Size doesn’t matter, context does, claims UK report on digital media consumption

26 Mar 2013

A new report from digital video advertising provider YuMe and digital media research firm Decipher challenges our current notions of ‘lean back’ and ‘lean forward’ content consumption and claims that consumers are ‘screen agnostic’.

The March 2013 report on mobile and device advertising analyses information from surveys and further research on UK consumers.

No matter what the device, it seems, these users are primarily consuming written content. For laptop users, this accounts for 51pc of content consumed, 47pc for tablet users and 49pc for smartphone users – the majority in all cases.

A key discovery from this report is that the popularity of content types is not tied to specific devices. News and social content are the most popular across all devices with more than 70pc penetration, followed closely by entertainment.

YuMe and Decipher report on digital media consumption

Base: laptop owners (n=735); smartphone owners (n=985). Source: YuMe Mobile & Device Advertising – Final Report v2

Video demands Wi-Fi

While written content consistently comes out on top in terms of consumption, the report’s authors indicate this could be due to the data demands of video.

Video content was No 2 on all counts, seeing a share of 39pc of users’ consumption on laptops, 41pc on tablets, and 28pc on smartphones. However, when it comes to viewing video content on any of these devices, users are far more likely to do so at home, perhaps because of access to a Wi-Fi connection.

YuMe Mobile & Device Advertising - Final Report v2

Base: participants who use laptop (n=961), tablet (n=573), or smartphone (n=882) to watch videos. Source: YuMe Mobile & Device Advertising – Final Report v2

Time spent watching video content in a single session on either laptops or tablets tends to last from 11 to 30 minutes. In contrast, the time spent engaging in any of these activities on the small-screen smartphone is much shorter, with users consuming in bite-sized amounts for sessions of less than 10 minutes for all media types.

Tablets as ‘surrogate laptops’

As can be seen from these figures, video is more likely to be consumed on tablets than any other device. Despite being largely touted as a mobile device, the clear majority of tablet usage occurs at home (42pc), putting them almost on a par with laptops, which see 47pc of their usage occurring in the home. Smartphones, on the other hand, are truly mobile, with a usage split of 31pc at home, 24pc when out and about, 24pc when travelling or commuting, and 21pc when at work.

What this report shows it that tablets are being used more like laptops than smartphones; that is, a primarily home-based device used for highly engaged browsing and purchasing. By comparison, smartphones are primarily being used out of the home for quick, task-based activities and possibly for low-consideration purchases but generally not for major purchasing activity.

But, while smartphones are the primary ‘on-the-go’ device, usage attitudes shift when at home and activity becomes more like that on a laptop or tablet, thanks to added privacy and a Wi-Fi connection.

Where you lean depends on where you are

These findings break down the ‘lean forward vs lean back’ argument as user responses indicate that engagement depends more on the user’s environment than their device.

Regardless of the device being used, ‘lean back’ engagement is occurring at home, when users are relaxed, free to explore and privacy is less of a concern; while ‘lean forward’ is occurring when users are out and about, concentrating on quick tasks that can be completed safely in the public eye.

Tablet user image via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.