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It’s a multi-screen world

Senior Director, Social Media

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Google has released a report on the multi-screen world that has arisen with our adoption of smartphones and tablets. These devices have managed to further blur the lines between television and the internet with many tasks now being handled across multiple screens before they are completed.

This report is based on qualitative diaries and quantified surveys to capture both the opinions and actions of the participants. The picture that emerges is one of intense multi-screen use that drives tasks across devices and shows the connections users create to help themselves maintain progress as they move from device to device.

It’s a Paperless World

In this study 90% of media interactions are on screens–only 10% happened in radio and print media. These screens captured 4.4 hours of our leisure time. That’s a lions share of the non-work day. The report shows how four variables define which screen we choose: time, goal, location, and attitude.

PCs are used mainly for “serious” tasks and demand more of our attention when they are used. Interestingly, they are used out of home (31%, presumably laptops) more often than tablets (21%), showing that tablets really are house-bound devices.

Smartphones are used in short bursts (see my post on my 10-second rule) and center on communication and entertainment rather than more concentrated activities. Interestingly, while they are the most-used device out of home (40%) they are still used in the home 60% of the time. Convenience trumps screen size when it comes to short tasks.

Tablets are used when we want to explore and entertain ourselves. They are still one of the lowest usage platforms, but that will change as the devices make their way into more and more households.

TVs weren’t described in the same way as the other devices. Google may have decided that everyone knows how TVs are used or, more likely, they’re really only interested in channels that support their search technology.

Multi-Screen Techniques

There are two ways that people use their multiple screens: Sequential and Simultaneous. The differences in how these pathways are used provides some important insight for digital marketers.

Sequential usage typically goes from the smartphone to another device and users are often working on a task such as researching a topic or item. These types of tasks often start on the smartphone and then users have a few tools for picking up the task again on the next device:

90% of users have performed a sequential task across multiple screens.

Simultaneous usage is also very common with the TV, smartphone, and PC being the top devices:

TV is the most common platform to play host to another screen, with 77% of the time multi-screen users are watching TV also paying some attention to another device, most often a smartphone or PC (laptop).

Google further divides the simultaneous usage into multi-tasking (where the second task is distinct from the first) and complementary (where the two tasks are related).

This report and infographic are very worthwhile and contain a lot more detail than we can describe here.

Healthcare Marketing

So, what does this mean for healthcare marketing? If a patient is researching a therapy or a condition, this research could easily take place between screens and a single “journey” may thread together multiple sessions across multiple devices. As marketers it is our job to ensure that users can string these experiences together and form a complete picture of what they are researching. That means:


More About the Author

Brad Einarsen

Brad is Klick's Senior Director leading the social practice. His group ensures that clients get the best bang for their buck on the social platforms.

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