Mobile devices have turned us into advertising hungry, nonstop retail monsters

By James Robinson , written on June 24, 2014

From The News Desk

Take a big enough sample size of mobile behavior and you end up coming back to these slightly depressing macro-level truths about how we now live. Case in point, Criteo’s new Mobile Flash Report released today, which draws insights from purchase data across the websites where it serves ads to 924 million people each month (as of March).

We lost 17 minutes a day last year to mobile technology. But it’s not just the time. The technology is changing us. We’re becoming shopping-hungry monsters on mobile, according to Criteo.

It’s a corporate fantasy.

Criteo’s report saw that we’re significantly more likely to click on mobile ads than on desktop. We’re not only online a lot more now thanks to smartphones, but we’re a lot more amenable to brand messages.

We're 55 percent more likely to click on ads on iPhones and iPads than we are on desktop computers. On Android devices, that figure rises to 90 percent. We’re easily tempted to shop on mobile. Retail, classified, and travel ads account for two-thirds of the ads we’re looking at. Mobile device use spikes massively on the weekend. Criteo found that the only adverts we are more likely to click on desktop than mobile are for online dating and gambling.

We’re appear to be getting more comfortable pulling the trigger on mobile and making big purchases too. Per transaction, we spend an average of $364 on hotels, $209 on car rentals, $105 on clothes and $85 on retail goods. Intersetingly, Criteo found that the stereotype of the big spending, affluent iOS user doesn’t hold up when viewed globally. iPhones and iPads resulted in more sales in the United States and in Europe, but on Android was a more lucrative shopping platform across the rest of the world.

Desktop ad spend still dwarfs digital dollars by more than two-to-one, but Criteo’s report puts further credit to the forecasts that this dominance will be eroded entirely within a couple of years. Maybe the smaller screen makes us more easily led, or we use our mobile phones in more idle moments when we were previously just daydreaming the old fashioned offline way.

Either way, our shopping hours have skyrocketed.

Remember when the Internet was supposed to democratize information and make us all better read and more equal? I guess being one click away from a new pair of shoes from anywhere in the world still something.

[illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]