RIYADH: More Saudis use the mobile internet every week than watch television, making mobile a true mass media, according to a new mobile path-to-purchase tracker.

The first of a series of quarterly surveys of 500 Saudi Arabian smartphone users by On Device Research, a mobile market research specialist, highlighted the essential role that mobile plays in the Gulf country, where seven in ten people own a smartphone.

The research found that 91% of smartphone owners used the mobile internet on a weekly basis. This was more than any other form of media, including TV (81%), desktop internet (77%) and on-demand TV (76%).

Outdoor media (71%) was also widely viewed, and by rather more than the proportion of respondents who accessed other traditional media such as radio (55%), newspapers (52%) or magazines (48%).

More than two thirds of smartphone users were online for over two hours a day, which, said On Device Research, "offers marketers the reach and frequency of exposure required to build brand awareness".

And at least some of that time is spent in product research, as the smartphone is now the primary tool for this activity – with even more people going to this than taking advice from friends and family (27% vs 26%).

Further, with a quarter of consumers being prompted to conduct mobile research by TV ads, marketers need to consider the benefits of a unified cross-channel marketing strategy, the report added.

Saudi consumers have also embraced m-commerce. Some 77% had purchased a product or service on their smartphone in the previous three months, making a fully optimised m-commerce experience vital.

Data sourced from On Device Research; additional content by Warc staff