Europe sees digital surge

25 February 2011

LONDON: Consumers in Europe are increasingly engaged with social networks, web video and collective buying sites like Groupon, a study has revealed.

Research firm comScore assessed evolving habits in 18 regional markets, from France, Germany and Italy to Russia, Spain, Turkey and the UK.

The average netizen dedicated 24.3 hours to the web a month, with the Netherlands posting 30.5 hours and the UK registering 30.4 hours.

By contrast, Italy lodged 16 hours, falling to approximately 13 hours in Austria, considerably below the norm.

More specifically, 47% of the European online audience fell within the 15-34 year old demographic, and the other 53% came in at a minimum 35 years old.

Currently, 91% of comScore's panel leverage search and navigation tools, and 84% have signed up to a social network, a 10.9 percentage point leap annually.

Services like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn generated 22.8% of page views in 2010, and 40% of sessions included a visit to one such platform.

These Web 2.0 offerings boasted the highest reach in Turkey, on 92.2%, followed by the UK's 87.9%, Finland's 86.5% and Norway's 85.6%.

Elsewhere, Russia recorded a 21.5 point improvement, coming in at 16.6 points regarding Germany, and 16.3 points concerning Austria, although the latter country still yields the lowest penetration, on 74.5%.

In December 2010, women spent 24.3% of their internet time on social networks, growing 5.6 points when measured against 12 months previously.

Men directed 16.8% of their online minutage to similar services, a 3.1 point increase.

Consumers between 15 and 34 years old made up 49.6% of the social network user base, hitting 51.7% for Facebook and 50.6% for Twitter, but only 35.6% covering LinkedIn.

Facebook receives 230m visitors a month from the nations analysed, and accounts for 11.7% of the time individuals spend on the top 100 web platforms.

The US operator leads its category in 15 of the 18 countries monitored, trailing Hyves in Holland, Nasza-klasa in Poland, and each of Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki and's MyWorld in Russia.

More than 90% of comScore's online panel regularly utilise Facebook in Turkey, standing at 81.7% for their British counterparts, and 81.2% in Finland.

In the UK, social networks delivered 29.5bn ad impressions in December, from an overall figure of 71.4bn across the month.

Such amounts stood at 18.3bn and 69.2bn in France, and attained 20.5bn and 71.1bn in Germany, with display ads reaching 97% of the internet population in these three major markets.

"Though advertisers have sometimes resisted advertising on social networks due to low click-rates, it is important to recognise that display ads have brand-building impact independent of driving clicks," the study said.

Coupon sites also gained ground in 2010, as 34.9m people visited these properties, compared with 13.3m in 2009, but the rate of uptake remains around half that of North America.

Groupon has a presence in 100-plus European cities, and attracts over 12m European users per month, comScore said.

TV websites are now accessed by 47.4% of netizens during an equivalent timeframe, watching an average 28 minutes of content a month, typically rising higher among young men.

German broadcaster ProSieben headed the pack, securing 32.5m unique viewers in December, nearly twice the number witnessed by France's Groupe TF1, at 16.5m.

Another 73% of individuals used ecommerce sites, 55% read blogs, and 41% sent and received instant messages, with the last figure down 8.3% year on year, comScore added.

Data sourced from comScore; additional content by Warc staff