If you were to believe even a fraction of the widespread media reports, the magic of the internet has already taken over the world. Blogging, downloading, file sharing, podcasting and the like, the argument goes, have radically changed the relationship between consumers and suppliers. But the facts don’t bear this out. A recent Harris online survey for The Guardian of their panel of 2012 adults showed that fewer than one in three of their online sample had ever read a blog, fewer that one in ten had created a blog and only about one in 12 had ever downloaded a podcast.
A survey by Entertainment Media Research showed that fewer than one in five adults make illegal downloads at least once per month and fewer than one in three download legitimately at least once per month. Again the figures are significant but by no means astounding.
In framing communications strategies we need to guard against being carried away by the new toys. There is a risk that, in the excitement to communicate in these new ways, those who rely on steam radio, flickering cathode ray tubes and little black marks on dead trees – many of whom are extremely affluent – are too easily forgotten.
The growth of time spent on the internet doesn’t necessarily mean that less time is spent on other media. Indeed, the 2006 European Media Consumption Survey by Jupiter Research suggests that in 2003 an average of 15 hours per week were spent in total on TV, print and the internet but this had increased by 2005 to 19 hours. The time spent on the internet has certainly doubled but time spent on print has held steady and TV viewing hours increased between 2003 and 2005. While the new technologies are clearly having an impact it’s still not time to ditch the "old-fashioned" media in favour of the new online world, which still remains uncertain.
Michael Bennett Managing director Pelican Public Relations Saddleworth