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MS Advertising, MEC and Mindshare decode web behavior

“72 per cent of the time spent online by Indians is planned, not spontaneous,” says the joint study.

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | June 3, 2011

Microsoft Advertising, MEC and Mindshare have released a study entitled 'Living with the Internet - What is Driving Web Behavior', designed to better understand the nature of time spent online across the world. Intended to gain better insights on consumer's web behavior and aid marketers and brands to tap into these insights, the study was undertaken across 11 countries - Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom and the US and focused on 7,000 participants aged between 16 and 54 years old.

The study finds that in India, spontaneous activity on the internet has halved in the last two years as consumers, conscious of the addictive nature of the web, try to stay focused and make better use of time spent online. This trend is consistent globally, as worldwide more than 79 per cent of respondents said that they had planned their activity on the internet in advance so that they could stay more focused and do more in less time. Across Asia, as well, this figure is fairly consistent, with Japan topping the list in the proportion of planned visits at 89 per cent; China at 76 per cent and India at 72 per cent.

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On the emerging patterns in internet usage, the study finds that majority of time spent online is habitual, with only 16% prompted by an event, conversation or offline media. It revealed that almost all online sessions start with more personal or intimate destinations such as social networks, emails and blogs; then move to the more public forums such as news, entertainment and search; finally going back to the personal destinations.

More than half of the people on the internet, irrespective of what their motivation for being there are, are multi-tasking. In an increasingly connected and multi-tasking world this means, that brands need to create strong somatic markers for themselves. Building on this, Shubha George, Chief Operating Officer, MEC South Asia said, "MEC introduced the concept of Paid, Owned and Earned media last year and the interplay amongst the 3 types of media is most significant in the digital world. The digital world today is an amalgamation of multiple digital touch points, often simultaneously. For holistic campaigns, brands need to activate all aspects of digital media to engage the multitasking consumer."

The study also captures insights on usage patterns across devices and finds that 34 per cent of smartphone usage is primarily for seeking information and content sharing, while 33 per cent of notebook usage isfor transactions and entertainment.

The findings of the Living with the Internet study provide a number of compelling insights about how consumers are behaving on the internet and what this means for advertisers. With such dynamics in place, marketers need to take a smarter approach to online media by making a brand's presence fit more naturally into a user's experience.

But the insights gleaned from this survey suggest that by understanding how, when and where the potential consumers spend their time, advertisers can then better engage with their target audience. It is no doubt that advertisers definitely have to work harder to get people's attention with better targeting and creative strategies.

Commenting on the study from the launch in Mumbai, Neville Taraporewalla, Director - Microsoft Advertising, Microsoft India said, "The rapidly changing dynamics of internet usage in India, offer a fresh set of opportunities and challenges for advertisers. 'Living with the internet' clearly underscores that as the internet grows to a scale and size, consumers are adopting a time-efficient, planned and deliberate approach towards internet usage, which in turn implies that marketers will have to work harder to reach the consumer on the go. With our proven expertise, we at Microsoft Advertising are geared to not just help advertisers understand audiences and their evolving usage patterns better, but also deliver engaging and creative platforms and content to help create long lasting engagements with these audiences."

Internet as an entertainment hub is on the rise Internet is emerging as an 'entertainment hub' to watch and to download video clips, TV shows online (both short and long form), to listen to music online and to download music and online gaming. It is the 16-24 year olds who make most use of the internet as an entertainment source making it a significant chunk of their daily activity.

Powering Engagement - Matching moods with modes The study essentially identifies certain moods associated with the different motivations for using the internet, pointing to agencies and brands, the kind of content or communication that might engage better in that particular mode of access. For instance, in an open state of mind, they are more attuned to communication and seeking information, listening to music while in a good mood, more prone to a transactional mode in a serious frame of mind and so on.

Smartphones and notebook both have a different role to play in online usage Besides understanding usage behavior, the study also sought to identify which portable devices consumers are using, allowing brands to modify their content by device. It also unearths evidence to demonstrate the growing importance of mobile usage in communication and creation as smartphone ownership continues to explode. The study shows that in India, the use of smartphones at 34 per cent surpass notebooks which stands at 33 per cent as the main method for accessing information. Except for information seeking and content creation, however, notebooks remain the main device used for transactions and entertainment.

India in comparison to the rest of the world 'Living with the Internet' also reveals a contrast in receptiveness to online advertising between the more mature markets - UK, France, Spain, Canada, Japan and US - and emerging markets like Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia and India. For advertisers, the findings show it is essential to interact with a target audience in a way that compliments a consumer's online activity, rather than negatively interrupting it. In addition, a blend of paid, owned and earned media feature in the list of the most popular brand communication formats, demonstrating that each has a place in the digital media mix. "This is our honest and humble attempt to bring some method to the madness. Internet is now one of the basic utilities like electricity, gas etc., and it needs to be looked on the back of popular culture we are getting into," said R Gowthaman, Leader, Mindshare, South Asia.

In short, the study has been successful in throwing light on some important consumer trends and its implications on how marketers will shape their communication campaigns in a relevant and engaging manner. The key is to adopt a smarter approach to online media by making a brand's presence fit more naturally into a user's experience.

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