Tablets and TV – media consumption in the home

The average UK household now owns more than three types of internet-enabled devices and tablet ownership has more than doubled in the last year.  Over 50% of adults in the UK now own a smartphone.  These trends are impacting how the population consumes and interacts with digital media.

Ofcom, the UK’s communications industries regulator, has released its latest Communications Market Report, providing a snapshot of changing media behaviour in UK households.

Tablet devices

  • 24% of households now own a tablet computer.
  • 95% use it at least once a week; two thirds use it every day
  • 9% of households own more than one tablet device
  • Half of tablet owners say “they couldn’t live without them”
  • A third of them use their tablets as their main way of connecting to the internet
  • Half of tablet users have downloaded one or more TV apps

Changes in TV viewing

The growth of tablet ownership is driving the trend of ‘second screening’:

  • 22% of households with a tablet use it to watch different content in the same room all or most of the time
  • More adults are watching TV on their main set than a decade ago (91% up from 88% in 2002)
  • 53% of UK adults are ‘media multi-tasking’ while watching TV
  • 25% are ‘media meshing’ while watching TV – this includes texting about what they are watching; tweeting or using apps to communicate directly with programmes
  • 49% are using devices to undertake unrelated tasks while watching TV – anything from online shopping to social networking
  • The number of TVs per household is in decline – but the screens are getting bigger

Teens texting less

  • 84% of 16-24 year olds use at least one form of web-based communication (email; instant messaging; social media) every week
  • 80% of them are texting at least every week
  • Social networking is now the most popular form of web-based communication

The report also covers growth rates in superfast broadband; household spend on media and communications; radio and TV industry revenues and online shopping.

You can download the report here.


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Twitter: from communication to content

In 2010, Twitter positioned itself as “a network powered by people … around the world… that lets you share and discover what’s happening now”.  By 2012 this had shifted to “a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions…” and advises users to “follow the conversations” and states you don’t have to tweet to gain value from Twitter.

A study of 2500 non-commercial Twitter users sets out to discover how they are using Twitter and what motivates them to share content in an attempt to predict how Twitter will continue to evolve.  The authors (Olivier Toubia, Columbia Business School and Andrew T. Stephen, University of Pittsburgh) selected users at random and increased the number of their followers by using synthetic accounts.  They noticed that as the number of followers increased, account holders would increase the number of times they posted.  However this activity would slow down once a certain number of followers was reached.  They conclude that the profile of Twitter itself will continue to evolve from a communications vehicle to a content delivery vehicle.


  • Fewer ‘everyday’ people – the authors predict a slowdown of activity from ‘normal’ users and a continued increase in commercial and celebrity activity.
  • Twitter will shift from a communications vehicle to a content delivery vehicle
  • The value non-commercial users get from Twitter will shift away from the production of content to the consumption of [commercial] content
  • First are likely to derive more value from Twitter by using it as a media channel to broadcast content to consumers rather than as a viral marketing platform

Originally published in Marketing Science, Intrinsic versus Image-Related Motivations in Social Media: Why do People Contribute to Twitter? was written by Olivier Toubia, Columbia Business School and Andrew T. Stephen, University of Pittsburgh. Download the full report.

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Measuring the digital economy

Research suggests the government is seriously underestimating the size of the UK’s digital economy.

A report by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) commissioned by Google sets out to establish the true size of the UK’s digital economy.  The UK government has been using industry classification codes (SICs) to estimate that there are approximately 120,000 digital economy companies in the UK.  However, the NIESR research suggests that this figure is far too conservative.  Its own lowest estimate is 270,000.making digital businesses 14.4% of the total number of businesses in the UK (the government estimates 10%).

