Social media has become the dominant force in the way we consume media, with Generation Y shaping the future of our consumption habits, according to the fifth edition of Deloitte’s annual Media Consumer Survey.
The survey found that social media is a media super power for all age groups in Australia, with 84 per cent of us engaged with social media networks, two thirds of us interacting with social media every day and 27 per cent of us checking our accounts four or more times a day.
Niki Alcorn, Deloitte’s consulting digital strategy leader and co-author of the report, said social media has not only become an entertainment activity in its own right, but it is now our number one digital destination.
“We spend 21 per cent of our digital entertainment time on social media – creating, reading or commenting on content, uploading photos and videos or writing reviews – with women spending slightly more time (25 per cent of their digital entertainment time) in social domains than men (17 per cent),” she said.
The survey showed that the fastest rise in social media usage of over the last five years has been amongst Baby Boomers (aged 50 to 68 years) and ‘Matures’ (69-plus years), but as they catch up, the younger generations are moving on.
“Ninety-two per cent of survey respondents are on Facebook. But as all age groups converge at this destination, Millennials are heading to newer, more mobile and image-focused networks such as Instagram and Snapchat,” Alcorn said.
“Snapchat is almost exclusively being used by Millennials, with usage dropping away significantly over the age of about 30. Disposability of content also plays a role in this shift, the younger generations are enjoying real-time shared moments with the benefit of more private content that doesn’t live on in perpetuity online.”
The proportion of survey respondents using social media as their primary source of news has doubled to almost one in five (up from 9 per cent in 2015), now outstripping the frequency with which we use print and online newspapers. Among Millennials, social media is now the primary source of news.
Ms Alcorn noted that while word of mouth remains the primary influencer on purchase decisions for three quarters of respondents, we have reached the tipping point for the digital equivalent.
“More respondents (58 per cent) have ranked ‘reviews from people within their social media circles’ in their top three influencers for buying decisions than television adverts (55 per cent of respondents),” she said.
“This is the first time this has happened, and notably the influence of advertising on purchase decisions has fallen for the first time in four years. Adverts on social media are also influencing us more than ever, with a 17 per cent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) increase over the last four years in people’s perceptions of them having a high or medium influence on their purchasing decisions.”
Using the internet (up to 60 per cent in 2016 from 47 per cent in 2012) is on par with watching TV as our number one entertainment activity, according to the survey, but despite the plethora of devices, platforms and options available to us, live TV is still our preferred viewing method, accounting for 42 per cent of total viewing time.
“TV may still be number one, but streaming is hot on the heels of live programming, accounting for almost a quarter of our viewing time, up from 18 per cent last year,” Deloitte financial advisory leader Claire Harding added.
The Rise Of The Video Subscriber
Meanwhile, the number of people paying for subscription video on demand (SVOD) has almost doubled since 2015 to 22 per cent.
“It’s still early days for SVOD in Australia, with respondents experimenting with what these subscriptions have to offer,” Harding said.
“In order to access their desired content, 18 per cent of SVOD subscribers have more than one service, with two-thirds of multi-subscribers expecting to maintain two or more services in the future.”
Millennials are leading the uptake of SVOD services, with 35 per cent subscribing to a streaming service compared to 14 per cent of other respondents. Across the board, a higher proportion of bingeing occurs amongst those with SVOD subscriptions, with 74 per cent of Millennials bingeing compared to 50 per cent of other respondents.
However, the survey found that the majority of us remain reluctant to pay for online news subscriptions – just 9 per cent are willing to do so, which has been stable over the last three years.
Harding noted that while more of us are choosing to pay for the content we want, we’re still multi-tasking more than ever.
“Eighty-eight per cent of us are multi-tasking whilst watching TV, up from 60 per cent in 2012,” she said.
“Having said that, either because we’re more immersed in the content or because the smartphone does so much for us, we are using fewer devices when multi-tasking – down from two to one this year.
“Our increased comfort in paying for video content, as illustrated by the uptake of SVOD subscriptions, may also be influencing our multi-tasking behaviours – 70 per cent of respondents believe they pay closer attention to content that they have paid to watch.”
Demand For The Ad-Free Experience
Harding noted that people not only want the freedom to choose the content they watch, but are willing to pay for it to enjoy an advert-free viewing experience.
“Almost half of us (48 per cent) would pay to watch movies in exchange for not being exposed to adverts, whilst 43 per cent would pay for TV shows to avoid them,” she said.
“When it comes to streaming services, respondents’ willingness to view adverts is diminishing (50 per cent in 2016, down from 58 per cent in 2015), even if it significantly reduced the cost of the subscription.
“And in the digital domain, ad blockers are giving consumers the power to shut out ‘interruptions,’ with 28 per cent of respondents now using ad blocking software.”
Advertising remains a key influencer of our buying decisions, according to Harding, although the channels of influence are changing.
“For the first time in four years, TV advertisements have fallen in the rankings, with 55 per cent of respondents this year compared to 63 per cent last year, perceiving them to have a high or medium influence on buying decisions.
“And in the growing digital advertising market, social platforms for the first time are seen as being as influential as search, with 40 per cent of respondents identifying these among digital advertising channels as having the greatest influence on their purchasing decisions.”
Virtual Reality Set To Take Off
While only 4 per cent of survey respondents said they own a virtual reality (VR) headset, the majority of respondents (58 per cent) believe VR will enhance media experiences and 10 per cent intend to buy a headset in the coming year.
“We’re seeing more and more applications of VR hit the market, both in the commercial space and in-home entertainment, and the recent phenomenom of augmented reality game Pokémon Go illustrates the desire to adopt these new technologies,” Harding said.
“Stated purchase intent for VR is around the same level as it was for fitbands and smartwatches when they first became available, which are now at penetration rates of 21 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.”