, with a 54/46 divide for Tumblr, and a staggering 74/26 difference in Linkedin user preference for desktop.

Newer networks such as Instagram and Vine are almost exclusively mobile, while Snapchat is 100 percent mobile.

The visuals and easily consumable content of the newer networks resonate with younger social networkers. Forty-four percent of Snapchat?s users are between 18 and 24 years of age.

Instagram, Snapchat and Vine all require cameras for content creation, making the platforms models of mobile-first social networks. Because they encourage simple content creation, smartphones are the perfect hub for these intensely interactive apps to grow.

Vine is the newest of the bunch, though only existent for about a year, has more than 22 million unique visitors each month.

?Those who can acclimate and innovate will be the most successful,? Mr. Lella said.

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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