So how do people actually use smartphones?

So how do people actually use smartphones?


Young people use their smartphone every other minute, more than 50 per cent of them use WhatsApp, and 57% use their beloved mobile devices mostly to communicate with other people. (Not quite so anti-social now, eh?)

These are just a handful of insights from the IPA’s most recent TouchPoints report. Released every two years, the report is an invaluable ally for planners, offering insights and guidelines for navigating an increasingly wobbly media landscape.

What made the 2015 report a little different was the use of smartphone tech. In addition to the usual survey data from thousands of participants, the survey also passively monitored the smartphone activity of more than a thousand participants, offering a look at exactly how people use one of the fastest growing ad platforms.

So what did it find?

People across all age groups use their smartphones, mostly, to communicate with others. And most of the time people use apps, rather than a browser, to access the internet.

Adults aged 25 and above use their phone about 264 times a day, including calls and texting. People ages 15-24, however, use their phone 387 times a day. Given that the average sleeping period for this age group is 10 hours (according to the report at least…), this equates to some sort of mobile activity every other minute.

So, there’s that.

But the report doesn’t just show how and why people use their smartphones, it’s when.

TouchPoint data shows that people are least likely to use their phone for communication, including social media, over the weekend. Does this mean people only want to distract themselves online during the work/school week, or does it mean that people are actually communicating face to face in real life, like in the olden days, at the weekend and that communicating digitally becomes unnecessary?

The data doesn’t promise an answer to this or any other question, but it sparks fascinating questions for almost any campaign you care to name. And highlights potentially fruitful areas for further research.

Second screening

A key point made by the report is the link between smartphone use and TV viewing. The amount of respondents using their mobile as a second screen peaked throughout the day, matching up perfectly with age-specific viewing trends. Over 65s, for example, see two peaks throughout the day and then again with everybody else for prime time viewing.

Sue Unerman, chief strategy officer at Media Com says that she expects this kind of insight to help advertisers develop a sophisticated use of second screening. Adding to this expectation she said: “Every moment now is a point of sale and an opportunity to earn shares for a brand’s content or advertising if they deserve it.  It will also gradually but profoundly change people’s expectations of communications from brands.”

Data = revolution (sort of)

Not only is it useful to know exactly what’s going on, but widespread access to this kind of data is revolutionary: “Much of this kind of data has been at the exclusive preserve of some of the major tech and telecoms companies. With the inclusion of passive data collection in TouchPoints it is now available to everyone to provide a more holistic view of the consumer,” explains Lynne Robinson, research director at the IPA.

With this data on hand, campaigns can become better and more relevant to their target audience. Robinson continues: “TouchPoints allows businesses to drill down to specifically target consumers via behaviours, time, day, mood, location, and more, to produce more effective communications plans.”

Image via:
Garry Knight/Flickr



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