23 June 2019 Business

The unstoppable march of the internet is slowing say reports

The pace of the move to all things digital is easing as understanding that too much internet may not be good grows and print finds its role alongside digital.

A trio of reports this week has questioned the seemingly unstoppable rise of the internet, even Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report.

This has charted trends and developments across the online world for more than two decades, pointing to discrepancies in how advertisers continue to support print when increasing amounts of time are spent with online media.

In 2010 this meant that print swallowed 27% of advertising dollars, but only 8% of the consumers’ time. By 2018 print’s share of the overall advertising spend had dropped to 7%, still more than the 3% of time that consumers spend with newspapers and magazines.

In contrast advertising on mobile devices was unrecordable in 2010 and now accounts for 33% of ad spend and 38% of the consumers' time with media.

And overall time spend online continues to climb and access to the internet reaches 78% for Europeans. In the UK this is higher still with everyone in this country having some kind of online access.

But this is giving rise to concerns about the mental health impact of this continual access leading to campaigns to reduce online usage and promoting time away from social media in particular. And Meeker points the growing number of apps that measure how people divide up their time.

A survey from Two Sides about reading habits for Europeans puts further meat on this. It found that 48% expressing concern about the impact of electronic devices on health and 45% believe they spend too much time with electronic devices. It says 70% believe in the importance of being able to switch off.

And the same cohort likes print: 69% find print work best for books, 61% prefer reading printed magazines and 54% prefer newspapers in this way. The UK preferences are slightly lower than this, but are still weighted towards ink on paper.

As this is Two Sides, there are statistics to show how consumers also want transactional and functional communications to be available in print. And that consumers continue to be misled over the environmental impact of paper and misinformed about the rate of recycling across Europe. And only one in three are aware of certification schemes like FSC.

The third report comes from the advertising industry under the title Rebranding Advertising. It aims to demonstrate the positive impact that advertising across all channels has. The headline findings declare that advertising adds some sparkle into people’s lives, twice as many as those that find it a distraction, with 10% only finding that they are overwhelmed by offline advertising compared to 15% who claim to be overwhelmed by online advertising.

Television adverts are the most welcome (52%), out of home is the favoured channel for 22% and only 11% say that digital is their favourite style of advertising.

It amounts to a point where there is greater awareness about the digital world, that it is not in itself a panacea for all and that there is real value on the more mature ways of communicating, print included.

By Gareth Ward

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