LONDON: Smartphones are the most popular device for going online at every hour of the day, according to new research, a trend that savvy brands are exploiting in a variety of innovative ways.

An analysis by Verto Analytics, a research company that tracks which devices nearly 5,000 UK adults use to go online, showed that smartphones account for 57% of people who go online, whilst traditional PCs account for 27% and tablets 16%.

“Daily behaviour is either rapidly shifting away from PCs or going straight to mobile, highlighted by services designed almost entirely for mobiles such as Uber and Snapchat,” observed Dr. Hannu Verkasalo, Verto Analytics’ CEO.

Smartphones were found to be at their most dominant between 8am and 11am when they account for 63% of people online – three times as many as are on a PC. PCs’ highest share during normal waking hours was 29% between 6pm and 11pm. Tablet’s share of the online audience was greatest between 10pm and midnight when it accounts for 19% of people online.

More generally, the data showed the most popular time of day people go online is between 5pm and 10pm, whilst actual usage (i.e. how long people spend online) is heaviest between 7pm and 8pm.

The data also revealed that search, news, finance and travel companies had seen the biggest increases during the year in the number of people visiting them via smartphones.

“Businesses of any kind looking to appeal to consumers need to think of mobiles as mini-computers instead of mere phones because people increasingly conduct more of their lives through them,” said Verkasalo.

Mobile operator O2 is better placed than most to make use of the various marketing possibilities being opened up by this change in behaviour, most recently with a campaign for the new Samsung S8 smartphone that combined digital audio and outdoor to drive consumers in-store.

The brand partnered with DAX, the digital audio exchange, to target consumers on the move using DAX’s geo-fencing technology to serve ads to those mobile users streaming audio within close proximity of O2 stores across the country.

People who heard the O2 ad were 67% more likely to visit a store compared to people in the area who weren’t exposed to the ad.

Data sourced from Verto Analytics, Global; additional content by WARC staff