It’s a Four-Screen World Baby

People speak of “three screens”: TV, PC and mobile. We need to change that to four screens to acknowledge the growing importance of tablets. We already know that tablets (iPads) have the highest engagement metrics of any of the many screens and that the devices are much more significant for transactions — “t-commerce” — than smartphones.

Today the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism put out a report that shows tablet owners are huge news consumers, often to the detriment of other news mediums: PC, TV and print. They’re also an older, more educated and more affluent bunch than other screen users. 

You can read the full report, but here are a few top-level bullets:

  • Consuming news is roughly as popular as sending and receiving email and more popular than social networking, gaming, reading books or watching movies and videos
  • 77% of all tablet users get news at least weekly and now spend “more time getting news than they did before they had their tablet.”
  • 33% of tablet news users say they are turning to new sources for news on their tablet, sources they had not turned to on other platforms such as television or their desktop computer
  • 40% get news principally through a browser; 31% use both browser and apps; 21% get news mainly through apps. While news-app consumers are the minority they’re more engaged and more satisfied than browser-news consumers

The demographics of tablet ownership (right now) make them a way to target affluent and educated users more directly than on other screens. However all publishers and marketers will need both smartphone and tablet strategies going forward. Do you need an app or are you simply going to rely on your browser-based site?

Attribution and tracking become much more complicated as people bounce from real-world stimuli to PC to smartphone to tablet and back. 

Not counting Nooks and Kindles there are 46 million tablet devices globally in market: 6 million Android devices and 40 million iPads. In the US more than 95% of tablet traffic is from iPads. Millennial Media said that iPad impressions on its network grew 456% year over year.

By the end of Q4 or early Q1 there should be several million Kindle Fires in the market and as many as 55 million iPads. Other than the Kindle Fire, however, none of the other full-fledged Android tablets are currently in a position to capture much market share.