QUICK READ: With nearly all public gatherings called off, Americans are seeking out entertainment on streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, and looking to connect with one another on social media outlets like Facebook and they’re doing it on PC’s not smartphones or tablets.
According to The NY Times “in the past few years, users of these services were increasingly moving to their smartphones, creating an industrywide focus on mobile. Now that we are spending our days at home, with computers close at hand, Americans appear to be remembering how unpleasant it can be to squint at those little phone screens”.
What’s happening here?
First, this data clearly shows that people like bigger screens and realize that using their smartphones or tablets has its limitations. PC sales have actually been increasing as people replace outdated Windows machines and opt for big-screen iMac’s that are even sold at Costco now. It’s rumored that Apple is finally remodeling their iMac’s after a long long time without any cosmetic changes.
In addition the offices and schools of America have all moved into our basements and living rooms. Nothing is having a more profound impact on online activity than this change. School assignments are being handed out on Google Classroom. Meetings are happening on Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams. The rush to these services, however, has brought new scrutiny on privacy practices.
Will it last? It’s possible but the message is clear: consumers want bigger screens. Too many brands have optimized their sites for smartphones and tablets while ignoring how consumers use their sites on desktops or laptops. I have analyzed a lot of CPG websites and PC’s still account for the vast majority of traffic despite the hype.
The other trend that marketers need to be aware of is where consumers are going online.
Americans have been seeking out more established media brands for information on the public health crisis and its economic consequences. CNBC, the business news site, has seen readership skyrocket. The websites for The New York Times and The Washington Post have both grown traffic more than 50 percent over the last month, according to SimilarWeb. Programmatic ad buying may not take this into account and ad dollars could be wasted.
Finally, Americans are rediscovering home cooking and hobbies. Many grocery stores are selling out of products like flour and yeast. What I believe will happen is that many working Americans are going to realize that they have been spending too much time commuting and at the office. I look for more people and companies to telecommute.
There has been way too much hype around the use of smartphones. PC’s DO offer a lot better online experience and look for tech to leverage this with new, bigger models of mobile devices.