US consumers’ enthusiasm for social media and digital video is showing no signs of fatigue. According to Gfk, in partnership with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), time spent online rose yet again in 2012, boosted by particularly notable growth in daily usage of social networks and viewing of digital video.
The average daily time spent online reached 3 hours, 7 minutes last year, up from just less than 3 hours in 2011. As more compelling content moves onto digital platforms—including social networks that appeal to every iteration of hobby and personality, and an expanding selection of online video content—old media continue to lose share to the internet. Radio and newspapers each lost minutes of daily time spent with media. And even daily TV time declined by a minute.
Besides the internet, video games were the only other media to gain daily time spent in 2012. And interestingly, magazines managed to hold on to an equal number of average minutes per day as in 2011.
Social networks continue to take the greatest share of web users’ online time. In fact, social further grew its lead over other internet activities last year; US consumers spent an average of 37 minutes daily on social networks in 2012. Email was the next most time-consuming digital activity, at an average of 33 minutes per day.
Online video was the only digital activity to gain as many minutes as social, increasing from 17 minutes in 2011 to 24 minutes in 2012; a proliferation of digital TV and movie content can be largely credited with this growth, along with the wider availability of cord-cutting options.
Certain online activities are also helpfully reinforcing each other.
As consumers spend more time on social networks, they see recommendations for digital videos, including TV shows available online. The IAB found that more than one-quarter of online video viewers 18 and older were informed via social sites about TV shows they could watch on the web. Only word of mouth and ads were more common ways for consumers to hear about shows available online.
In total last year, the IAB found that consumers spent 14 minutes daily watching TV and movies online and 24 minutes watching all digital video, including user-generated content and professional clips.
As users learn about and watch digital video online, they become all the more likely to engage in social TV activities, further reinforcing the positive feedback loop for time spent online.
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