Facebook Tablets Smartphone

60% of adults use at least 2 devices every day, while 40% have changed device through an activity, Facebook and GfK find


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

March 6, 2014 | 4 min read

Over a fifth of the UK public uses three devices a day – smartphone, computer and tablet – research from Facebook and GfK has discovered, with 73 per cent of these switching between device mid-activity, such as browsing on a phone and completing the purchase on a laptop.

The goal of the research, which was released today with both UK and US findings, was to discover people’s behavior as they move across multiple devices during the day.

The figures between UK and US were similar: so similar that Oliver Robinson, GfK research lead, told The Drum he actually had to double check them. In the UK, over 60 per cent use at least two devices a day, and over 20 per cent use three: in the US these stats stood at 60 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively.

Mark Bulling, measurement lead for Facebook, EMEA, explained: “A lot of us have more than one device now that we use to access the internet. But is that something that lots of people are doing, or is it just a few tech adopters? The research looks to find if these behaviours are main stream, or if they are still in their infancy.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was found that for a majority of people, different devices were used for different things: smartphones tended to be the ‘go to’ device for communications and social activity, with 77 per cent of using the device when on the go.

Those with a laptop and a smartphone said that they are 10 times more likely to use their mobile on public transport, while tablet owners are three times more likely to use their smartphone.

It was found that tablets were more likely to be seen as ‘shared’ devices for across the family, and used to access content and media.

Over three quarters (86 per cent) of the 2,000 surveyed said that they used a computer or laptop at home, with this mainly being seen as a tool dedicated to finances.

This ties in with figures the research discovered on people changing devices for tasks, with 40 per cent of adults using one device to start an activity, before finishing in on a different device. The figure for this was the same in both the UK and the US.

However, this statistic is not based on the rise of second-screening. The example Robinson and Bulling gave to The Drum was booking a holiday: people may browse holiday locations on their smartphone, but then take to their laptop to actually complete the purchase.

“As you might expect, there was different reasons and contexts for switching devices, but there were some macro patterns in the data. Generally speaking, they are from smaller screen devices up to larger screen devices, for the benefits you get from a bigger screen, partially in terms of inputting data, but also for the actually experience of using the bigger screen and what’s displayed to you,” Robinson said.

“We see that happening a lot as part of the high penetration of multiple devices and years of mainstream consumer activity.”

Among those who switched devices in the study, 25 per cent switched to a tablet and 60 per cent to a laptop.

Overall, it was discovered that while the devices seem to be given different purposes by consumers, there are some platforms that are used across all devices: “Facebook is one of the activities where there is a really prominent trend across those devices, along with email, it’s one of the things most likely to occur wherever you are,” Bulling added.

This coincides with figures from research which found that in the UK, there were 21 million active mobile users on Facebook, and, Bulling suggests, makes it much more simple for advertisers and marketers to negotiate the digital world.

Bulling and Robinson came up with three key recommendations from their research: the first referring back to the fact that consumers change device by suggesting that brand experiences should be consistent.

It is also important, the research states, that with people moving devices, advertisers should be able to reach their brands across all platforms.

The final suggestion made is the importance of measurement: you may have 100,000 impressions of an ad on desktop and 30,000 on mobile, but are these the same people seeing the ad on both devices, or is it being targeted towards different people?

The social media network also reported that its shift to mobile in the UK in the past six months outpaced overall UK internet growth for the whole of last year.

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