Americans are spending more time than ever surfing the Internet away from their desks. Mobile devices and tablets were responsible for nearly 7 percent of all digital traffic in the U.S. in August, according to a new study from ComScore.
The study, "Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices are Changing U.S. Digital Media Consumption Habits," analyzes how untethered Web-ready devices are changing the way Americans access digital content. It also looked at the brand preferences of consumers who use mobile devices.
Among the findings were that two-thirds of the Internet traffic coming from mobile devices came from smartphones, while tablets were responsible for the rest. In a show of just how dominant Apple is in the tablet category, 97 percent of tablet traffic came from iPads.
That growth in mobile traffic stems not just from a large jump in the number of people who use their mobile devices to surf the Web - up 19 percent in the past year to 116 million people (nearly half the population of the United States) - but to the increased availability of WiFi access. About 37 percent of U.S. digital traffic from mobile phones came through a WiFi connection, up three percent in just the past three months.
In a bit of encouraging news for retailers, the study, which was released on Monday, said that about half of all tablet owners had completed some sort of financial transaction via their tablets. Fifty-six percent had used their tablet to look up price or product information at a particular store, and fifty four percent used them to read product ratings and reviews. Those numbers may be driven by demographics as much as technology: Forty-six percent of owners came from households making more than $100,000 annually, 55 percent were male and about 30 percent were between the ages of 25 and 34.
Not surprisingly, three out of five tablet owners used their devices to engage in social networking sites, either updating their own statuses or commenting on the content of others.
"As these devices gain adoption", said Mark Donovan, comScore SVP of mobile, in a release, "we have also seen the rise of the 'digital omnivores' – consumers who access content through several touchpoints during the course of their daily lives."
"In order to meet the needs of these consumers," he continued, "advertisers and publishers must learn to navigate this new landscape so they develop cross-platform strategies to effectively engage their audiences."
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014