I’ve long been a fan of comScore‘s research and reports (see here and here), particularly since they include Canada. A new report has apparently come out. While I can’t find where to download a copy, a number of Canadian journalists have written about it. However, they wrote from a mere findings perspective. They focused on increases in time spent online, smartphone usage and our love of streaming video. Hum ho.

Don’t give up too fast, though. There appears to be an important dataset in the report that should be of interest to all communicators in Canada. Specifically, desktop computers (and laptops, I assume) are the dominant tools of our daytime Internet usage, and mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) dominate our evening usage.

Put the data to work for you

It’s important to understand why this might be the case. I suspect mobile devices dominate our evenings for two reasons. First, a tablet or smartphone is a more comfortable second screen than a laptop; and, the smaller device doesn’t obstruct the television in the same way. Second we tend to carry our mobile devices with us when we go out in the evening to social and sporting events, do errands and shuttle the kids around for extra-curricular activities.

So, why does all this matter? The usage patterns? The context under which the patterns are established?

If you have a message to communicate, a campaign to promote, or people with whom you wish to connect online, understanding where they are, what they’re doing and what device they’re using is critical to communicating with them more effectively. Is a sponsored FB post going to reach the hockey parent? Is a promoted tweet going to reach the binge-watching Game of Thrones fan? Should follow the online discussion already underway going to identify a good opportunity to join in?

What about format? The same short essay read on a laptop to better understand an issue is likely to be skimmed or ignored on a small screen. A video may be a welcome interruption during the day but will probably wait until the next commercial break in the evening (and may be forgotten by then). An emotionally energizing photo might be perfect during the evening yet fail miserably during the day. Which is the right time, context and format to promote the bottle of wine and which to promote the taxi ride home?

Remember that mainstream media report to the public, not the practitioner. Dig deeper for the real story when you see great data in the news.