Urban Life Survey Shows Smart Phone Usage Spread

Geny Caloisi

A new research found that the use of smart phones is now very much part of the urban everyday life and people are keen on seeing more interaction and dynamic advertising. Out-of-home communications agency, Posterscope UK and free London newspaper, Metro UK have collaborated on a research study to further understand the attitudes and behaviours of urbanite audiences in relation to digital and interactive OOH and location based mobile and social media. Metro’s national Urban Life panel of 1,000 readers were surveyed.

Readers were asked about their use of mobile phones for things other than text and phone calls. Usage of Facebook, Twitter, email, games, music, web browsing, online shopping and other apps were analysed.

James Davies, Director of Hyperspace,  the digital and innovations division of Posterscope, explains how this research came about, “Whilst we plan and execute almost all forms of communication that are encountered out of the home, Metro for obvious reasons is planned alongside other press activity, even though most of it’s consumption takes place OOH.  Given that we have such commonality we have both been looking for opportunities to collaborate so working together on a phase of their Urban Life survey was an obvious step to take.”

The research discovered that people’s outdoor daily activities in major cities across the country are very similar to those of the London audience. The only significant difference is that Londoners are more likely to use email functionality (31% vs 18%), based on all respondents.

Amongst active users of these smart phone features; travelling by bus or train, waiting at bus stops, travelling on trains and waiting at stations are all key times for using Facebook (44% do so), web browsing (32%) and emailing (32%). Although one might expect that buses and bus stops could to be more synonymous with Facebook usage and trains to be more conducive for email and Twitter they found that in fact there is little difference.

Gaming is much more prolific on the London Underground than any of the other OOH environments analysed with 65% doing so.

Another thing the research tried to find out was how well known and well used are the various location based social networks such as Facebook Places, Foursquare and Gowalla

  • Facebook places has the highest awareness (41%) with Foursquare at 30%.
  • 48% have never heard of any of them.
  • 18% have checked in to a location using such a service.
  • Facebook places is relatively well known in major cities outside of London (38% vs 43% in London).
  • Similarly Foursquare doesn’t suffer from a major London skew with 32% awareness in London vs other major cities at 28%.

Location based mobile games such as scavenger hunts and outdoor augmented reality challenges are growing in popularity:

  • 36% of urbanites would consider playing, rising to 63% if the prize or rewards were good enough. Urbanites claim that posters and OOH screens do encourage them to do things.
  • 45% have taken action as result of seeing an ad on a poster or advertising screen.
  • 28% have searched for an advertised product online.


Respondents favoured dynamic digital OOH screens ads

  • 62% favour screen ads that have animated/moving creative.
  • 43% recommend that brands change elements of the creative very frequently.
  • 40% recommend incorporating entertaining or useful information.
  • 28% recommend including live content (e.g. from social networks, video streams, etc.).


Where would they be willing to interact with digital OOH screen installations ?

  • Railway stations (48%).
  • Shopping Malls (49%).
  • Bus stops (41%).

These findings demonstrate that both OOH and the Metro newspaper can play some key roles in influencing the ‘digital and mobile behaviour’ of the important and large scale Urbanite demographic.

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