The report calls for improved measurement of the UK’s digital economy.  By switching from SIC-based models to measures derived from big data, the country could gain a richer picture of the digital economy.  Using this type of data for example would show that the digital economy’s share of jobs in the UK is 11%, not the 5% currently stated by government measures.  Other interesting findings derived from this type of rich analysis include the fact that the digital economy is not made up mostly of start-ups but that companies in this area have roughly the same average age as other companies.  Digital economy companies employ more people on average than other companies and are reporting faster growth rates.


The challenge of measuring aspects of the digital economy is being addressed by the EU, which in May 2013 announced it is launching a project to measure the size of Europe’s ‘app economy’.  According to David Dean of The Boston Consulting Group (speaking at a European Internet Forum dinner) Europe is already a winner in the digital economy.  He estimates that Europe’s internet economy will be worth 1 trillion Euros by 2016.

However some European countries are lagging behind and there are several countries catching up on Europe as digital economies, including Mexico, South Africa and Indonesia.

Social login and sharing

Recent research from Janrain explored trends in the use of social login (where users can register and log in to websites using their social network identity) and showed that Facebook is the most popular choice with 46% of the total share.

Gigya has now added to this research, analysing data from its clients for Q2 2013 to review how the landscape of social login and sharing is evolving.  Key findings from Gigya:

Social login preferences

  • Facebook leads the way with 52% of total preferred social logins
  • Google+ is in a clear second place with 24%
  • Yahoo is in third place with 17%
  • Twitter has 4%; LinkedIn = 1%

For online retail sites, Facebook is a clear leader with 79% followed by Google+ with 12% (Gigya expects Google’s percentage to increase with the growth of Google Wallet.

Social sharing preferences

For Gigya’s clients, Facebook leads the way when it comes to social content sharing with 50%.  However, both Twitter (24%) and Pinterest (16%) are significant players here.  Indeed, when it comes to social sharing in ecommerce, Pinterest (41%) has taken top spot away from Facebook (27%).  Google+ is way down the table – behind LinkedIn – with only 2% of social sharing activity.


In a separate study (by Power Formula) the growth and impact of LinkedIn as a networking tool is considered.  Key findings:

  • 15% of users pay for the enhanced LinkedIn service; 85% use the free service
  • Group membership – 35% of LinkedIn users are members of 1-9 groups – but an astonishing 2% had no idea that LinkedIn offered groups
  • 52% of people used LinkedIn for between 0 and 2 hours every week

How are people using LinkedIn?

  • Researching people and companies (76%)
  • Reconnecting with business associates/colleagues (70%)
  • Build new networking relationships (45%)
  • Increase face to face networking effectiveness (41%)

Most helpful LinkedIn features

  • Who’s viewed your profile? (71%)
  • People you may know (65%)
  • Groups (61%)
  • Direct messaging (49%)
  • Advanced people search (47%)
  • Searching for companies (46%)

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Mobile users: data vs minutes

Data allowances are now more important that voice minutes.

Over 1600 respondents to a uSwitch survey in the UK reported what their priorities were when they last negotiated a mobile contract – and what will be their priorities next time.

  • 43% of respondents say that data allowances will be the most important feature of their next mobile contract (up from 35%)
  • 41% say voice minute allowances will be the most important feature (down from 47%)

Other interesting findings show how mobile usage patterns are changing:

  • 26% of respondents talk for less than 30 minutes per month.
  • 23% are using the web more than five hours a month
  • Only 9% are using voice for more than five hours a month

Respondents also nominated the most important functions on their phones and were asked what they couldn’t do without:

  • 54% said radio/music
  • Apps were nominated by 33.5%
  • 29.1% said email, closely followed by web browsing (26.8%)
  • 20.7% said camera
  • 24.5% said they needed every function on their phones

Meanwhile, Pew Internet has been researching the increased ownership of smartphones in the US.  56% of Americans now possess a smartphone, with the proportion increasing to 81% of 25-34 year-olds.

