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Mobile behavior influenced by age, time of day, other factors: study

A new report on consumer online and mobile behavior finds that smartphones are most popular with singles while married folks favor tablets.

The 2012 Online User Behavior and Engagement Study from The Search Agency and Harris Interactive reveals distinct differences in online and mobile behavior between various age groups. Other factors impacting behavior include disposable income as well as the influence of children.

?It?s no doubt that a plethora of smartphones and tablets are increasingly being used by consumers, so mobile marketers and advertisers need to think beyond the device when they?re providing content to the consumer,? said Mike Solomon, vice president of marketing strategy at The Search Agency, Los Angeles.

?The time of day, the device, their location, their age, and whether they?re single or married, all must be taken into account when serving content,? he said. ?Marketers can now also map consumer intent, which is driven by a combination of device type, time of day and day of week; for example, a home buyer's behavior is different on a smartphone during the weekday when they are researching than on the weekends when they are ?in market.?

?The number of resources and devices on which consumers perform research, communicate and shop is rapidly growing and mobile marketers need to understand each of these factors when creating their campaigns.?

Tech-savvy baby boomers
For example, the report found that baby boomers are often more tech-savvy than their slightly younger counterparts because they have children who are pushing them to use new tools and devices.

The report also identifies situational factors such as time of day and proximity to a device impacts how and when users reach for their computer or mobile device to shop, search or be social. This suggests it is important that advertisers consider how to match content and experiences with the time of day and specific device in order to best engage users.

Key findings include that 49 percent of single respondents own a smartphone versus 43 percent for married respondents.

When it comes to tablets, 45 percent of married people own a tablet compared to 36 percent of single consumers.

Second screen experiences
The results also suggest that consumers want more information about the products they are interested in on TV and are looking to their computers and tablets for this information, with age a significant factor in determining which device they choose.

The results show that 78 percent of respondents overall look to their computer to get information about what they see on TV while 66 percent of tablet owners turn to their tablets for this information.

However, among tablets owners between the ages of 18 and 34 years old, as much as 71 percent pick up their tablets for more information. Among tablet owners 35 to 44 years old, the number jumps to 81 percent.

While more married people own tablets, more single people ? 76 percent ? are likely to use them to get more information about products seen on TV compared to married consumers ? 63 percent.

The results also show that consumers are turning to their mobile devices even when their computer is within arm?s reach, with 59 percent of smartphone owners having searched from their smartphone when they are in close proximity to their computer. This number increase to 74 percent for smartphone owners between the ages of 18 and 34 years old.

Other key findings include that the insight that Millennials do not separate work and play as much as their older counterparts, with 53 percent of 18 to 34 year olds more likely to purchase something online during the day than at night. In comparison, only 42 percent of those 55 years and older are more likely to purchase during the workday.

Additionally, 52 percent of respondents 18 to 34 years old are more likely to browse social networks during the workday compared with 41 percent of respondents 35 to 44 years old, 30 percent of 45 to 54 year olds and 30 percent of those 55 and older.

The survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults took place in August.

?This study is helping us learn a bit more on how usage on desktops to mobile is evolving, and it all depends on who you are, if you?re married, how old you are, or where you?re located,? Mr. Solomon said.