RESEARCH: Online trends – the fragmented net

The way consumers are experiencing and using the Internet is changing rapidly. Trendstream publishes its 3rd edition of the GlobalWebIndex, the world’s biggest research into online consumer behavior. The research shows one global trend, driven by five key drivers. This global trend, identified as ‘the fragmented net‘, shows that the worldwide web is changing into a universe of local internet sites that each have their own specific usage profile.

So far, so good, but what is driving this change in the way consumers experience and use the internet? According to Trendstream, there are 5 key elements that propel this evolution.

1. ‘The world after the PC’

As Steve Jobs recently announced, we’re entering a post-PC era. We no longer exclusively access the internet via desk- or laptop, but via a variety of screens such as television and tablets. This creates new experiences for an increasing number of platforms. Also interesting to note, is that the number of apps (applications) has increased by 19% since the beginning of this year.

2. ‘My preferred screen’

Of the current 79% desk- or laptop users, only 42% esteem that they will still be using this device next year. 19% reckon they will shift to tablets, 18% to other mobile devices. The graph below (courtesy Trendstream) shows exactly how the choice for a favorite device will shift over the next year.

3. ‘Rise of the live web’

Consumers no longer just undergo the information, they have become full-blown participants as is shown by an increase of 62% in microblogs and 40% in social media since July 2009. Important to realize here, is that the main way people communicate via these channels is by linking to other existing, relevant or entertaining content. Which also explains the further demise of UGC on existing websites.

4.’ Pervasive social media’

The report focuses on Facebook and its continuing growth. The numbers compared to the situation in July 2009 are quite impressive: 26% rise in the 16-24 years-bracket, 46% percent increase for the 25-34 years old, 35% for the 35-44 bracket and no less than 52% (a number to keep in mind when pondering whether or not to go social!) for people between 45 to 54.

5. ‘Lean-back experience’

As mentioned, consumers prefer to distribute content rather than creating it themselves. The increasing demand for video, news and other shareable content underlines the importance of relevant and entertaining content provided by both brands and publishers and can therefore not be underestimated.

My conclusion after seeing these results? More than ever: stop making online content that is about YOU and start thinking how you can provide information that is relevant to the consumer. And, especially, take into consideration how the reader would like to get this information presented. After all, the customer-centric age has arrived and you should not lag behind if you want to survive…