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Phablet users begin to emerge as distinct mobile audience: report

While phablets are still an emerging market, new data from Opera Mediaworks pinpoints some unique characteristics of these users, including that they are much heavier social media users than smartphone or tablet users.

The findings suggest that phablet users could end up being a distinct group, with these users far less likely to use news and information sites compared to smartphone users. Phablet users also display significantly less interest than tablet users in gaming, music, video and media content.

?Some might hypothesize that phablets are used more like tablets than like smartphones. Or vice versa,? said Scott Swanson, president of Opera Mediaworks, San Mateo, CA. ? But we found that phablet users are emerging as their own category.

?They are less likely than phone users to visit news site and less likely than tablet users to play games or view media,? he said. ?So we'll need to keep watching how phablet use evolves over time.?

Highly engaged users
Phablets are a quickly growing subset of mobile devices that combine the functionality and portability of smartphones but boast larger screen size.

Just 20 million of the 980 million smartphones shipped globally in 2013 were phablets, according to Juniper Research. However, that number is expected to increase 600 percent to reach 120 million by 2018.

For the report, Opera Mediaworks reviewed traffic and use habits across its platform for 13 smartphones with screen sizes between 5 and 7 inches, including the Samsung Galaxy Note, Sony Xperia Z, HTC One Max and Nokia Lumia.

Key findings include that social networking accounts for 53.8 percent of total impressions served to phablet users.

Additionally, phablet click-through rates are significantly higher than tablet rates throughout the day.

Night owls
Phablet traffic in the U.S. is highest between 9 am and 12 noon. However, engagement on ads as measured by click-through rates lifts significantly between 8 pm and 10 pm.

In comparison, tablet traffic is highest in the evening but click-through rates are fairly low.

Phablet traffic dips significantly between 5 pm and 7 pm as users are commuting home, having dinner and spending time with their families.

Samsung devices drove the majority of global phablet traffic, with the majority of the traffic originating from Asian countries.

?Our research shows that audiences are most receptive to advertising on phablets at times when they are not distracted by other tasks,? Mr. Swanson said. ?So our recommendation is that marketers develop creative that's congruent with the state of mind of the consumer.

?Specifically, more simple banner advertising is appropriate for when users are in lean-forward mode,? he said. ?And if brands are looking for a deeper level of engagement, or a longer form ad like a video, that they use context and time of day to place those two types of creative in front of the user at the right place at the right time.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York