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Tablet Users Set the Bar High for Keeping Connected Across Devices

Tablet users frequently switch between devices

The vast majority of consumers who use tablets also own a host of other web-enabled devices. From laptops to game consoles to smart TVs, tablet owners overindex in tech device usage—particularly smartphones—compared to the average consumer, according to a new eMarketer report, “Tablet Users' Multidevice Habits: Connected Morning, Noon and Night (But On Different Devices).”

Given their penchant for web-enabled devices, this cohort is rarely “off the grid.” While that makes them highly accessible to marketers, tablet users are a slippery bunch that frequently shifts attention from one device to another. The good news for marketers is users’ transitions between devices largely mirrors the home-work-home transitions made in a typical day. Brands implementing a measurable “all-screen” marketing strategy will have the best chance to win this group’s “catch me if you can” game.

The increasing popularity of tablets has many questioning the future of other digital devices, including desktop computers, laptops and even televisions. However, research suggests that tablet users are a device-dependent group that is not abandoning legacy devices as they add new technology to the mix.

Based on an analysis from multiple sources, eMarketer estimates more than 73 million tablet users—57% of the US tablet-using population and 30% of US internet users—will also use a smartphone at least once per month this year. And in 2017, the number of dual tablet/smartphone users will top 126 million and represent nearly 80% of all tablet users—almost half of US internet users.

Understanding the number of duals is important when assessing the impact mobile device usage has on overall digital engagement. For instance, December 2012 data from comScore showed tablet and smartphone usage extended the reach of the top 25 US digital media companies by an average of 29%, and some mobile-centric properties such as Pandora experienced triple-digit audience gains.

The vast majority (90%) of tablet owners polled in May 2012 by research firm GfK MRI said they simultaneously used their tablet while doing other activities, like eating a meal, getting dressed, exercising and perhaps most interestingly, while using other digital devices. Thirty-six percent of those polled said they talked on a mobile phone or smartphone while using their tablet, and 28% used a tablet and traditional computer at the same time. By far, the most common pairing was the tablet with the TV: Some 63% said they used the two devices together.

Eyes on multiple screens means marketers have more opportunities to engage consumers through advertising. Multitasking is second nature for tablet users, and while this behavior is an indication of a distracted consumer, it’s an opportunity as well. Advertising on multiple screens is generating higher conversion rates for brands. According to a 2013 study by Tapad, a cross-platform marketing technology provider, “users who were exposed to an automotive brand’s messaging across two screens exhibited a 57% jump in regional dealer lookups and test drive requests as compared to users who saw the brand’s messaging on only one screen. The small portion of users who saw the brand’s messaging across three screens were also more likely to convert.”


The full report, “Tablet Users' Multidevice Habits: Connected Morning, Noon and Night (But On Different Devices),” also answers these key questions:

  • How many web-enabled devices do US tablet users own?
  • When, where and for what purposes do US consumers use tablets most frequently?
  • What are the marketing implications of tablet users being heavy multidevice users?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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