If 2011 was the year of mobile, 2012 shows no signs of slowing down. “The post-PC era has arrived,” stated a BI Intelligence analyst. Over the past year, many major smartphone manufacturers released record breaking sales figures highlighting the extent to which mobile devices have established themselves as a presence and, in some cases, necessity in our day to day lives. ComScore’s 2011 mobile report states that there are almost 100 million smartphone subscribers in the US alone.

On February 17, Chitika Insights reported a 10% decline in Windows web browser market share as seen on our network, which we believe could be related to the trend of consumers who prefer to do more of their browsing from a mobile or tablet device. Taking our study a step further, we conducted a study to measure how mobile and PC usage varies with time of day and day of week. Our data comes from a sample taken from the last week of February that includes hundreds of millions of ad impressions. Both PC and mobile usage share are plotted on the graph below as a time series, with PC share on the left axis and Mobile share on the right axis (all hours are in Eastern Standard Time).

According to our data, mobile traffic represented an average of 10.55% of all web traffic over the one week period, a growth of 34.44% over levels measured in July of 2011. PCs make up the remainder of web traffic share at 89.45%. Furthermore, we can see a clear periodicity in usage, with PC and mobile traffic peaking at about the same time each day.

Breaking down mobile and PC web traffic patterns by the hour reveals further interesting behavioral patterns. Web traffic from mobile devices sees a sharp drop off overnight, and then gradually grows over waking hours in the US, finally peaking at the end of the EST day, generally around 8-10pm. We saw an 18.33% share of mobile web use at the highest point in our study. PC web usage plays a distinct counterpart to its mobile partner – maxing out in an almost opposite time frame in the early hours of the morning, and at the most extreme making up almost 95% of all web use.

Another way to look at the data from this study is to blend the results for each day together, showing only variation by hour, as shown above (again, PC share is on the left axis, Mobile on the right). The graph reveals that PC web usage experiences the highest share of overall web traffic in the early hours of the morning (3-5AM), perhaps influenced by night-owls surfing the web. Mobile web use can be shown to slowly pick up steam throughout the day from its 5AM low to its peak closer towards the end of the day and dropping off at around midnight.

This data illustrates clear intervals in which shifts in consumer behavior can lead to changes in the methods and forms of access used to gain information and connect with the outside world. Tablets and smartphones which now proliferate both work and home have emerged as more fluid alternatives for web based activities such as checking e-mail or monitoring bank statements. In the context of the work day, people may turn to their mobile devices as a method of accessing the web as the day progresses, causing the portion of overall web use from mobile devices to rise. For publishers, advertisers, and businesses with a mobile audience this information only becomes more pertinent as mobile devices establish their foothold as a real player in the world of advertising and e-commerce.

For publishers and advertisers, this data can be extremely valuable in fine tuning advertising strategies to match traffic composition and the time of day in order to optimize their revenues. Stay tuned to future Chitika Insights studies covering the mobile and PC space and how it influences and interacts with the tech world.

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