Ofcom have just published their latest Communications Market Report, a comprehensive survey of the UK population’s communication and media consumption habits.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be discussing Ofcom’s key findings, specifically in terms of smartphone penetration and usage, trends in social media and the latest statistics on the split of advertising spends by channel, but initially we thought we’d focus on giving you the headline facts we’ve gleaned from the report’s 341 pages.
Smartphone Adoption and Mobile Internet Usage on the Rise
27% of adults in the UK now have a smartphone. Those that own one are most likely to be younger, male and from the ABC1 social grades. Apple’s iPhone still has the largest market share but Blackberry handsets are more popular amongst younger users.
This growth in smartphone adoption is clearly driving increased mobile internet usage – in Q1 2011, 28% of adults claimed to have used their mobile phone for internet access, up from 22% on Q1 2010. Although the incremental growth of mobile web usage in the past 12 months is not dramatic, the increase in data usage observed by the mobile networks has been – trebling in the past 3 years. Those that own smartphones clearly like to make the most of the functionality they offer.
Regular App Downloading – a Niche Pursuit
Whilst many companies focus their mobile strategies around apps, Ofcom’s figures suggest that regular app downloading is a relatively niche pursuit.
Whilst 47% of adult smartphone users have downloaded an app, only 1 in 5 do so regularly. This regular app downloading market is skewed towards males in the 25-34 age bracket.
Tablets and Ereaders – Low Penetrations But Potential to Grow
2% of the UK’s population own a tablet computer, with Apple’s iPad accounting for 95% of this market. Ofcom found that tablets have plenty of room for growth but at present are not as popular as ereaders, which are owned by 4% of the UK population.
Interestingly, the figures would suggest that ereaders could prove to have more universal appeal across age brackets – the adoption levels observed were fairly even across age groups and only fell away amongst the very oldest demographics.
The Online Dominance of Google and Facebook Continues
Google is the most popular site in the UK by reach – 79% of active internet users have visited its homepage – but Facebook dominates time online, accounting for 169m hours in April 2011 or 2 1/2 hours for everyone in the UK. The site in 2nd place, eBay, accounts for 30m hours – less than 1/5 of Facebook’s total.
48% of the UK population now have a social networking profile. 1 in 5 hours spent on the internet in April was spent on social networking sites and 90% of that time was spent on Facebook.
Google may have launched Google+, but it’s going to take a herculean effort to break Facebook’s stranglehold on the social networking market.
Groupon Drives Growth of Coupon and Reward Sector
Visitors to coupon and rewards sites have increased by 25% in the past year. In April 2011, 15m people in the UK visited them.
Much of this growth has been driven by the phenomenal success of Groupon, which in the 12 months to April has seen growth of almost 7000% in its unique audience. By April 2011, it was reaching 16% of all UK internet users.
But Despite All These Distractions, We Still Love Sitting in Front of the TV
Despite the plethora of media at our disposal, it seems that sitting in front of the TV is still as popular as it always was. Adults in the UK spent 242 minutes daily watching TV on a TV set, up by 23 minutes on 2005.
Over the last 10 years, overall TV consumption has proven to remarkably resilient – actually showing modest growth in the period. And no decline is likely anytime soon – whilst 3D TVs are yet to take off (c1% of sales in 2010) internet-enabled TVs are proving to be popular with 1m sold (about 10% of the new TV market) in 2010.
New Communications Are Being Adopted Faster Than Ever
If you thought the pace of change was increasing in terms of adoption of new technology, you’d be right. Ofcom found that the amount of time it took new technologies to reach the tipping point of 50% penetration was rapidly decreasing. So, mobile phones took 15 years to reach this point, Digital TV and Broadband 7 years but social media took only 4 years. Smartphones are expected to take only 5.
The challenge for marketers is to keep up with this rapid pace of change, to understand which technologies are relevant for their audience and brand and to explore ways in which they can enhance the delivery of their message.
If you’d like to read Ofcom’s Communications Market Report for yourself, it’s available to download here.