Internet is the top medium for consumers

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Canadians spend 16.6 hours a week online, compared to 12 hours watching TV

Gillian Shaw

The Internet is king in Canada, where consumers say it is twice as important to them as any other medium.

That’s among the findings of the Fleishman-Hillard 2010 Digital Influence Index, released today, which measures Internet influence in seven countries.

According to the study, in Canada we spend an average of 37 hours a week consuming media, second only to people in the United Kingdom, and about a third of that — 34 per cent, or 16.6 hours of that time — is spent on the Internet.

Television lags only slightly behind at 33 per cent, or just over 12 hours a week, followed at a distant third by radio, at 14 per cent, with newspapers rating five per cent of our time and magazines four per cent.

Fieldwork for the study was conducted by Harris Interactive, through a 15-minute online survey of 4,243 Internet users in China, the United States, Japan, Canada, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Across all countries surveyed, the Internet has about twice the influence of television and 10 times the influence of print media, the report says.

It’s not that consumers aren’t getting news, but they now prefer it to be delivered online. In Canada, 42 per cent don’t read printed magazines and 28 per cent don’t read the print version of newspapers. In the U.S. that figure is even higher, with 40 per cent of respondents not reading newspapers in their print form.

Advertising dollars aren’t keeping pace with consumers’ preferences, as Internet advertising spending doesn’t reflect the online medium’s influence.

When it comes to social media, all that sharing may be just too much for people.

More than half of the respondents surveyed think people share too much information about their lives, and only a third think user-generated content is interesting.

Canada lags behind other countries when it comes to mobile Internet. Only 16 per cent of Canadians send and receive e-mail through a mobile device, compared to an average of 34 per cent among all countries surveyed. And only 18 per cent of Canadians access the Internet through their mobile devices, compared to 36 per cent on average.

Canadians come second only to the Chinese in social networking, with 63 per cent participating in a social network. Facebook is the Canadian network of choice; almost 70 per cent of Canadians have a Facebook account, compared to an average of 47 per cent among all seven countries surveyed.

And it’s apparent we are among the most Twitter-savvy, even if we’re not all tweeting. Some 85 per cent of Canadians have heard of microblogging, and 18 per cent have a microblogging account, although about a quarter of those microblog less than once a month.

In a caution for tweeting companies, Canadians are skeptical of their efforts. According to the survey, 35 per cent of Canadians — the highest of any country surveyed — think companies that monitor consumer microblogs are “doing it for show and would take no real action.”

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