A new study claims to have uncovered the key motivations that underlie how and why consumers interact with online content.

Researchers analysing the data for Verizon Media’s study of 118,000 online interactions, involving 60,000 people in 15 markets, say these motivations apply across all types of digital content, topics and formats, regardless of country or culture.

The report ‘Content Moments’ was compiled based on data collected recently and in 2016, so is able to compare how consumers’ online behaviour has changed since President Trump was elected and the Brexit referendum was held.

Overall, eight universal motivations that drive consumers to engage with content, topics and formats emerged from the data. These were defined as:

• Inspiration: looking for fresh ideas or trying something new

• Delight: enjoying heart-warming moments that provide self-assurance

• Find: seeking an answer or researching a specific topic

• Connect: experiencing content with others

• Observe: observing others during downtime

• Entertainment: looking for entertainment or a mental break

• Information: staying updated on current affairs or gaining new perspectives

• Comfort: seeking support or reassurance

People’s motivation for going online appears to have become more purposeful over the past three years – a greater proportion of those in the 16–24 age group, especially, are going online to research something specific, get practical help or learn something new/get ideas, or simply to stay updated on news than they were in 2016.

Older generations, too, especially those aged 45-plus, are showing more purpose in their online habits, but the change is slower than with younger audiences.

Other key findings include:

• Gen Z (16 to 24-year-olds) are far more likely to connect with social issues than they were three years ago – up 40%.

• Gen Z are also more savvy than ever in spotting sponsored content, with 34% able to identify branded posts.

• Targeting consumers with ads online is far more successful when consumers are online with a mission – going online to research something specific, for example. They are 28% more likely to notice brand content and 26% more likely to share that content, 43% more likely to interact with brands, and 54% more likely to buy from that brand.

Sourced from Verizon Media