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Google: 66pc of social media access begins on a smartphone

Consumers are often switching between multiple screens during the day with smartphones leading as a starting point for online activities, according to a new study from Google.

Google?s ?The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consuming Behavior? study takes a deep-dive look at how consumers interact with multiple screens each day, which presents strong implications for how marketers should be integrating television, desktop, smartphone and tablet campaigns. Additionally, the study looked at how consumers treat content differently on each medium.

?The research showed that smartphones are the backbone of consumer's multi-screen behavior as they're the device we interact with most and use most often in combination with another screen,? said Dai Pham, marketing manager of mobile ads at Google, Mountain View, CA.

?Any marketing campaign today should include a mobile component,? she said. ?Ensuring that you can be found on mobile when a consumer looks for you, and providing them a mobile-optimized experience when they get to your site are two key ways businesses can take advantage of mobile multi-screening.?

Multiscreen viewing?
Of the 66 percent of smartphone users who first accessed social media on their devices, 58 percent continued the experience on a laptop and eight percent moved to a tablet for the same purpose.

Sixty-five percent of consumers begin a search on a smartphone with 60 percent of users transitioning the task to a desktop and four percent moving to a tablet.

Other top online activities that begin on a smartphone include searching the Web, shopping, managing finances and watching an online video. 

On the other hand, top activities that begin on a tablet are more commerce-related, such as booking travel or shopping. For example, 11 percent of online shoppers in the study began their experience on a tablet with 10 percent of those users continuing on to a desktop. 

Additionally, 15 percent of tablet users began booking a trip on a tablet ? 14 percent of those users moved to a desktop. The percentages of consumers going from a tablet to a smartphone for a task are small, showing the different use cases between the two devices.

Depending on the activity, PCs can be a jumping point for smartphone use. For instance, 38 percent of users booking a trip began the task on a PC with 31 percent of the users continuing to a smartphone. This likely includes activities such as viewing flight information, finding a hotel or nearby restaurant and checking in for a flight.

Google?s study breaks down multiscreen viewing into two categories - sequential and simultaneous. 

In sequential viewing, consumers move from one screen to another to accomplish one task. Top categories for this type of watching includes browsing the Internet, shopping, social networking and watching a video.

Simultaneous viewing involves interacting with two or more screens at one time for either a complementary experience or unrelated activity. Top activities include email, Web browsing and social networking.

?It?s important to understand both the sequential and simultaneous multi-screening patterns because they have different implications for marketers,? Ms. Pham said.

?With sequential screening it's critical that businesses make the user experience as seamless as possible across devices,? she said. ?For example, if a customer starts shopping on her mobile phone, is the Web site mobile-friendly and could she easily continue her shopping on a computer? Saved shopping carts and sign-in experiences helps keep consumers engaged, regardless of the device used to get to you.?

?For simultaneous device usage, especially when TV is in the mix, it's critical to have cross-media campaigns. For instance, many consumers search for something they see on TV so ensuring that you have desktop and mobile search campaigns helps capture this opportunity.?

Swapping screens
?90 percent of all media interactions are screen-based, whether it is on a tablet, smartphone, desktop or television. Consumers also spend an average of 4.4 hours of free time each day in front of a screen.

Compared to desktops and TVs, the average time consumers spend with a screen for each interaction is smaller. 

Interestingly though, desktops generated an average of 39 minutes spent with tablets raking in 30 minutes, showing that although desktops do commend a longer period of time spent with consumers, the devices are not far behind and are quickly becoming a mini-computer for some. 

Smartphones averaged a 17-minute average per interaction, but also makes up 38 percent of daily media interactions, meaning that consumers are checking their devices multiple times a day in quick spurts. 

Context is key in understanding how consumers interact with their smartphones. Fifty-four percent of respondents said that communication motivated them to use their device. Entertainment drove 33 percent of motivation to use smartphones.

According to the study, 40 percent of smartphone usage takes place in the home with 60 percent taking place elsewhere.

Tablets generated nine percent of daily media interactions. Entertainment made up 63 percent of consumer motivation to use the device followed by communication with 32 percent. Seventy-nine percent of tablet usage takes place at home, and 29 percent takes place outside the home. This shows how tablets and smartphones are drastically being used for separate purposes, which needs to be mirrored in the types of initiatives that brands plan for each device.

Mobile multitaskers?
The study also looked at how smartphones and tablets are being used as multitasking devices. 

For instance, 57 percent of smartphone usage takes place while a consumer is interacting with either TV ? 29 percent ? or a desktop ? 28 percent. 

Seventy-five percent of the time that consumers spend on their tablet overlaps with using a smartphone or television. Thirty-five percent of tablet usage takes place with a smartphone and 44 percent with TV.

Based on some of the study?s results, smartphone users are more prone to use their devices for spontaneous activities, especially around searching and shopping.

For instance, 80 percent of searches were made spontaneously compared to 20 percent of searches that were planned. Additionally, 81 percent of products bought on a smartphone were spur-of-the-moment purchase.

Fifty-two percent of tablet searches were spontaneous with 48 percent planned.

?The device a consumer chooses to turn to first is largely based on their context and need. For instance how much time they have on hand, their location and the goal they are trying to accomplish,? Ms. Pham said.

?So consumers really are using multiple devices throughout a day, and it's important for advertisers to be present across all screens,? she said.

?Since search is often the bridge for how consumers pick up where they left off when moving between devices, advertisers should ensure there is keyword parity in search campaigns across all devices.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York