Some of the most interesting data to be added to the recent edition of the Internet Statistics Compendium includes fresh research from IAB on how Europeans use mobile internet at the same time as other media. 

'Media meshing' is evident across the continent, but some countries are more keen to mix the mobile web with traditional information sources than others.

The latest white paper from IAB Europe offers a comprehensive look at the state of mobile internet across the continent. But it is the way Europeans are surfing the mobile web at the same time as watching TV, listening to the radio, using desktops and laptops, and reading the printed word, behaviour which IAB is calling ‘media meshing’, which is of particular interest. 

In short, Europeans are first rate ‘media meshers,’ but from country to country the degree to which mobile internet is used at the same time as other media can vary greatly.

Somewhat surprisingly, here in the UK we are fairly conservative with how we mix mobile internet and other media. While nearly half (49%) of 21m mobile web users are keen to watch TV at the same time, just 30% are listening to the radio, 17% are using computers, 14% are reading newspapers and 13% are reading magazines.

But we are in good company. Denmark, Norway and Sweden all spend a similar amount of time surfing mobile internet while using other information sources.

However, according to IAB, Portugal is similar to us with 45% watching TV, 20% listening to the radio, 10% using computers, 5% reading newspapers and 4% reading magazines at the same time as using the internet on their phones, but with a mobile web userbase of 461,000, more than 40 times smaller than our own.

Intriguingly, European countries with mobile internet populations of a more similar size to the UK often seem to be less keen to use it in conjunction with other media. With over 16m mobile web users in Germany, 14% listen to the radio at the same time, followed by just 6% using computers, 4% watching TV, 3% reading magazines and 1% reading newspapers. Both France and Spain show similar habits for mobile internet populations of around 15m and 12m respectively.

It is often the case that countries with users who are keen to mix mobile internet with other media have comparatively small mobile web populations. In Belgium, with just over 1m mobile owners using the internet on their devices, simultaneous use is quite consistent across all media with 48% listening to the radio, 46% watching TV and reading newspapers, 27% reading magazines and 15% using computers.

In addition, Poland can be seen to be the top European country for using mobile internet at the same time as any one media source, as 69% of around five million users said they listen to the radio, followed closely by watching TV (59%) and reading magazines (47%). 

Of course, there are exceptions which multichannel marketers across the continent should keep an eye on too. Russia, for instance is a good example of a large mobile internet population at over 18 million (just three million less than the UK) and a keen enthusiasm for mixing with other media, especially where watching TV (66%) and listening to the radio (60%) are concerned.

If mobile users are watching ads with their smartphones switched on, how should marketers be adapting to these habits? For example, a mobile optimised landing page may produce a greater response from viewers, while the use of SMS shortcodes and QR codes can offer a more direct response mechanism. 

With this in mind, it will be interesting to see if similar trends occur in the UK and how marketers will seek to appeal to an increasing number of simultaneous mobile internet multi-media users.

Luke Richards

Published 27 April, 2011 by Luke Richards

Luke Richards is a freelance writer and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his blog

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Comments (1)


Jason DaPonte

I'm not surprised to hear about this trend - looking at how people consume entertainment has identified that multi-device consumption is becoming commonplace. Personally, I like to call them 'multi screen' or 'multi touch point' experiences.

I've yet to see many good examples of these in action though. Two apps that ran in sync with TV shows - BBC's Strictly Social and ABC's My Generation App weren't huge hits. Asynchronous content/experiences between devices have been even less exciting.

To create truly great experiences, I think we need to figure out how to signal users to cross platforms and make it easy. Who ever cracks this will be a winner in this space.

about 7 years ago

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