Google: 90% of consumers shifting between screens

Nine out of ten people are searching online and consuming media across different devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, according to a major new study from Google.

The study, which polled consumers in the US cities of Austin, Boston and Los Angeles, identifies two main forms of multi-screen activity: sequential screening, where consumers move from one device to another to complete a single goal; and simultaneous screening, where consumers use multiple devices at the same time.

Google found that an overwhelming proportion of respondents (90%) use multiple screens sequentially, and that smartphones are by far the most common starting point for sequential activity.

With simultaneous usage, the search giant found that TV no longer commands undivided attention, with 77% of viewers watching TV with another device in hand. In many cases people search on their devices, inspired by what they see on TV.

Google observes that the critical factor for sequential screeners is a seamless experience, and that search is often used as a way of picking up where a user left off, meaning that keyword parity across screens becomes important.

With personal devices usually being no further than a pocket or handbag, they are often used to complete spur-of-the-moment activity, says Google: in fact, 80% of searches conducted on smartphones are defined as spur-of-the-moment, and 44% of these spontaneous searches are goal-oriented.

Of course, all this insight is seen by the search giant through the lens of marketing opportunities: this combination of device accessibility and spur-of-the-moment usage means there are now more opportunities to connect with consumers, so businesses are advised to ensure that they’re present and optimised across multiple screens.

The report can be downloaded here.

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