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After a rather slow start, digital media are finally reaching full maturity in Spain, according to a study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Spain (IAB Spain), Toluna and More Than Research Group, which found that the country’s digital culture is advancing in parallel with an improving economic climate.
Frequency of internet use has risen sharply, for example. The percentage of Spain’s web users going online daily, or almost daily, jumped from 83.1% in 2015 to 96.2% in 2016. Social networks saw gains too. While 57.8% of respondents checked in at social sites at least six days a week in 2015, that share rose to 66.0% in 2016.
More dramatically, the daily use of online buying portals doubled, from 8.1% to 16.4%, as ecommerce gained momentum. The share of web users who said they never visited such sites shrank from 23.6% to 2.1%.
The popularity of general portals, such as those of internet service providers, also grew. About 16% used one every day in 2015, but nearly 42% did so in 2016. Over the same period, the share who said they never used such portals dropped from 34.1% to just 4.4%.
IAB Spain reported a modest shift in the gender balance of frequent web users. At the start of 2015, females were less likely to access the internet six or seven days per week. In 2016, though, they were somewhat more likely to do so (96.3%, vs. 96.1% of males). Also, the rate of daily or almost daily access among web users 45 and older was 95.7% in early 2016—almost as high as the 97.4% registered by the 15-to-35 age group.
PCs remain the most used device for the majority of online activities. More than 60% of daily internet users logged on to a PC to visit general or ecommerce portals, search engines, blogs and forums, as well as digital versions of newspapers and other traditional media. Social networking was an exception, though; 51.0% of web users who checked in daily at social sites used a smartphone to do so. Tablets tended to take a back seat to other devices, but between 12% and 22% of web users used a tablet daily, depending on the task.
Crucially, the IAB Spain study had good tidings for digital advertisers: The internet has consolidated its lead over TV as the channel web users consider the best source of information about brands, products and new services. Respondents scored the web eight out of 10 by this measure, compared with 6.9 for television. Thanks to its relatively high level of credibility and the range of practical information available, the internet also scored highest as a source of both general and detailed data about brands, products and services consumers were already aware of.
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