GfK carried out a survey for Facebook in the UK and US, polling more than 2,000 people in each, to explore their daily usage of devices like smartphones, tablets and computers. It found that more than 60% of online adults in each country used at least two devices every day, while a significant minority - 25% in the US and 20% in the UK – used three.
In addition, more than 40% of online adults in each market sometimes started an activity on one device and then finished it on another. In general this process involved a move from a smaller to a larger screen, typically a laptop (60% UK, 58% US) although tablets were also well represented (25% UK, 22% US).
While comfort and convenience were the main reasons for switching devices mid-activity, other factors included the urgency of the task, the length of time involved, security and privacy concerns and the level of detail required. Switching could happen anywhere but took place most often at home in front of the TV, when all the devices were more likely to be within easy reach.
Not all devices were used for all purposes, however, as the study found people felt a different connection to each and each played a distinct role.
Thus, the smartphone was seen as the go-to device, always present and used most often for communication and social activity (77% UK, 76% US), while the tablet has established itself as the entertainment hub, used at home and shared with others (50% UK, 43% US).
The laptop, or PC, was regarded as the 'workhorse'. Most people had one at home –86% of online adults in the UK and 80% in the US – and tended to use it for serious tasks like work or managing finances.
It was important, the study said, for marketers to ensure a consistent brand experience that would allow people to pick up their activity as they moved between devices.
Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff