CAPE TOWN: The number of adult internet users in South Africa now stands at 14 million, with uptake of mobile web a significant factor behind rapid recent growth, new research has suggested.

The Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) has developed a new, more precise way of measuring the online population, and has found that 39% of the nation's adults are now connected to the internet, reports The Media Online.

The figure was produced from the All Media Products Survey (AMPS) and validated by Effective Measure (EM), which is the DMMA's official measurement provider for digital audience data.

“This is the first time we have been able to correlate Effective Measure with AMPS, and the first time we have been able to reduce ‘unique browsers' to actual people,” said Jarred Cinman, chairman of the DMMA's steering committee.

Cinman also noted that quantifying the numbers accessing the internet via their mobile phones or through their PCs was at this stage difficult, but that he was convinced that mobile use was driving significant growth in internet use.

The DMMA believes the figures will impact significantly on the strategies of advertisers regarding their digital ad spending. The consequent growth in such spending is likely to be good news for DMMA's publisher members, Cinman suggested.

However, he cautioned that the data, while positive, did not provide information on the profiles of the users. He also noted that the figures did not indicate growth in the online population as much as a previous underestimate of that population.

He added that without previous benchmarks to fall back on, deep analysis of users was not yet possible.

“Recent figures suggesting that [advertising] spend online is 3% of the total are wildly off mark – we believe this is far closer to 10-15%,” said Cinman.

He noted that advertisers should radically revise their online spending given the newly-revealed size of the market.

Data sourced from Media Online; additional content by Warc staff