Understanding global device traffic in a multi-screen world

ScreensIn case you hadn’t noticed, there has been an explosion in the number of smartphone and tablet devices on the market today.

During the last decade, thousands of new connected devices on a range of different platforms have emerged to transform the way we consume and engage with content.

From Google Glass and smart fridges to ‘browsers at bus stops’ that might allow you to plan your journey, the internet is becoming ubiquitous and mobile in ways never before seen.

In fact, as the Internet of Things becomes a reality, we can expect more and more devices to ‘go online’. Innovations in connected devices represent a tremendous opportunity for businesses, but they have also created a very fragmented space, with new device categories emerging all the time.

The goalposts keep on moving and businesses are caught in a never-ending battle to ensure that their content works across all devices, all of the time.

Without knowledge of each new device, through some kind of device awareness, businesses are blind to a growing percentage of devices – and, in effect, end-users. This is already a mission critical area for the advertising world, which simply must be able to address any audience accurately no matter what connected devices they have in their pockets.

For content publishers, the dominance of Apple’s mobile devices in major markets such as the UK (where iOS accounts for 65.26% of non-desktop web traffic), the US (62.72%), and Canada (73.47%) often tempts them to focus on developing and testing content solely for iOS, or a small subset of the latest devices.

However, our latest Global Device Traffic Index shows that out of the 101 countries where we track usage data, iOS devices dominated browsing in just 34, while Android came out top in some 67 countries.

And those nations aren’t in far flung corners of the earth either. Central Europe, for example, emerged as a stronghold for browsing on the more fragmented Android platform – and we are currently tracking over 6,000 different Android devices. Can global businesses really afford to ignore hundreds of potential customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, among many others?

Not only does content and advertising need to be optimised for different operating systems and device characteristics: advertisers and publishers should be aware of variances in device usage present in different countries.

For example, China is characterised by local device brands where the top ten devices for browsing includes seven different manufacturers, including HTC and Samsung, as well as local brands Huawei, Xiaomi and ZTE. With the World Bank predicting that China could overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy as early as this year, this is a market with increasing spending power that advertisers must be able to reach effectively.

With the FIFA World Cup fast approaching, advertisers and publishers should also take heed of device usage in Brazil – seven out of the top ten connected devices in the South American country are made by Samsung and account for 35.58% of the country’s non-desktop web traffic.

In addition, heritage mobile brands that have fallen out of favour in countries like the US are still well used in international markets. Nokia remains a significant player across the world; ranking well in Tanzania, India and Vietnam and commands the top ranking in Bangladesh where its devices carry 26.63% of that country’s mobile web traffic. Even in its home market of Finland web usage of Nokia devices comes in at 10.04%. BlackBerry devices come out on top only in South Africa, with 39.34% of traffic, but are still widely used to browse the web in Canada and Britain.

While the huge array of connected devices continues to grow at lightning speed, advertisers and publishers need to ensure they remain up-to-date with the mobile tech that global consumers are glued to. Without adequate knowledge of a whole host of connected devices, it is supremely difficult to effectively target and reach the right people with the correct, technically optimised content or message.

In this context, digital marketers in both the publishing and advertising environments need to seek out solutions that can help them manage this influx of new consumer technology and help adapt their content strategies to deliver contextually sympathetic content that has been designed to fit the user’s context. After all, if consumers can’t access your content, they can’t respond to it.

Martin Clancy is head of marketing, DeviceAtlas at dotMobi