The New Multi-Screen World: Understanding Consumer Behaviour

According to a recent Google study, “90% of people move between
devices to accomplish a goal, whether that’s on smartphones, PCs,
tablets or TV.”

We have become a nation of multi-screen users.


The Google study is one of the largest and best-sourced research
projects we’ve found that adds data to the multi-screen phenomena that
has been growing over the past few years.

The full study is embedded at the bottom of this post for you to review
and also available as a PDF.

To help highlight some of the most important findings, we’ve also
summarized the key findings below.

Smartphones lead in interactions

The smartphone is the most common starting place for all online

Smartphones are the backbone of our daily media interactions. They have
the highest number of user interactions per day and serve as the most
common starting point for activities across multiple screens

It’s the first device people reach for and it’s the device that most
commonly binds together multi-screen interactions – bridging users’
experiences between tablets, PC / laptops and TVs.


But smartphone interactions are short. The average time spent per
interaction on a smartphone was the shortest of any device type at 17

So smartphone users are focused and need information fast. As the report
notes, the device we choose is driven by context and the smartphone is
the device that is most widely distributed and most readily available.

Multi-screen is Sequential and Simultaneous

Multi-screen usage has 2 key modes of usage: sequential and

  • Sequential – a user moves from one device to another in pursuit
    of a single goal
  • Simultaneous – a user is engaged with multiple devices at the
    same time

As Google reports:

We found that nine out of ten people use multiple screens sequentially
and that smartphones are by far the most common starting point for
sequential activity. So completing a task like booking a flight online
or managing personal finances doesn’t just happen in one sitting on
one device. In fact, 98% of sequential screeners move between devices
in the same day to complete a task.

Sequential usage makes it imperative that businesses help customers
start their experience on one device and easily bridge it to other
devices through features like saving in their cart or account.

One Web is Paramount for Success

A One Web approach is of paramount importance in a multi-screen

The W3C recommended a One Web approach in 2008 and the same guidance
needs to repeated and reinforced today.

When people move between devices to accomplish a single task they use
the following shortcuts to connect their usage.


For search, Google recommends tactics like keyword parity to ensure your
site is easily found by repeated searches.

We recommend taking that a step further and simple having website
parity. This is the core of the One Web concept – the same URLs and URL
structure for your website on all devices.

When someone navigates directly to your website or emails themselves a
link – the second and third-most common ways of connecting their tasks
– that link needs to work on every device.

People start their tasks in small moments during their day on their
smartphones. They email themselves a link to complete a transaction on
their laptop or tablet later in the day. That link has to work across
devices. If that link from their smartphone is a mobile dead end – an link – that customer is gone.

Next Steps to Multi-channel Success

Understand the mobile user experience with its 3 modes of mobile
. This is critical to both success in mobile and to success in a
multi-screen world.


Tackle the big, hard job of multichannel attribution. It’s necessary to
start to understand how the general trends and patterns of behavior in
studies like the Google study are consistent with or divergent from your
own customers’ behavior.

Talk to us if you need a One Web solution that adapts any website to
any device: mobile, tablets and more.

We’ve been thinking about and building products for the multi-screen
world for over 5 years now. The complexity of devices and of people’s
use of those devices is only going to increase. We’re ready today to
help connect you to your customers on all screens.