LONDON: British internet users spend an average of 2 hours and 51 minutes actively going online every day, which equates to about 1 in every 6 of all waking minutes, according to new analysis specifically carried out to help advertisers.

In a bid to provide a definite measurement of the amount of time Britons spend online, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) joined forces with UK Online Measurement Company (UKOM), the official cross-industry standards body.

Based on the behaviour of 73,000 internet users as well as analysis of thousands of websites and apps, the research broke down the amount of time people spend on different devices and what activities are the most popular across those devices.

Importantly, the research measured only the time that people actively use the internet rather than when users engage in other activities with a web page still open.

Out of the 2 hours 51 minutes Britons spend online each day, 1 hour 16 minutes is spent on PCs/laptops (45%), followed by 1 hour 9 minutes on smartphones (40%) and 26 minutes on tablets (15%), the report said.

The statistics for users of PCs and laptops closely match recent findings from Ofcom, the UK media regulator, although Ofcom reported significantly more time that smartphone users spend online each day (1 hour 54 minutes).

In terms of what activities engage people when they go online, an important finding uncovered by IAB/UKOM is that social media has overtaken entertainment.

If a month's typical internet usage is condensed into an hour, the report calculated that social media accounts for 10 minutes 1 second of internet time, followed by entertainment (7 minutes 28 seconds), games (3 minutes 35 seconds) and instant messaging (2 minutes 33 seconds).

Of particular note to advertisers, the report confirmed that internet users prefer different devices for different activities.

Time spent on mobile devices to access social media, for example, is more than double (21.4%) that of desktops (9.8%) and it's a similar story for games (8.6% versus 2.3%), instant messaging (6.7% vs 0.8%) and news (4.8% vs 2.2%).

By contrast, entertainment accounts for over double the share of desktop internet time (18.5%) than mobile/tablet (8.3%) and email has over six times the share (5% vs 0.8%).

"When trying to reach consumers, advertisers can't afford to think of time online as a homogenous entity," said Scott Fleming, general manager at UKOM.

"The most effective digital ad strategies recognise and take into account how behaviour and mind-set differ dramatically by device," he added.

Data sourced from IAB, UKOM; additional content by Warc staff