Today (4 August), Ofcom released its Communication Markets Report, with it suggesting people are looking to ‘switch off’ through a digital detox. According to the survey, which questioned 2,025 adults and 500 teenagers, 34% of internet users are now taking regular periods away from the web for up to a month.
Of those surveyed, 59% consider themselves to be “addicted” to their phone, with a third saying they found it difficult to disconnect.
However, marketers should not despair. In spite of consumer demand to “turn off”, online usage is on the up, in particular, in the form of messenger apps including Snapchat and Whatsapp.
Ofcom found that 16-24 years olds are more likely to embrace newer on-demand and online services, and that instant messaging is “more important to this age group than any other means of communication”. The number of 16-24 years olds using instant messenger has increased 15% from 2014 to 53% in 2015, as 15% of 16-24 year olds revealed they are most likely to keep in touch with friends through social media, compared to just 10% of adults.
The proportion of people using Whatsapp has increased from 28% to 43%, as 82% of internet users agreed that new communications methods have made life easier, in particular to get in touch with family and friends.
The report also highlights data from comScore on the number of unique messenger platforms. Facebook messenger came out on top, attracting the largest number of mobile users in April 2016, with a unique audience of 22.5 million. Whatsapp, meanwhile, came in second with 16.7 million unique visitors and a reach of 47% across the UK mobile population.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Belinda Beeftink, of the Insititute of Practitioners in Advertising, said brands that boost their messenger credentials must also be cautious.
“Brands will have to be very careful with how they communicate. There is a very fine balance between ads being served to people that want them, and ads being served when they they are not wanted or asked for”.
Befftink says the way millennials are looking at social media is changing. She said that the increase in platforms such as Snapchat, Whatsapp and Facebook messenger comes as consumers try to create their own “social media etiquette”, with privacy being a major factor.
Investing in messenger platforms could be wise given the resource Facebook is pumping into the space.
Earlier this week, a tweet from Uber developer experience lead Chris Messina suggested that Facebook Messenger has built-in support in its source code that enables features like paid subscriptions from publishers via bots, voicemail playback, and game sharing.