UK consumers are more mobile and engaged with online than ever

The European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) has revealed the findings of new research that shows digital mobility making its way into the mainstream. Technological innovation coupled with a diverse range of access points for consumers is driving deeper usage online, presenting marketers with a vastly mobile UK audience to target and engage with in 2010 and beyond.

The EIAA’s Mediascope Europe study across 15 European markets highlights how consumers are extending the ways in which they enjoy and engage with the internet and its growing influence on everyday lives. With a majority of UK consumers now aware they can use the internet via their mobile phone (51% vs. 42%), and a growth in wireless broadband and laptop use, the findings demonstrate how the increased diversity of internet-enabled devices is allowing consumers to go online at any time of day and in more locations than ever before.

Overall, 10 million people in the UK browse the mobile internet in a typical week and, with almost an hour a day actively spent going online via their mobile (6.3 hours per week), internet on the move is proving a more frequent pastime than reading newspapers (5.3 hours) or magazines (3.7 hours).

It is the younger generation of early adopters that is largely driving this increase with almost a half (43%) of 16-24 year olds and one quarter (26%) of 25-34 year olds already using the mobile internet, spending 6.5 and 6.4 hours on it respectively each week.

This trend of increased consumer reach and time spent online looks set to continue with improving internet coverage, speeds and services. Marketers would therefore be well advised to recognise how consumers are increasingly engaging with the internet, at more times throughout their day and across a myriad of interactive touch points, and ultimately use this insight to develop effective multi-media marketing strategies.

The internet continues to prove a popular source of entertainment with one in five of UK consumers gaming (20%), one third listening to the radio online (33%). and 39% watching films, TV or video clips online at least once a month. With almost one half (44%) of UK consumers following brands more as a result of the internet, the medium is being used for fun and for function signifying that users have high levels of both emotional and rational connection with the medium.

Amongst those with an internet enabled phone, one third (31%) claim to receive video clips, websites or images on their mobile and two thirds (61%) say that they pass on the content they receive. This suggests that those online via their mobile are both technologically sophisticated and deeply engaged – highlighting a prime opportunity for marketers to build brand awareness and peer recommendations.

Additionally, word of web continues to play a central role in communications with four in five (80%) of UK internet users admitting that they stay in touch with friends and relatives more as a result of the internet. Again, mobile seems to be a big driver with over half (54%) of UK consumers using their internet enabled phones for more than verbal conversation. A further 29% state they communicate using social media via their mobile, with 23% also using mobile instant messenger. Advertisers can therefore benefit from the growing consumer appitite for constant updates and entertainment on the go and use this insight to plan for multi-media campaigns that engage with consumers across a number of platforms.

Media convergence is on the rise with the research revealing that almost one half (46%) of UK consumers use the internet whilst watching TV. With recent technological advancements such as the iPad, and given over half (59%) of UK households already own at least one laptop and over 25 million UK consumers (72%) now use wireless broadband, increased mobility and convergence seems inevitable. Marketers should no longer look at media in isolation but rather embrace the media-meshing trend and the wealth and diversity of advertising opportunity it affords.

Alison Fennah, executive director of the EIAA, said: “Better devices and connectivity as well as enhanced consumer motivation all started coming together in 2009 to improve and extend the overall online experience. 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.

“Indeed, new age patterns of media consumption indicate that marketers should be looking to develop multi-platform strategies that reach and connect with consumers more effectively and increase ROI. This is opposed to making media decisions based on an ‘either or’ basis if they want to reach all demographics.”

Michael Kleindl, chairman of the EIAA and managing partner of Valkiria Network, said: “Technological innovation coupled with consumers’ continued desire to merge their media presents a huge opportunity for advertisers as we move into 2010. It is important for brands to adapt to this shift in internet mobility and use this insight to shape their marketing strategies.”