Act with Certainty

The ForeSee blog for CX professionals and the Voice of Customer community.

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a concept used in photography, film, painting, and even web design that divides the frame into equal parts to help compose a better picture. How does this apply to the mobile realm?

Because by March 25, 2015, we will see digital traffic divided evenly across smartphones, tablets, and web. Yes, two years from today, this balancing act of which channels customers choose to engage with companies will reach its stasis.

Mobile’s contextual availability is the accelerant here. As mobile adoption and online traffic continue to increase we will begin to see the encroachment of mobile on web’s turf (we are already seeing mobile account for ~10-20% of total traffic, and much more in some industries) as well as a clear separation develop between tablet and smartphones. And we’ll see an emergence of distinct use cases more so for visitors to tablets than visitors to smartphones.

The Rule of Thirds | The ForeSee Blog

The Rule of Thirds

It won’t be a knock-down, drag’em-down power struggle with mobile rising up as the lone victor. No, no…this is a customer-driven tectonic shift that will happen over the next two years with the next two Januarys as the inflection points (people will continue to buy tablets and upgrade smartphones during the next two holiday seasons and change their digital content consumption and shopping behaviors forever).

What we will see is more of an equal distribution of traffic between web, smartphones, and tablets.  So I will say it again: I predict that by March 25, 2015, we will see traffic coming from roughly 1/3 smartphones, 1/3 from tablets, 1/3 from the web. The Rule of Thirds. How you compose the picture accordingly will have a lot to do with how a consumer or prospect sees your company – and your success in being in service to your customer.

Here’s a snapshot of each third:

  • 1/3 Mobile: the prime lens for mobile is time. Discretionary time. More and more people will engage with companies via mobile but only at the certain times of day that best suits them. Let me state the obvious again: the customer is in control and thus when the time is right for them they will engage with your brand in the digital realm. This is what I like to refer to as humanity on its own time.
  • 1/3 Tablet: the main thing with these devices is location. While tablets have the promise of high utility on the go, we will continue to see the predominance of tablet use from the home. They will simply shift their laptop and home computer behaviors to their tablet – because, as many of you know, it is a more awesome and convenient experience. Shopping, banking, researching, communicating, social networking all migrates to the tablet when in the home.
  • 1/3 Web: location is the major player here as well. The majority of this traffic will come from people accessing the web from work, during the day, on their PCs or laptops. Sorry IT departments, you will continue to have people not working whilst at work – they will be doing their daily digital tasks from their work computer during the day.

By then, intent will no longer be a determinant to device selection. You’ll be able to better shop and book travel and pay bills from any of these available device categories. It really comes down to the best available screen for the consumer at the time of use.

What about connected TVs, you say? For another blog post, but my opinion is that Connected TVs will be a device in submission to the closest tablet or smartphone device.

So what does this propagation of traffic mean for you and other companies? Simple. You have three (count them: one, two, three) experiences that will become increasingly more crucial to the success of your business over the next few years (and beyond). Customer expectations will be different for each of them with the need for cross-channel fusion being paramount. And it’s up to you to meet your customers’ expectations regarding each.

What do you think? Do you agree? Am I crazy?

Categories: Mobile Multichannel

About the Author

Eric drives ForeSee’s marketing strategy, working closely with the company’s product, client service, and sales teams to infuse innovation and operational excellence into its offerings. Since joining ForeSee in 2004, he has contributed to the organization’s strategic growth, particularly providing leadership around mobile solutions. He is the author of several of the company’s thought leadership studies, including the 11th annual ForeSee Experience Index (FXI) and the American Employee Study. Eric is a frequent speaker on customer experience analytics, and marketing best practices. He is a board member of the Digital Analytics Association (DAA) and an adjunct professor of mobile marketing at the University of California, Irvine Extension. Previously, he worked as a web analyst, multichannel strategy consultant, usability specialist and focus group moderator. Eric is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Read more posts by Eric Feinberg


  1. Jmichael Warren

    As society continues to progress into the next millennium, there will likely be no shortage of people, by then as compared to a measurable before, who will excel in the digital realm of CT. I happen to be a dinosaur who, way back when, (then), was drawn into the analytical constructs and hierarchy of comparative analysis and standard deviational requirements when attempting to solve problematic communications systems failures in the higher climes of the northernmost influences of the Alps in a post-war Germany. Today, I can but marvel at the intuitive awesomeness that you new breed (read younger but brighter folks), bring to the forefront at the eclipse of your own awakenings yet, not deterred by the unknown or what it may hold in store for you. Sometimes I simply muse at the cusp of my history as it comes to a close and silently, until now, wish there were stars enough for me to share in the marvelous future that is “yours” to yet realize. Good wishes to you all. It would have been a pleasure and honor to have known more of you, I’m certain. God’s speed. J’Michael Warren, [almost late, . . of Texas]. Let me think a sec . ., oh yes, where is that survey I was about to take?

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