Mobile surfing now more popular than reading

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Europeans spend more time accessing the internet from their mobile phones while they're out and about than reading newspapers or magazines.

According to the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA), the average European spends 6.4 hours a week browsing the web from a mobile device, versus 4.8 hours reading newspapers and 4.1 hours magazines.

The EIAA's Mediascope Europe study spoke to 15,000 people in 15 European markets, looking at how consumers are engaging with the internet and its impact on their everyday lives.

In general, it found that mobile internet is increasingly finding its way into the public consciousness on the back of improving mobile broadband coverage and greater availability and variety of web-enabled hardware.

Over 71 million Europeans now have internet access on their mobile phones, despite the fact that nearly half (47 per cent) of those questioned admitted they were unaware that mobile devices could be used online. In the UK that figure is lower (42 per cent), with 10 million people in the UK now accessing the internet via their mobile phones in a typical week and spending 6.3 hours doing so.

Unsurprisingly, younger generations of Britons are leading the way, with nearly half (43 per cent) of the country's 16- to 24-year-olds and a quarter (26 per cent) of 25- to 34-year-olds using the mobile internet, spending a respective 6.5 and 6.4 hours online each week.

Entertainment plays a central role in our mobile internet lives, with one in five UK consumers using their phones for online gaming, a third listening to online radio and 39 per cent watching films, TV or other video at least once a month.

One third of those using an internet-enabled phone said they received video, images or other multimedia on their mobile, and 61 per cent say they pass on content they receive.

From a communication point of view, fully 80 per cent of those questioned agreed that the internet has made it easier for them to stay in touch with friends and family.

Alison Fennah, executive director of the EIAA, said mobile internet use had now matured to the point that marketers should be looking to develop strategies that reach and connect with consumers more effective regardless of platform.

"Better devices and connectivity, as well as enhanced consumer motivation, all started coming together in 2009 to improve and extend the overall online experience," Fennah said.

"As a result, the internet is now being consumed across PC, laptop, mobile and gaming devices, providing 24-7 access to digital information and entertainment. This presents a compelling case for brands to explore and incorporate a growing number of complementary interactive platforms into the marketing mix."