Each year consumers spend more time and more money online. The web is becoming completely integrated into our lives. Social connections are being made, conversations with companies taking place, relationships nurtured, whole wardrobes collected, news consumed and holidays are planned using the web. This adoption and widespread use of the web in all parts of our lives results in more fragmented online consumer behavior. This makes it increasingly harder to provide an objective overview of the online behavior of consumers.
To give detailed insights into the online behavior of consumers in a mature digital market we tracked the digital lives of more than 10.000 Dutch Consumers using our proprietary audience measurement technology. And here’s a short overview of some of the findings.
The Big Three dominate
Consumers spent approx. 60% of their time on The Big Three, which consist out of Social Networks, E-mail, and Search. This is followed by the trio of Shopping, News and Games. When looking at the total amount of visits per category we see a rearrangement of the Big Three and a more evenly distributed playing field. Search is most frequently visited (18,2%), followed by E-mail (11,8) and Social Networks (11,4%). Looking at the consumers behavior this is very logical. People tend to search quite frequently, but quickly. Social networks, however, have a different footprint. The volume is a bit lower, but consumers spend high amounts of time on them.
More time spend on Facebook than any other social network
What will come to know surprise to all of us is that Facebook is the nr. 1 social network in The Netherlands. It should be noted however that this is only since halfway 2011. Before that a popular local social network, Hyves, was in control. When looking at engagement (time on site, avg. pageviews per visit) it clearly shows that Facebook is in the lead. A quite interesting finding is that people, even though it just recently launched, spend more time per visit on Google+ compared to Twitter. The bite-sized content of Twitter definitely contributes to this. Another fascinating insight is that women are more engaged with social networks compared to men. More women spend more time on site and view more pages per visit compared to their male counterparts.
Google absent in Social, but dominates Search
After the initial introduction of Google+ there was a huge spike in traffic. However after the big rise, there was a great drop off and traffic reached a mere 2% penetration in our panel. Also when looking at the characteristics of the visits it clearly doesn’t the levels of engagement other platforms are providing.
What Google lack in social, it makes up in Search. Google absolutely dominates the search market in The Netherlands. It accounts for 95,8% of the search volume. Other competitors are near non-existing. Bing follows as a very distant with share of 2,4%, Ask.com 1,6% and Yahoo comes in forth with a meager 0,2%. The adoption of the additional services of Google (e.g. Maps, Mail) shows a classic long tail. While Maps and Mail are often visited during the week, the other services (Docs, News, Calendar, Video, Plus) lack any real traction.
Implications for Research in the Mobile World
This report tells about 90% of the story. And this will only steadily decrease in the near future. Why? Of course because the continuous rise of mobile usage by consumers. As outlined in the introduction this perfectly fits into the information snacking behavior consumers nowadays display. Moving back and forth between devices during different stages of the buying process.
The most important implication for research would be that we must move to an integrated multi-channel research approach. Not focussing on separate devices but on integrated multi-channel customer behavior. The consumer moves freely, quickly and seamlessly on multiple devices through cyberspace. They’re no longer bounded to specific platform for his or her journey. We shouldn’t be either in research.
About the study
These insights are part of a more extensive report (available for free in PDF format) called ‘State of the Web’. This elaborates on the behavior of consumers in specific categories such as Social Networks, Search, and Shopping. With our unique passive audience measurement technology we tracked the digital lives in 2011 of a representative panel which consists of approx. 10.000 Dutch consumers. We collected tens of gigabytes of data, which was used as input for the report.