In just half an hour this morning, I have moved from my smartphone to my tablet to my desktop PC, consuming sources including Twitter, Facebook and my WordPress blog feed, not to mention newspaper websites on web browsers and who knows what else. Compared to just two years ago, I am devouring content.
To the doomsayers who declare the death of journalism in the digital age, the explosion in content consumption across mobile devices is a powerful riposte. The problem, however, is how to measure it.
How can content creators, from newspaper editors to advertisers, know exactly how their content is being consumed when we flit so promiscuously across devices?
The people at ComScore and UK Online Measurement may have an answer. This week they launched a “multiplatform product” billed as the first UK online audience measurement system to integrate tablet user figures. It combines PC/Mac, tablet, and mobile browsing and app data and mobile wifi browsing and app data (and one to watch, mobile and tablet app dwell time is due to be released later.)
Their headline findings, which reports a UK tablet audience of 12.8 million people, make interesting reading for newspapers.
The figures show compelling evidence for what they refer to as the dawn of the “post-PC era”, with PC traffic having “peaked” with year-on-year falls in page views, dropping 9 per cent for all 44.6 million UK web users, 25 per cent for the 7.5m 15 to 24 year-olds and 12 per cent for the 9.6 million Londoners, according to the data, reported in an article for the media and marketing magazine Drum. For newspapers that are concentrating their resources on their PC-based website (most likely unresponsive) that should be a wake-up call.
To underline that, the data shows that the newspaper audience on tablets has crept up to a quarter of the size of the current PC audience.
Tablets are also outperforming mobile phones. The figures show that newspapers are seeing a higher proportion of page views on tablets than smartphone devices, accounting for a quarter of all web traffic.
And it’s not just the hip young things who are driving this trend. The silver surfers of the 55+ age group have a higher percentage of tablet ownership than the market as a whole and their use of smartphones has increased by more than 20 per cent year on year, according to the research.
The figures come alongside a separate measurement of tablet usage by eMarketer, which claims a third of Britons, or about 20 million people, uses such a device at least once a month. A couple of their charts show the growth in usage and by by age.
UKOM’s general manager James Smythe told The Drum:
“Consumers’ media behaviour has a habit of changing faster than it can be measured, which holds back the economic development of new platforms.
“One of UKOM’s three jobs is to bring together the industry’s brains and comScore’s data to get new data to the market faster, and it seems the move to de-duplicated Multi-Platform measurement is just in time.
“The other things we do are to make sure the data can be trusted, and industry education to cut through the complexity of counting people online.”
In a recent article, Jamie Walters, the product development director at Metro, London’s daily news freesheet, confirmed the advantages of moving to a responsive approach that allows the multiplatform experience to be seamless for Metro’s readers:
“It’s working. We were delighted to read this month’s ABCe’s showing Metro’s monthly unique browsers up 22 per cent year-on-year, with about 10 million global visitors engaging with the site in April, and a record 406,187 daily average unique users, a year-on-year growth of 21 per cent. Within that, monthly mobile traffic has grown an enormous 103 per cent on last year.
These figures, coupled with the Comscore figures above, tell us something very important – that on mobile and tablet devices, it’s not all about apps. You can have the best iPad app in the world, but if you give a really poor web experience to your tablet users, you are letting them down.
We’ve tried to create a consistency of experience across our native app and browser-based products, bringing porting across features such as swipe from one product to the other. We knew from our Tablet Edition on iOS that 70 per cent of people who reached page 4 read the entire edition. So, we recreated that same convenience on Metro.co.uk, with fantastic results: Metro.co.uk ‘swipers’ consume an average of 10 pages per visit, way above industry averages.
Now we’re looking for advertisers to innovate using our platform. Many ask: is responsive design the answer? Well, for us responsive design not only enables us to offer consumers a better experience, but the creative opportunities are immense.”