Places not Platforms?

3 January 2014 – New research from Mindshare, the global media agency network, explodes the myth that all consumers are smartphone-wielding, tablet-tapping technophiles accessing digital services on the move.

The research found that: consumers still prefer using laptops or desktop computers to smartphones and tablets; if someone does an activity online, they are just as likely to do that activity on any device and the location someone is in will have more impact on what they are doing online than the technology that is available to them at the time.

The sixth year of the Mindreader survey, a study of 42,000 consumers from 42 countries, releases findings ahead of The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas showing more than 90% of respondents use a laptop or desktop on a regular basis, compared to 56% who use a smart phone and just 33% who own a tablet.

Norm Johnston, Chief Digital Officer, Mindshare Worldwide, believes that reports of the demise of the traditional computer are way off the mark. He said: "Although the penetration of both smartphones and tablets is increasing, the majority of people are still using traditional technology to access the internet. It would be foolhardy to write off PCs as an essential technology for consumers this year."

US respondents indicated that they are still more likely to undertake a variety of online activities at home - where the primary device for accessing the internet is still the laptop or PC and where the ‘hierarchy of screens' comes into play (bigger screen is better). They might occasionally do the activities in other places but that is more out of need then out of want. Typical online activities such as buying groceries, doing online banking and even reading maps and planning routes tends to be done primarily at home rather than on the move.

Of those surveyed who owned 3 devices or more, only using a social networking site, uploading photos to a photo sharing site and looking up directions were activities identified as being carried out on average in more than two locations. Other activities including posting reviews, researching products, browsing news, online banking, watching videos or buying groceries were all carried out in less than two locations. This means that advertisers must put more thought into the content they provide for their target audiences, rather than focusing on the device that a consumer might be accessing it on. It's about being adaptive in your content approach, not device orientated.

Norm Johnston added: "Even though the development of new technology remains an exciting and evolutionary journey for manufacturers, consumers and marketing departments, we simply can't predict the type of device someone might use when completing an online activity. You simply have to have an adaptive approach to how a consumer will interact with your brand and don't get drawn into device specific marketing. "They will use what they have at hand and are just as likely to use a mobile as a PC. This means that if we limit the way consumers connect to a campaign by optimising for a device we will be forcing them to use a device which they might not naturally use for that activity and therefore run the risk of alienating consumers. We need to think about every platform available."

CES 2014 (CES) is set to the launch of 20,000 new products next week from phones and tablets, to smart TVs and wearable technology.

Download: Places not platforms report