Advanced Television

Smartphones, tablets mean ‘digital multi-tasking’

January 21, 2013

Consumers worldwide are embracing myriad new ways to consume digital media content, while appetite for media in its traditional forms seems as robust as ever. With smartphones and tablets becoming ever more popular and technology companies enabling a wealth of new content, consumers worldwide want  more media experiences, on more devices which means consumers are becoming ‘digital multi-taskers’, a global KPMG survey claims.

KPMG’s Digital Debate Report surveyed more than 9,000 consumers across North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America to understand how consumers are allocating their time and budgets to media in all forms.

The phenomenon of the ‘digital multi-tasker’ is most prevalent in China where 60 per cent of consumers say they watch TV at the same time as accessing the Internet. Brits are also fans of multi-tasking according to the survey. 45 per cent of UK consumers say they watch TV while accessing the Internet at the same time, 39 per cent watch TV while reading newspapers and 27 per cent watch TV while also using social networking sites.

David Elms, KPMG UK Head of Media comments:“In emerging, high-growth markets such as China, people are not encumbered with the legacy of PCs and have leap-frogged straight onto portable devices. This creates an amazing set of opportunities for tech and media companies many of which are struggling to devise models that are profitable and which truly sate consumers’ vast needs for information.”

Consumers in the emerging economies and particularly China are leading the way when it comes to adopting new technologies and forms of media. It is in these countries where a new class of ‘mobile-centric consumers’ is emerging: those whose entire online media experience is delivered via mobile devices and mobile networks.

According to the report, China boasts the highest rate of smartphone and tablet ownership, followed by Singapore. (78 per cent of Chinese own a smartphone, 51 per cent tablet; in Singapore 73 per cent of consumers own a smartphone, 41 per cent a tablet). Ownership rates for the North America and Europe are lower; in the UK for example 28 per cent of consumers own a tablet and 57 per cent a smartphone.

While China, Brazil and Singapore lead in their willingness to pay generally for online content, consumers in North America and Europe show a higher willingness to only pay for access to certain content, such as dating sites and books and less on news, music and games, for example. Chinese consumers are willing to pay for travel, photography and games.

David Elms comments: “A number of content owners are trying to repeat the traditional revenue models online, aiming to reverse the trend of getting information for free. Consumers are only prepared to pay for content if it is perceived to have value, at the right price, in the right format and accessible on the right device.

“Consumers in developed markets have become used to receiving content for free, and many have yet to experience or understand the value that tailored, relevant content can bring to their media experiences.  By understanding consumers’ on and offline media consumption, content providers can develop a business model that appeals to even the most skeptical consumer.  They need to delve into understanding their content and their customers much more intimately and then, marry the two “

The majority of Chinese also said they prefer to watch TV on their tablets (60 per cent). In every other country a significant majority still prefers to watch TV on a traditional set. In the UK only 6 per cent of consumers say they prefer watching TV on a tablet.

Other key findings:

  • Consumers split their time between traditional and digital media, but spend more money on traditional media.  With only a few exceptions, consumers in every geography report that they spend more hours each month with an online form of media than they do with the same media in a traditional or offline form. While there is more divergence across media types and regions, in general consumers report that more of their monthly media spend remains devoted to traditional forms — especially for video and live events — than to digital forms.
  •  Far more consumers say their spending for online media increased in the past year than say it decreased. Across every type of digital media, more consumers reported that their spend on that media increased in the past year than said it had decreased. In contrast, consumers were more likely to say they had spent less over the same period of time in certain areas of traditional media — such as packaged forms like CDs, DVDs, and video games.
  • Traditional advertising may be diluted. TV viewing is no longer a single experience as ‘digital multi-taskers’ interact with tablets and smartphones while simultaneously watching TV. The opportunity is for media companies to tap into these ‘second and third’ screens through social media such as Facebook and Twitter and build the overall experience and effectiveness of advertising. At the current time, however, the integration is only partial, and consumers’ attention is being diverted away from the ads.
  • Tablet penetration is already half that of smartphones, but tablets accompany other devices. Barely two and a half years after the launch of the iPad, more than one in four respondents said that they own a tablet while more than half of respondents own a smartphone. But it is laptop and smartphone owners who form the initial wave of tablet buyers — the vast majority of tablet owners also own one or both of these devices.

Categories: Articles, Consumer Behaviour, Mobile, Portable Media, Research