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A digital omnivore is a descriptive term meant to capture the indiscriminate and seamless modalities that consumers use to access the World Wide Web. This cultural meme reflects "the popularization of smartphones and the introduction of tablets and other web-enabled devices that allow consumers to access media content through several touch-points during the course of their daily digital lives." As Mobile Web users increasingly own mobile devices, cross-platform multimedia consumption will continue to re-shape the digital landscape, both in terms of the type of media content they consume and how they consume it.
According to a new 2011 survey from comScore, "smartphones and tablets are driving nearly 7% of all digital traffic in the United States, with two-thirds of that growth attributed to smartphones alone." Today, half of the U.S. mobile population uses mobile media, up 19% in the past year to more than 116 million people. This growth is only expected to increase as 36.1% of Americans over the age of 13 now own a smartphone.
Digital omnivores are a global phenomenon driving 5% of all non-computer device Internet traffic in August 2011.Singapore leads the way at 7.2%, while the U.S and the United Kingdom both score 6.8% and Australia and Canada complete the top five global markets with 5.3% and 4.4%, respectively. Looking deeper into the 6.8% of non-PC web-browsing done in the U.S., we find that 64.4% comes from mobile phones, 28.1% from tablets and 7.5% from other devices such as game consoles and e-readers. This means that in the U.S. about 4% of overall web browsing comes from smartphones and 1.6% from tablets. While small, these figures point to the way people are beginning to toggle between devices across various day-parts.
An analysis of the way consumers in the U.S. viewed news content on different devices throughout the day demonstrates the influence devices have on the way people consume content. On a typical weekend morning digital omnivores access their news using their tablet, favor their computer during the working day and return to tablet use in the evening, peaking between the hours of 9pm and midnight. Mobile phones are used for web-browsing throughout the day when users are away from their personal computer.
Increased Wi-Fi availability and mobile broadband adoption are changing the way people are going online today. "In August 2011, more than a third (37.2%) of U.S. digital traffic coming from mobile phones occurred via a Wi-Fi connection while tablets, which traditionally required a Wi-Fi connection to access the Internet, are increasingly driving traffic using mobile broadband access."
Tablets, while not yet widely adopted, already contribute nearly 2% of all web browsing traffic in the United States. This traffic is driven almost exclusively by the iPad, which accounted for more than 97% of all tablet traffic in the second half of 2011. During this period, iPads also began to account for a higher share of Internet traffic than iPhones (46.8% vs. 42.6% of all iOS device traffic.
In the U.S., tablet users largely display the demographic characteristics of early technology adopters: younger males (49.5% under the age of 34) with above average incomes (45.9% belong to households earning $100,000 or more a year).
At this point in time, more than half of tablet users report that they have used their tablet at least once in the previous month for activities such as social networking, online shopping, consuming news, and viewing videos for entertainment. As the current trend of content providers optimizing their sites for tablets and creating tablet-specific apps continues, it is likely that tablet owners will interact with these devices even more.
While messaging to a set of connected consumers who move effortlessly between their online and terrestrial lives may seem chaotic, complex and difficult to navigate, it is actually presenting opportunities never before thought possible. Media execution and buying are quickly becoming the new creativity levers for marketers as each smartphone, tablet and other connected device represents a unique canvas for media engagement. Brands that strategically manage their communication strategy across this complementary messaging matrix are best positioned to create long term loyalty and high engagement with their audiences. Consumers are utilizing a full-spectrum of digital devices now and cultural communicators must understand these patterns in order to develop incremental, unduplicated reach across the entire digital ecosystem.