The global percentage of smartphone penetration amongst mobile users is expected to reach just under 33% and will reach 50% by 2017.   The first six countries to exceed this 50% rate were Australia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, the UK and the US.  France, Germany, Italy and Spain are expected to cross the 50% line in 2014, meaning that the whole of Western Europe will have exceeded 50% penetration.  This upward trend of smartphone ownership will impact on the demand for increased data allowances.

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Flexible working arrangements and the talent pool

New technologies and working practices should mean that many people can work at a time, and from a location, of their choosing.  But what is the real picture?

Catalyst has been conducting a longitudinal study of ‘high potential’ graduates of leading business schools in Asia, Canada, Europe and the US.  The study sets out to assess career values, goals and expectations and to explore strategies for managing work and family life.

Its latest report explores flexible work arrangements (FWA) and sets out to discover how these arrangements impact the careers of men and women.

Flexible work arrangements include:

  • Compressed work weeks
  • Flexible start and finish times
  • Flexitime
  • Job sharing
  • Reduced time/part time working
  • Telecommuting

The report finds that 81% of respondents are currently working for an organisation that offers some form of FWA, with little difference between organisational type or size.

Key findings

The report finds a correlation between high career aspirations and access to FWAs: 90% of the ‘high potentials’ who had access to FWAs said they aspired to senior executive level roles.  This number drops to 77% in workplaces with no flexible working arrangements.  The gap is even wider for female respondents.  Women in these workplaces were much more likely to ‘downsize’ their career aspirations.

  • At least half of respondents stated that FWAs are very or extremely important.  Women were more likely to say this.
  • Women were more likely to report using telecommuting frequently or very frequently (39%) than men (29%)

The report concludes that ‘face time’, where employees are seen to be working, is still important in many organisations.

Maximising the talent pool

Offering flexible working to employees allows organisations to maximise the talent pool amongst its employees.  Both men and women are more likely to aspire to top roles within organisations that do offer flexible working.  If organisations want to be employers of choice for top talent then they should strive to develop a culture that trusts employees to deliver, irrespective of the amount of ‘face-time’ they put in.

More information.

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Managing information risk – European business must do better

European companies are improving when it comes to managing information risk, but they must do even better.

PWC and Iron Mountain have published their 2013 Risk Maturity Index, exploring attitudes to information risk and examples of best practice in mid-sized businesses in six countries in Europe (France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain and UK*).  Their findings suggest there has been some improvement in attitudes to information risk, but that there is still a long way to go.  Middle sized (250-2,500 employees) European companies are ‘ill equipped’ to navigate the complex information landscape.

Key findings of the study

  • Awareness of the importance of information risk management is growing
  • The average number of data breaches is growing 50% per year
  • 36% of companies are keeping all of their data ‘just in case’
  • Only 45% of companies have an information risk strategy
  • 42% of those surveyed are worried about the security of their company’s stored data
  • Only 25% consider their employees to be a serious threat to information security
  • 45% do not monitor employee social media use

National differences

Companies in the Netherlands performed better than in any other country.  They were more likely to have strategies and plans in place to deal with BYOD and minor data ‘mishaps’. They were also much more likely to have a corporate risk register.  Alongside companies in France, Dutch businesses were most likely to treat information risk at board level.

Hungary takes second place in the Risk Maturity Index.  Over the last 12 months, businesses have focused on raising employees’ awareness of information risk issues and providing relevant training.

Spanish companies lag behind those in other countries and are least likely to provide guidelines to employees or to have key security measures in place.

Best practice

  •  Information management and risk must be a board level issue
  • Information audits – identify what you have, where it is stored and how it is classified
  • Operate a policy of ‘controlled trust’

*600 senior managers were interviewed in mid-sized businesses in the six countries.

The White Paper is free to download from Iron Mountain.

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Digital natives love libraries!

America’s ‘digital natives’ are fans of digital content and traditional media.

The latest research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that 16-29 year olds are heavy users of technology but they are also more likely than older adults to have read a print book in the last year.  They are also great supporters of libraries, appreciating both ‘traditional’ library services and expressing intense interest in new services.  They also appreciate and use the library as a ‘space’.

