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Online is now the media of choice as emerging markets dominate Internet presence - TNS research

By | November 3rd 2010

By James Ratemo

Kenyans are now spending on average 6.5 hours per week on social networking sites including twitter and facebook, a research has shown.

The latest and largest research shows over half of those in Kenya (55 per cent) have written their own blog or forum entry, compared to four out of five online users in China (88 per cent) and only 32 per cent in the US.

This is according to the largest global research project into people's online activities and behaviour - Digital Life - launched in London by TNS, the world's biggest custom research company.

Amazingly, online consumers in rapid growth markets have overtaken mature markets in terms of engaging with digital activities.

Kenya is emerging among the rapid growth markets along with Egypt and China.

When looking at behaviour online, at 51 per cent, Kenya’s online market is growing rapidly just rating behind Egypt (56 per cent) and China (54 per cent).

This means mature markets such as Japan (20 per cent), Denmark (25 per cent) or Finland (26 per cent) are now lagging behind in terms of online behaviour.

Activities such as blogging and social networking are gaining momentum at huge speed in rapid growth markets.

According to the study, the change in trend and growth in social networking has been fuelled by the transition from PC to mobile.

Mobile users, the study reveals, spend on average 3.1 hours per week on social networking sites compared to just 2.2 hours on email.

The drive to mobile is driven by the increased need for instant gratification and the ability of social networks to offer multiple messaging formats, including the instant message or update function.

When looking at how the digital landscape will change in the future, research shows that consumers expect their use of social networking on mobiles to increase more than use through PC.

In Kenya, for example, 78 per cent of online consumers expect their use of social networking on a PC to increase in the next 12 months compared to 84 per cent who will be looking to their mobile to increase usage.

In Uganda the figures are 66 per cent and 74 per cent respectively and in Tanzania 71 per cent and 69 per cent.

The heaviest users of social networking though are

in Malaysia (9 hours per week), Russia (8.1 hours per week) and Turkey (7.7 hours per week).

Ugandans (1.5 hours per week) and Tanzanians (1.6 hours per week) are currently amongst the lowest users.

The study further reveals that online consumers are, on average, spending more time on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn than on email, despite the former only becoming mainstream in many markets over the last few years.

Covering 88 per cent of the world's online

population through 50,000 interviews with consumers in 46 countries, the study reveals that globally, people who have online access have digital sources as their number one media channel.

"We believe that our research data, which we intend to do on an annual basis, will become the new benchmark for information on online consumer behaviour," says Melissa Baker, TNS Research International CEO East Africa, adding that "Providing some of the data to the world was an important first step for us and obviously we have a wealth of further information behind those basic statistics."

That 61 per cent of online users use the Internet daily against 54 per cent for TV, 36 per cent for Radio and 32 per cent for Newspapers.

The Internet has also become the default

option for photo sharing among online users in rapid growth markets, particularly in Asia and Sub Saharan Africa.

The number of online consumers who have ever uploaded photos to social networks or photo sharing sites is 92 per cent in Thailand, 88 per cent in Malaysia, 87 per cent in Vietnam, 74 per cent in Kenya and 72 per cent in Tanzania whilst developed markets are more conservative.

Kenya will be launching a similar local report sponsored by the Kenya ICT Board on November 25, 2010.

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