Nielsen: More Internet Spent on Mobile than PC

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Nielsen-ChartA recent study from Nielsen has given mobile marketing early adopters a reason to pat themselves on the back and provided an impetus for those who have yet to get started. The report stated that more time on the internet is spent on mobile devices (i.e. tablets and smartphones) than on PCs (desktops and laptops). The Nielsen study also has a lot of information about the digital media consumption habits of the average American consumer that’s useful to business owners. This post will go over some of the major findings of the study and what it means for internet marketers.

The 2014 Digital Consumer Report from Nielsen feature a lot of information of great usefulness to internet marketers.  The report noted that on average, US adults spent 34 hours per month using the mobile internet on smartphones, but they only spent 27 hours on the PC internet.

Surprisingly, the study noted that of the smartphone internet time, apps captured 86 percent of usage. Before naysayers begin touting the end of mobile marketing, it’s important to note that much of this time is dominated by Facebook, which accounts for nearly 25 percent of the time spent per month on mobile internet. Video apps like YouTube and Netflix are also heavily used, accounting for another six hours per month. This, coupled with the mobile games, explains why apps are used so often. The fact remains that when people want to read content or search for business information, they are using their browser and looking for mobile-optimized websites..

Besides being another piece in the steady line of research highlighting the growth of mobile, the Nielsen study is even more positive than some previous studies. For example, in a 2013 study from Pew, it was estimated that one in five consumers used their mobile device as their main source of the internet. The Nielsen study suggests that people may have unwittingly under reported their smartphone usage in the Pew report. Ironically, this too shows the pervasiveness of the mobile internet. Consumers use it so much and often that they fail to notice it.

Also speaking to the pervasiveness of the mobile devices, the Nielsen study noted that “84 percent of smartphone and tablet owners say they use their devices as second-screens while watching TV at the same time.” This means that people who are watching TV are using their devices to read articles, shop, play games and more while they are relaxing at home. A business can use this to their advantage by ensuring that their content is mobile optimized, their ads are running on mobile networks, and that there site and its contents are mobile SEO friendly.

The Nielsen study also gives a boost to social media marketers, since both PC and smartphone users like to access their social networks. Social media sites are used daily by 64 percent of US adults (on the PC) and 47 percent of smartphone owners use social media daily. Interestingly, even if a higher percentage of PC users visit their social media everyday, in many cases, more time is spent via smartphones. To illustrate, on a given month, PC users spend an average of six hours and a half hours on Facebook , whereas smartphone users spend more than seven and a half hours on the Facebook app (plus 30 minutes accessing it from the browser).

“Mobile devices are certainly driving the growth in social media, as social media app usage increased 37 percent in 2013 compared to last year,” the researchers stated in a press release.

As this study shows, consumers are viewing a lot of content from the internet and they are using all kinds of devices to do it. Marketers who want to ensure their content reaches the target audience have to pay attention to these changes in media consumption. To make sure your customers can find your content on their mobile device, check out our articles on designing tablet-compatible sites and mobile marketing.


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