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Spain’s Internet Population Comes of Age

A large majority go online more than once a day, and most have used the web for at least 10 years

The internet doesn’t yet touch all parts of society in Spain, but where it does reach, it’s now central to the lives of those who use it, according to polling by the Asociación para la Investigación de Medios de Comunicación (AIMC).

Of the respondents who answered the online survey in Q4 2013, 68.9% said they had used the internet for more than 10 years, and 84.4% said they accessed the web several times each day.

Many had several web-enabled devices. Nearly 86% said they used a mobile phone to go online, and 43.0% used a tablet, though desktops and laptops were also common access devices, each mentioned by about three-quarters of all web users. More than 82% said they had used a mobile device to go online the day before polling.

Mobile devices in particular are driving up internet penetration in Spain. The proportion of residents going online at least once per month will hit 64.0% this year, eMarketer estimates, as the web population reaches 30.6 million.

The rising tide of web usage is naturally displacing engagement with other media, at least to some extent. AIMC found that television was the traditional medium most affected by the internet. Over 62% said they watched TV less because of the time they spent online.

Checking news and video viewing were the top two online activities, mentioned by 86.5% and 80.6% of internet users, respectively. Just under two-thirds of those polled said the internet was now their primary source of news—marginally lower than TV, with 68.9%.

Ecommerce, which had a rather slow start in the country, is gathering pace. At the end of 2013, just 8.3% of web users said they had never bought online. Nearly one-third had purchased products or services in the week before polling. Overall, two-thirds had bought in the previous month. Travel tickets, consumer electronics and hotel or other accommodation bookings were the most frequent online purchases.

In some respects, though, Spain’s internet population remains underdeveloped compared with the US and other Western European countries. A significant proportion of web users still exhibit early-adopter traits. More than two-thirds of AIMC’s sample were male, for example, and 69.0% had no children under age 14 in their households.

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