Mobile Trends

Screen Size Doesn’t Matter – Convenience Does


Consumers ultimately write the rulebook on why, where, and how they view content. Screen size used to define the digital viewing experience, but a new rule has emerged, and it supersedes all others. That rule is convenience, and it’s a game changer for marketers adapting content for multi-screening.

While consumers previously chose which screen they used based on what type/length of content was being watched, new research blueprints a change amongst consumers. A Nielsen global report recently surveyed consumers in 60 countries, to observe their behavior as it changes throughout the course of mobile adoption. This survey concentrated on how, why, and where respondents watched video programming on mobile, TV, and user-generated content. The data suggested the most clear trend now is that the divide between screens is becoming smaller.

55% of respondents worldwide say video is an important aspect of their lives – an opportunity for marketers.. While the majority of consumers (at 63%) prefer larger screens, they also value mobile for convenient and accessible on-the-go viewing. Shorter contenth still performs best on mobile, but it isn’t because of screen size, it’s because it’s more convenient. Viewers tend to choose certain devices for particular types of viewing, but their boundaries between devices have blurred in favor of convenience. For example tablets are now considered equal to TV, suggesting consumers are willing to exchange extra inches on the screen for the convenience of being able to watch something when and how it suits them. 

But what’s driving this change in viewing patterns? Smartphone screens have increased incrementally over the last few years as consumers prefer larger devices for the more engaging, interactive content that increased broadband speeds allow for.  Also in some countries, many people use smartphones as their primary devices. Although screens have gradually gotten larger since 2014, they have since plateaued. Could we have reached the optimum size for a personal device?   According to Nielsen, more than half (59%) of consumers said video programming is convenient on a mobile device, and over half (53%) say tablets are “just as good” as desktop or TV.

Viewers’ new rule of convenience means they like choosing how much, when, and where they’ll watch content.  This is reflected in findings that 64% of consumers say watching “time-shifted” programming works better for their schedules,and they like binge-watching, or catching up on episodes they may have missed. Video programming ideals revolve around consumers’ access to content when and how it suits them. Screen size is rarely more important than the fact that mobile is simply more convenient.  Increasingly, with TV screens only in certain locations,, viewers are transferring their focus to mobile, and opting for accessibility over the larger screen size. Consumers change their screen preferences throughout the day, opting for the most convenient & compatible device for their immediate needs. Video content nowmust translate seamlessly to multiple contexts, allowing for various locations, times, and devices to take advantage of the latest expectations of viewing flexibility.

Studies have shown that screen size doesn’t actually matter – what matters is how large the screen reflects on a person’s retina.

Advertisers shouldn’t panic over impacts to brand recall however, because research show that mobile video is just as impactful as programming on larger screens. Four recent studies have shown that screen size doesn’t actually matter – what matters is how large the screen reflects on a person’s retina – and this is impacted by the viewer’s distance from the screen. Since handheld mobile devices are a proportionately similar distance as viewers are to their TV screens, consumers are impacted by mobile content the same way they would be if watching TV. Hi-res content is just as powerful for mobile viewers as it is for those viewing on larger screens, and in the future, it could be even more compelling due to the personalisation of mobile devices.

Last year, a cross-screening ad survey by Undertone seems to confirm the findings of these retina studies. Undertone found that over 55% of those surveyed could better recall a full-screen interactive ad on a mobile devices than on a desktop, where ad recall was just under 40%. The smaller screen size actually helps drive the brand message home, while desktop can be cluttered and distracted viewers. According to Undertone, the smaller the screen is, the more critical it is to make an impression. Mobile has become a high-impact tool for marketers, and a go-to for complex brand messages. Interestingly, Undertone also found that brand recall rates were at 35% for both mobile and desktop ads – but ad budgets aren’t keeping up with performance.

As consumers juggle visual impact with convenience, the viewing divide between screen sizes is contracting. In response, marketers should create video content that translates seamlessly across screen sizes, and prioritise both horizontal and vertical mobile viewing. Smartphone screens increasingly offer consumers the optimum convenience, size, and resolution.  It’s a viewing comfort zone for mobile-friendly content that they can control.  By providing content that’s convenient and accessible in any context, on any screen size, advertisers will gain more viewers, and maximise their impact, reach and brand recall.


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