How to Market Based on Phone Choice

The Personalities Behind the Top Devices and How to Reach Them

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NEW YORK ( -- Advertisers might not care if their target audience surfs the web on a Dell or a Macbook, or with Internet Explorer rather than FireFox. But when it comes to mobile marketing, marketers are wise to know what phone is being used by the person you are trying to reach and target accordingly.

"The device and operator give additional data points when you target on phones," said Mike Fyall, product marketing manager of mobile ad network AdMob. "Layering device targeting on top of other types of targeting gets a more granular audience." So who exactly are smartphone users and what does their choice of device say about them? Meet the personalities behind the five major platforms below.


While the iPod Touch is obviously not a phone, it is a device advertisers can reach through. The Touch user is young -- according to AdMob, 65% of iPod Touch users are under 17 -- and likes to game and listen to music. AdMob's Mr. Fyall calls it an "app-downloading machine and music player." Touch users download an average of 12 apps per month, a third more than iPhone and Android users. They also spend 100 minutes per day using apps, which is 25% more time than iPhone and Android users.

TYPICAL USER: Salt-and-pepper businessman

The BlackBerry user is still very much a business user who uses the phone primarily for e-mail, instant messages and viewing attachments. BlackBerry users do not surf the mobile web as much as other smartphone users and, when they do, they spend less time online. They are more likely to e-mail and instant message than the average smartphone user, but less likely to download music or games, utilize location-based services, mobile commerce or watch video, according to Nielsen Mobile data.

"The BlackBerry says: 'I'm going to get the job done,'" said Marcus Startzel, senior VPsales at ad network Millennial Media. Sixty percent of BlackBerry users are married and the highest segment of users report income over $100,000, according to Nielsen. However, BlackBerry, which claims the highest market share of smartphones as of December, is beginning to go more mainstream.

TYPICAL USER: Loyal Gizmodo reader

According to Nielsen, 33% of Android users are single and, by Ad Mob's count, 73% are male. Millennial's Mr. Startzel calls it the "tough, terminator-like robot phone," but as the phone comes out on more carriers like Droid on Verizon and the handful of upcoming devices on AT&T, Android will be on the phones of myriad consumers. "Android is by far the fastest-growing platform," said AdMob's Mr. Fyall. "Six months to a year from now, you're going to see different profiles on phones customized for different needs."

TYPICAL USER: Overpaid Creative Director

The iPhone user is tech-obsessed, wealthy and is less likely to have kids than other smartphone users. IPhone users are more likely to buy Kindles, iPod Touches or the coming iPad than those that use Android or BlackBerry operating systems, according to AdMob data from January. A full 62% of iPhone users don't have kids, vs. 54% of BlackBerry and Android users. Maybe that dearth of college bills is why the iPhone can claim the highest percentage of users with more $100,000 in income, according to Nielsen.

IPhoners are also using the device for much more than e-mail or messaging and are very active web surfers. They're also more likely to buy things from their phones, download apps and content, according to Nielsen.

TYPICAL USER: Ex-Palm Pilot owner

Palm has a higher index for 35- to 44-year-olds than any equipment manufacturer, with more than 25% of users falling in that range, according to ComScore. There are a lot fewer Palm users and that number is falling -- its smartphone market share fell from 8.3% to 6.1% from September to December 2009. Data shows that there's an older crowd on the system and some are betting they are the people who were familiar with Palm a decade ago, when the Palm Pilot was popular.

So, what creative works best for each device?

IPHONE: Entertainment- or utility-oriented apps that take advantage of features like the touch-screen display or accelerometer, such as AKQA's Volkswagen GTI Real Racing game app, which relied just as much on iPhone's young, affluent audience as its gamer-friendly features. "There's no way we would have recommended an iPhone-only launch for the product if there weren't such a huge overlap in audience between GTI and iPhone users," said Daniel Rosen, head of AKQA Mobile.

IPOD TOUCH: What works on iPhones often work on iPod Touches, but marketing to this device's kiddie audience means more entertainment-focused apps.

BLACKBERRY: "Apps on BlackBerrys have not been as successful," said Maria Mandel, senior partner-executive director for Ogilvy Digital Lab. Utility-oriented apps (think: travel apps for an on-the-go exec) appeal to this audience.

ANDROID: Tech-forward apps are going to work well for the geeky male Android user. "Right now, we find apps that break through on Android push the envelope on what could be done in mobile," said Ms. Mandel.

PALM: Palm phones could be a good place to squeeze more bang out of bucks already spent on mobile websites designed for BlackBerry. A mobile website created for the BlackBerry businessman would also be accessible on Palm phones, so targeting ads to drive traffic to that site could grab those few Palm people out there.

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