Here's How Many Times People Switch Devices In A Single Hour

One of the big initiatives at both Facebook and Google right now is to more accurately track users across devices by figuring out which smartphone, tablet, and desktop belongs to a given customer.

Such tracking allows them to more easily prove to advertisers that the ads they’ve sold them are working by showing, for instance, that a Facebook ad a woman saw on a smartphone during her lunch break convinced her to make a purchase via desktop after she returned home from work.

A new study from the British unit of advertising buyer OMD shows just how massively important this cross-device tracking has become to monitoring a given consumer’s behaviour.

In looking at the behaviour of 200 Brits during one evening, OMD found that the average person shifted his attention between his smartphone, tablet, and laptop a staggering 21 times in one hour.

OMD insight director Chris Worrell told the advertising publication Brand Republic that the research showed that people are always “one reach away from distraction,” an indication that the advertising industry should consider offering shorter ads to capture fragmented attention spans.

“We think brands need to experiment with new formats that fit with these new consumption patterns,” Worrell told Brand Republic. “Things like skippable ads on YouTube are almost priming people to expect that after the first five seconds of an ad, you can choose to stay with it or move on.”

The results of the study confirm comments made in September by Google ad sales chief Neal Mohan, who told attendees of the Smarter Mobile Marketing conference that more than 90% of today’s consumers switch effortlessly between devices to complete a task, with 500% more people simultaneously using multiple devices than were three years prior.

His company announced an upgrade to its ad offerings the following month that uses Google login data to track purchases made across devices. Facebook has offered similar cross-device conversion statistics for the past year.

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