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It's Complicated: Cross-Platform Behaviors Emerge

09/10/2013

As user behaviors both accelerate and evolve faster than an LTE wireless broadband connection (which is mighty fast), marketers will be challenged to track and target users across screens. The early studies of how people are accessing content throughout the day from screen to screen demonstrate just how voracious and varied our behaviors are becoming. As a new Jumptap and comScore study shows, consumption varies not only from screen to screen but rom demo to demo, day part to day part.
As comScore has reported recently, the explosion in device use has almost doubled overall time spent with digital media since 2010 (+97%). Much of that increase is attributable to smartphones and tablets. Two-thirds of online adults (122 million) are working across both PCs and devices. Only 58 million users are still using the desktop PC only to access digital media, and about 14 million are mobile-only users. Women (69%) are actually most likely to be hopping across screens and using mobile exclusively (14%).
In a series of 10 media diary accounts used to gain insight into these metrics, Jumptap found that many people are parsing specific kinds of uses to individual devices. One diarist says she only uses her laptop for at-home work, accessing Google hangouts or Skype, but tends to use her tablet for video streaming and most other browsing chores. Her diary shows her PC focusing on providers like Yahoo and social media during the day. Meanwhile, her smartphone is jumping across many services at all hours: CNN in early morning, Instagram on the way to work, Snapchat at mid-morning, Yelp in late afternoon, Facebook in the evening, etc.
More generally, drawing from comScore metrics, smartphone use is up dramatically among all demos, but the 18-24 segment has soared 40% in time spent on their phones in just six months (Oct. 2012-April 2013), with women 25-49 up 32% and the 50+ segment up 33%. Men 25-49 have only increased their smartphone use 10% in that time.
Content is a key factor in determining whether people are accessing across screens. For instance, games are moving substantially to devices, with 48% of time spent on smartphones and 15% on tablets. Similarly, social media passed the tipping point long ago, with a total of 67% of time spent with this channel now on smartphone (58%) or tablet (9%). Some especially important content types for advertising, however, are still either predominantly PC-based, or event divided across screens. Auto, Business/Finance and TV content are all still overwhelmingly being accessed most often on the desktop. But in the areas of Food, we see 28% of time spent on phones, and 16% on tablets; with Health, 40% on handsets and 6% on tablets; for Entertainment content, 39% of time is spent on smartphones and 11% on tablets.
The variables across screens can be formidable. In the weather category, for instance, its reach of 67% beats other platforms by a wide margin, but tablet engagement of 47 minutes per visitor per month is much larger than PC or phone. Just as variable in this category is day part use by platform. Tablet use is focused mainly on very early morning and early prime time, while smartphone use is steady throughout the day and evening. The PC for this category is clearly a workplace platform, with elevated but steady use only from early morning to late afternoon.
So what we are seeing is a fragmentation of digital content consumption across multiple axes at once: device, content type, day part and demographic. This illustrates just how complex the media planning landscape has become in very short order. Previous presumptions about how any one of these elements behaves are being disrupted in many ways at once.

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