LONDON: Consumers in the UK are spending more time than ever using the internet and social networks, often combining this activity with watching television.

The IPA, the industry body, partnered with Ipsos MediaCT to produce its third TouchPoints Hub Survey, which was based on interviews and insights from e-diaries, drawn from a sample of 6,050 people.

Each day, the average participant watched television for 3.7 hours, listened to the radio for 2.1 hours and surfed the web for 1.8 hours.

The amount of time generally dedicated to the internet has grown by 38% in the last two years, a development that is particularly pronounced among men, younger people, and higher-income groups.

Although TV, radio and print have witnessed modest decreases regarding how long they hold consumers attention, this has been "more than compensated for" by the expansion of their parallel services on the web.

In demonstration of this, approximately a fifth of adults stream television content via the web per week, typically devoting 15 minutes a day to this pastime.

Despite this, sending and receiving email is still the premier reason for going online, with a 20% share, but social networking is gaining ground, on 11%.

In all, 37% of individuals featured in the IPA/Ipsos report accessed these sites for around an hour a week, an increase of 113%.

Some 35% signed in to Facebook at least once a week, rising to 79% for 15-24 year olds, while just 4% of respondents as a whole said the same concerning Twitter.

The popularity of these portals peaks between 6.30pm and 10pm, with a third of contributors belonging to a social networking site claiming to be engaged in this activity while also having the TV on.

A 57% majority of those polled regularly used a mobile phone, narrowly behind reading newspapers on 59%, with these channels commanding a roughly equal degree of engagement in terms of duration.

Face-to-face conversation remained the dominant form of interaction, accounting for 75% of all communications, although this marked a contraction from 77% in 2008 and 81% in 2006.

Mobile and landline phones achieved a joint share of 11%, with sending text and picture messages on 4%. 

The study also revealed that TV reached 98% of the potential audience each week, with out-of-home on 99%, radio on 89% and online on 75%.

However, the fragmented nature of the market was also as evidenced by the fact that 75% of adults employ at least two types of media in any given half-hourly period.

The prime time for people watching television while logged on to the web was in the evening, normally falling between 7pm and 9pm.

One key emerging channel is the wireless internet, used by 16% of all participants and 34% of 15–24 year olds every week.

Looking to purchase habits, 54% of the panel had tightened their belts significantly compared with the last round of TouchPoints research.

The length of shopping trips has contracted from 0.73 hours a day in 2008 to 0.63 hours in 2010, with 59% of customers seeking out the cheapest goods and 62% switching stores as they attempt to find special offers.

Just 39% of the IPA/Ipsos cohort said price was the main motivation when choosing a product, although this constituted an uptick from 33% in 2008.

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff