Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010, digital marketers have been challenged to understand how consumers engage with 2 new categories of mobile devices:  1) Smartphones, 2) Tablets. Earlier this year, the Adobe Digital Index reported on mobile trends and insights based on the analysis of more than 23 billion digital transactions captured by the Adobe Digital Marketing Suite. For example, we published reports on the “Rise of tablets and the impact on mobile web engagement” (See link) and “Impact of tablets on retail websites” (See link).

To complement this research that focuses on actual visitor behavior, Adobe recently completed a qualitative survey of over 1200 mobile users across age groups located in the US:  young (18–29), middle-aged (30–49), and older (50–64). We are glad to share the following conclusions and insights:

Mobile device ownership

  • For consumers who own both a smartphone and a tablet, the primary device is still the smartphone (88%).
  • Android smartphones are the most popular by ownership percentage (58% young, 50% middle, 38% senior) across all age groups.
  • Apple tablets (iPads) are the most popular with young (27%) and middle age (31%) groups. However, the Kindle Fire is the leader among seniors (22%). A majority of tablet owners (56%) share their device with other family members.

Social media and mobile access

  • Facebook is the dominant social network accessed via mobile at 85%, followed by Twitter at 35%, and Google+ at 21%.
  • A majority of brands provide mobile-optimized experiences for offers that are launched from their Facebook fan pages via mobile devices.
  • Over 87% of young and middle age groups access social media via mobile devices.

Mobile advertising

  • Mobile ads presented in both sites and apps have a high click-through rate (42% and 37%, respectively).
  • A majority of advertisers provide mobile-optimized experiences when consumers click through on ads.
  • Men are more likely to click through on mobile ads presented within apps than women (42% versus 32%).

Emerging Tactics and Technology

  • Scanning QR codes is becoming a mainstream activity: 38% of young and 40% of middle age have scanned in the past three months.
  • Location services are on the rise and are being driven by consumer incentives to check in. Younger demo­graphics are more likely to check in (35%) versus senior at 18%.
  • Augmented reality and mobile wallets are still in the early stages. Only 19% of young adults have used augmented reality or mobile wallets. Men are more likely than women to use these emerging technologies.

What is surprising?

When I review these conclusions, the most surprising metric to me is that over 42 percent of our sample have clicked-thru on mobile advertising, displayed on mobile websites. This is noteworthy given some of the recent challenges that Facebook has experienced in monetizing social media consumed on mobile devices.  In addition, consumers reported that a majority of advertisers are providing mobile-optimized experiences when they click through ads on both mobile websites (73 percent) and mobile apps (77 percent), suggesting that optimization of mobile ad content appears to be prevalent.  However, there still remains room for improvement since ideally 100 percent of mobile advertising should drive consumers to mobile optimized landing pages.

Finally, for emerging tactics, over 40 percent of middle-aged adults have recently scanned QR codes, which shows that innovative mobile tactics are not isolated to just young adults.  To download the complete survey results along with recommendations and best practices, please click the following link:  Mobile consumer survey 2012.

Furthermore, please see the following blogpost for insights related to the mobile user experience that were also part of the survey:  Mobile consumer design tips.