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Majority of Latin America Finally Becomes Web-Enabled

New Global Media Intelligence Report finds social networking hugely popular in Latin America, particularly Brazil

Historically, internet adoption in Latin America has trailed more mature markets like North America and Western Europe, but 2013 is the first year a majority of residents of the region will use the web at least monthly.

eMarketer estimates that 299.5 million people in Latin America will be internet users this year—exactly 50.0% of the population. According to figures in eMarketer’s latest Global Media Intelligence Report, produced in collaboration with Starcom MediaVest Group, the number of web users in the region will rise 13.0% this year, with growth rates tapering through 2017, when just shy of two-thirds of the population will be online.

Internet Users and Penetration in Latin America, 2011-2017 (millions, % of population and % change)

Those in Latin America who are online, however, have moved quickly into social media as a main digital activity. This year, more than seven in 10 internet users in the region will use social networks at least monthly. That translates to just 36.2% of the total population, since internet penetration is still relatively low, but represents a sizeable population of nearly 217 million people. eMarketer expects growth in the social networking audience to continue, reaching 324.4 million people by 2017, or 82.3% of internet users and over half the population of the region.

Social Network Users and Penetration in Latin America, 2011-2017 (millions, % of internet users and % of population)

Low digital penetration, though, has put a damper on how much advertisers are willing to spend on digital formats. Just 3.5% of all digital ad expenditures in the world will come from Latin America this year, eMarketer estimates, a share that will rise slightly to 4.8% by 2017.

Key figures on Latin America media usage and spending from the report include:

  • Population: 598 million in 2013, up from 572 million in 2008.
  • Internet users: 299.5 million this year, or 50% of the population, up from 26.7% in 2008.
  • Mobile phone users: 414 million in 2013, up from 317 million in 2009.
  • Smartphone users: 111.6 million this year, up from just 7.5 million in 2009.
  • Social network users: 72.4% of internet users this year, up from 45.5% in 2008.
  • Total ad spending: $36.97 billion in 2013—just 7.2% of media dollars spent globally.
  • Digital ad spending: $4.11 billion, up from $1.22 billion in 2008.
  • Mobile ad spending: $150 million—less than 1% of the $15.82 billion spent globally on mobile ads.

The Global Media Intelligence Report is eMarketer’s largest and most comprehensive snapshot of the state of media usage and spending globally. The report contains more than 700 charts collected from over 150 global research sources, which SMG helped identify and gather for local and core global markets, in addition to benchmarks, analysis and context provided by eMarketer.

eMarketer Corporate Subscribers can access the full report here.

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