The latest research from the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) focuses on the digital lives of UK consumers and reinforces views that they are incredibly active in their consumption patterns, accessing content in different ways and presenting publishers with potentially different business models.
The study, My Digital Life: A review of what we know about digital consumers, consolidates and interprets the wealth of information currently available in the public domain, was commissioned by AOP’s Futures group and identified four emerging mega-trends in the way we consume content: Participation, On-demand, Mobility and Personalisation.
The findings convey the importance of well defined brands online and serve as a reminder that publishers must continue to ensure they deliver content according to consumer demand.
The first major trend identified in the research was Participation, which encapsulates the way in which the internet has grown to become a two-way medium. This activity is mainly led by young users with 73 per cent of 18-24 year olds writing blogs or posting comments online on a weekly basis. Other current forms of participation include social networking and gaming sites, and those that are purely user-generated.
This active involvement has driven up the number of content distribution channels, further fuelling the trend towards On-demand content, another of the mega-trends. A good example of this, says the review, is the growing momentum of podcasting. Podcast Alley hosts more than 25,000 podcasts and 12 per cent of the US online audience downloaded a podcast in November 2006.
While consumers want to access specific content whenever they want, they also want to be able to take that content with them wherever they go. Mobility is a very strong trend throughout digital consumption which is unsurprising considering around 80 per cent of UK individuals own a mobile phone. And these portable devices offer increasing functionality and features to accommodate and encourage the way we choose to access our media.
Personalisation is the final mega-trend explored in the digital review and it focuses particularly on the consumer’s ability to self-schedule and the increasing opportunities to customise published content. This trend is evident in the wealth of personalised online spaces on community sites and also includes the availability and use of RSS feeds and alike.
The research was conducted on behalf of AOP by an independent consultant in December 2006 and took the form of a review of information and resources on UK digital consumers. The AOP Futures group is formed of representatives from AOP member companies. The group steers projects which aim to promote debate on the publishing future.
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