Digital natives and libraries

  • 75% say it is ‘very important’ for libraries to offer books for people to borrow
  • 44% of library visitors under age 30 have used a library’s computers, internet or wi-fi connections (compared to 27% of those aged 30 and older)
  • When it came to expressing what it is very important for libraries to offer, ‘librarians’ came top of the list (80%)
  • 76% said it was very important that libraries offer research resources such as free databases
  • 75% say free access to computers and the internet is very important
  • 71% say it is very important for libraries to offer job or career resources
  • Younger adults are more likely than older patrons to use libraries’ computer and internet connections, access library websites, and use a library’s research databases.

Interest in the new

Respondents to the survey also expressed interest in new ways of engaging with libraries and their holdings.

  • 67% said they would be interested in a digital media lab to create and upload new digital content
  • They express an interest in apps and other digital engagement points for their libraries and the information resources they provide.

The research is available from

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Collaborating to ensure cybersecurity

Earlier this year the European Commission published its Cybersecurity Strategy.

The document called for the development of a platform to bring public and private sector stakeholders together so they could share good practice and develop secure ICT solutions.

At about the same time in the US, President Obama published an executive order which also focused on the importance of protecting infrastructure from cyberattacks.

Both initiatives reflect the invaluable contribution that the digital economy makes to society and the economy and the importance of protecting sites and services from malicious cyberattacks.  Organisations and nations need to manage and mitigate cyber risk and there is much to be gained from stakeholders sharing experience and information about potential threats, vulnerabilities and solutions.

Writing for Harvard Business Review, Harry D. Raduege, Jr.writes writes about the importance of bringing together leaders from all sectors to learn and share.  In particular, he believes they should focus on:

  • Understanding the problem - what are the key issues and threats facing your organisation?
  • Making one person accountable – a leader in your organisation should be identified as designated to look after all cyber/digital issues
  • Coordinating efforts – not just within your own organisation, but also up and down your supply and value chain
  • Communicating – not just within supply chains but beyond with government agencies; professional bodies and regulators

Meanwhile, the UK’s National Audit Office has expressed concern about a skills shortfall in information security.  Responding to the report, Marisa Viveros writing for Harvard Business Review agrees that holistic and collaborative measures are called for, mirroring the interdisciplinary approaches of academia.

Above all, education about cybersecurity and IT issues is “one of the best investments a company can make”.

More information on the EU’s cybersecurity plan can be found here.

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Good mobile experiences for customers

In a global survey of senior level executives, 74% said that mobile was either “critical” or “important” to the delivery of their organisation’s business objectives.  Only 6% said that mobile was not important.

In its third annual Reducing Customer Struggle report econsultancy (in association with IBM Tealeaf) explores the issues companies have in optimising the mobile experience for their customers.  The report explores the drivers and challenges of ensuring their customers have the best possible mobile experience.

Rapid growth

Organisations are using digital and mobile strategies to sell products and services; to enhance customer engagement and to drive customer satisfaction and self service.  Mobile traffic is growing rapidly:

  • 72% of respondents state that mobile accounts for at least 10% of their company’s traffic (up from 52% in 2012)
  • The number of companies which state that mobile accounts for at least 20% of traffic has more than doubled to 41% (17% in 2012)
  • Overall, respondents say that 19% of their total traffic is coming via mobile devices

Challenges and organisational capability

The results show that organisations are increasingly confident that they understand what exactly makes a great mobile customer experience, and 23% of respondents feel they are offering a “good” mobile customer experience.  However, a number of barriers to delivery are cited:

  • Bad navigation (36%)
  • Screen sizing issues (36%)
  • Form filling (26%)
  • Slow page loading (23%)
  • Lack of information (14%)
  • Bandwidth problems (9%)

The full report (charged for) is available from econsultancy.

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