internet, planning, social networking, user-generating

quantifying digital behaviours

Two recent studies
by media owners are attempting to quantify the extent to which we are adopting
digital behaviours; ie audio / audiovisual downloads, creating / reading blogs,
or creating websites. Both the Guardian
and Emap have a vested interest in understanding these behaviours… as audiences
evolve and migrate to different channels for consuming information; impacts and
subsequent advertising revenues will follow.

The Guardian’s digi:nation project, which aims to “get a clear
picture of how the online population are engaging and interacting with digital
, surveyed 1,016 Guardian Unlimited users and 2,912 nationally
representative online respondents.  Another
project from Emap – The Insider – aims
to “offer greater understanding of
consumer behaviour and tracks consumer trends as they emerge”
. It consists of a panel of 10,000 members, all
of whom have been recruited from Emap’s media brands.

The surveys
indicate that:

  • 67% of the UK population have tried some form of digital activity1
  • 1/3 of the digi:nation1 and 54% of The Insider’s panel2 had read a blog – of whom half of the latter read a blog at least once a week2
  • The Insider’s blog-consumption figure of 54% rises to 69% of 15-24s
  • 10% of the digi:nation have created their own blog1
  • 17% of the digi:nation have created their own website1
  • 43% of The Insider panel have created their own spaces2
  • 55% of The Insider panel have accessed social networking sites2
  • Women are more likely to be heavy users (everyday) of SN sites than men – 24% to 20% 
  • Finally, whilst over half the digi:nation have downloaded music, only 8% have downloaded a podcast1

from Guardian’s digi:nation
survey – for more click here

from Emap’s The Insider
survey – for more click here

So what does this
all mean? Primarily these surveys are
putting quantifiable flesh on the bones of a belief in the industry that
blogging and social networking aren’t restricted to niche groups but have
become mainstream in terms of participation.  In addition the numbers of people creating as
opposed to just consuming these media are higher then you’d perhaps expect.

But as a result of
this, the research reminds us of two key considerations for the planning and
buying of commercial impacts. One, the
challenge to mainstream media in terms of the sheer volume of content that is
being produced and consumed by citizens, (although that fact that much of this,
certainly in the case of social networking, is now under the ownership of
established media owners – specifically MySpace and Newscorp – means it can be
planned and reached conventionally).

But secondly, and
following on from point one; any advertiser wading into consumer generated
waters must tread carefully… because blogging and social networking sites present
content to consumers in a personalised context, and as a result there’s a
veritable minefield of pissed off content creators and irritated UG content
consumers. It’s their world. They are creating and consuming it. And they have a prescribed notion of who and
who isn’t welcome.

The upshot for
advertisers?; If you want to talk to internet users (and most of them do), you
won’t be able to achieve mass reach without using UGC sites. And if you’re going to go there – have
something to say and say it in a relevant way; you may not get an answer, but
you’ll stand a much better chance of being listened to.


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