LONDON: Online is accounting for an increasing amount of both media usage and the value consumers place on this activity in Europe, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

The report, Follow the Surplus: European Consumers Embrace Online Media, was based on consumer research conducted between November 2012 and January 2013 in nine European countries.

It found that consumers valued online and offline media nearly equally. Overall, "40% to 60% of the perceived value that consumers get from media – net of associated costs – is derived from online media" the report stated.

The average consumer surplus, defined as the value consumers placed on a media-related activity or product over and above what they actually paid for it, stood at about €2,100.

In six of the countries considered, the online surplus accounted for over half of the total surplus, with the greatest proportions, of 63% and 60%, being seen in the Czech Republic and Italy, respectively.

These were followed by Ireland and Poland, both on 57%, then the Netherlands on 55% and Sweden on 53%.

Consumers in the last two of these nations received the highest surplus value from online media at €1,557 and €1,238 per connected consumer each year in turn.

The report noted that this was to be expected, as both nations had advanced online infrastructures and internet economies, along with a high availability of online content.

In the UK, France, and Germany, online media accounted for under half the total surplus, registering shares of 47%, 42% and 39% respectively.

The report noted that in most countries, the surplus was equivalent to between 4% and 8% of disposable income, and that consumers across all demographics were benefiting as the web permitted "content purveyors to segment their offerings to a nearly infinite degree."

While the separate genders placed an equally high value on online media – €1,090 for men and €1,060 for women – they derived this value in different ways and from different sources.

Men favoured games, radio, and music, while women looked to user-generated content and social networks.

BCG expected the trends identified in the report to accelerate with the increasing penetration of smartphones and tablets, the rollout of high-speed data networks, and the expanding availability of high-quality content.

Data sourced from Boston Consulting Group; additional content by Warc staff