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Nowadays, with all the gadgets available to us, multi-tasking with multiple devices has become a regularity.

While watching the game on TV, we’ll Tweet about it on our smartphone. When shopping on our PCs, we might use a tablet to find reviews. And if we have more questions about the cast members while watching The Bachelor, a quick web search on our phones does the trick.

A new study paid for by Microsoft Advertising breaks down how exactly people use different devices at the same time, with the goal to find better ways for advertisers to reach consumers.

“While marketers once generated content to fit manufactured and static advertising placements, consumers now control their own flow of content—from day to night, and from screens large and small,” writes Natasha Hritzuk, senior global director of Microsoft Advertising Research & Insights. “So it’s even more imperative that marketers understand consumer motivations in order to meet them in their moment.”

The survey, done by research firms Flamingo Research and Ipsos OTX, was conducted in five cities around the globe and found that consumers typically follow four multi-screening pathways.

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Content Grazing: The most common use of multiple devices is something called “content grazing.” This is simply using two or more devices to access unrelated content. The research found that 68 percent of computer users will check their email while watching TV, for example, or send a text message while playing on their Xbox 360.

Investigative Spider-Webbing: The second-most common use of multiple devices is “investigative spider-webbing,” which means searching for content on one device because of something you’re doing on another device. 57 percent of computer users engage in spider-webbing. This is like The Bachelor example above.

Quantum Journey: The research found that 46 percent of users use multiple devices to achieve a common goal. This is like the shopping example above.

Social Spider-Webbing: The least-common use of multiple devices is “social spider-webbing.” 39 percent of people use one device to share information about something accomplished on another device. For example, I could share my high score on Halo by using my tablet that has access to Facebook.

The findings should help advertisers better pinpoint their marketing campaigns. You can check out the full report here.

Previously on GeekWire: Report: Microsoft has sold just 1.5M Surface tablets

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