AOL recently teamed up with BBDO on a mobile research study, to discover not just what people are doing with their smartphones, but to really understand the reasons why people do what they do on smartphones. We found that 68% of consumer mobile phone use actually occurs in the home, something that may come as a surprise to most. In fact, several insights were uncovered that run counter to the traditional view of how smartphones are used, which shows that there is an untapped value for brands who advertise on mobile devices.

The study, conducted by research firm InsightsNow, took a unique three-phase approach that looked at consumer usage of mobile from a qualitative, quantitative and ethnographic perspective. The study involved smartphone users completing a seven-day diary, making video recordings throughout the day as they used their phones, in-depth interviews, and a survey conducted among 1,000 smartphone users from June to August, 2012.

Arbitron Mobile Trends Panels™ service was then used to track a mobile panel for 30 days to track user behavior and clickstreams in the US, across mobile web, apps and other mobile services. This resulted in a database of other 3,000 mobile interactions or moments which were then segmented according to the needs and motivations of the participants. All of these research methods made it possible to uncover which user needs are fulfilled by a wide variety of mobile interactions.

KEY FINDINGS

Mobile isn't always on the go. In fact, well over half of all mobile interactions measured in the research occur in the home, challenging conventional wisdom.

People use mobile devices for seven main reasons:

  • To Accomplish - managing activities and lifestyle to gain a sense of accomplishment
  • To socialize - active interaction with other people
  • To prepare - active planning in order to be prepared for upcoming activities
  • For Me Time - seeking relaxation and entertainment in order to indulge oneself or pass the time
  • To Discover - seeking news and information
  • To Shop - focusing on finding a product or service
  • To Express Oneself -participating in passions and interests
Me Time is by far the biggest "Mobile Motivation" and accounts for almost half (46%) of all smartphone app and website motivation, averaging 864 minutes per month per user, per Arbitron Mobile.

Mobile advertising performs poorly in Me Time because the vast majority of messages are not relevant to the use at that time, are easy to ignore, or get in the way.

Based on these findings, AOL and BBDO have identified the following recommended actions to help marketers, agencies and brands improve their executions on smartphones:

  • Think about mobile as part of something bigger. Move beyond the conventional surface view of mobile behaviors to align your messaging with the underlying motivators that propel mobile interactions.
  • Focus on "Me Time." Think about ways you can redirect mobile communications to help users indulge and enjoy themselves.
  • Recognize there are other mobile motivations. Targeting communications to capitalize on these motivators can increase engagement.

The research will be revealed today, October 3, at the Mobile Marketing Association's "Smarter Mobile Marketing" Conference which is part of Advertising Week 2012 in New York City.