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Digital media consumption continues to rise as lockdowns ease

Toluna and Harris Interactive COVID-19 Barometer shows spikes in online news consumption while print news trending down.

Over the development of the crisis, there have been shifts in the usage of various media channels – which provide advertisers and media buyers with some early indication of their priorities for media spend.

Social media remains prominent and continues to see strong growth, while online news sites have still been the priority for keeping up-to-date on the development of the pandemic globally.

Broadcast TV remains the key channel for video content. Gains in usage of online streaming services have sped up as indications of the “new normal” media usage:

  • 89% of Australians are watching broadcast TV, with 30% watching more TV over the past two weeks
  • 65% are watching paid subscription videos or video demand services, with 24% increasing the amount they watch over the past two weeks
  • 68% are watching catch up TV, with a 24% increase in catch up TV use over the past two weeks
  • Digital consumption is not only up for existing users, but 6% have started watching subscription TV and 7% using catch up for the first time over the past two weeks
  • Broadcast radio also continues to be strong, with 73% tuning in to radio, and 16% stating they’ve listened to more radio over the past two weeks

Return to reading. There has been a significant spike in online news consumption, with many also reading traditional books, e-books and audio books.

  • 80% are reading their news online, with 29% stating their online news consumption has increased over the past two weeks
  • 60% are reading printed newspapers, with 12% stating they’ve read less print news over the past two weeks
  • 71% are reading printed books, with 18% increasing the amount they read over the past two weeks
  • 45% are reading eBooks, with 12% reading more e-books over the past couple of weeks
  • 33% are listening to audiobooks, with 8% listening to audio books more frequently over the past two weeks
  • Many have started reading in new ways, with 5% reading e-books and listening to audio books, with 7% turning to online news for the first time over the past two weeks

Facebook and YouTube continues to dominate social media activity:

  • 79% using Facebook, with 29% using it more over the past two weeks
  • 77% watching YouTube, with 30% watching more YouTube over the past two weeks
  • Only 38% surveyed use Twitter and 49% using Instagram
  • Only 28% of respondents are using TikTok, but over the past two weeks, 9% of existing users have increased their TikTok usage and 5% have used the platform the first time

While more time is spent at home, consumers are also engaging in more gaming. Smartphone/tablet games are proving more popular than PC and console gaming:

  • 53% are playing video games on smart phone or tablet
  • 46% are playing video games on PC
  • 43% are playing video games on a console

Remote communications using technology is another new habit. Video chatting with families and friends has become increasingly popular:

  • 54% video chatting with friends and family
  • 26% video chatting with colleagues

Digital brand messages are being noticed. More respondents report to have received brands emails and noticed social media ads about the impact of coronavirus, than texts or print ads:

  • Retailers: 56% report to have received emails from retailers throughout the crisis and 23% have noticed social ads, while only 18% report to have noticed print ads or 15% received texts
  • Brands: 45% report to have received emails from brands and 26% have noticed social ads throughout the crisis, compared to 17% who’ve seen print ads and 15% who’ve received texts
  • Service providers: 49% report to have received emails from their service providers throughout the crisis and 20% have noticed social ads, while 17% have received text and 15% noticed print ads from their service providers

Online habits are up across the board. There’s been in an increase in digital activity across a range of services, with many believing there should be an increase in telehealth services:

  • Banking: 20% have increased the amount they use online banking over the past two weeks, with 24% using banking apps more frequently
  • Shopping: 26% have spent money on online groceries, with 17% doing groceries online more often over the past two weeks
  • Food: 27% have had food delivered, with 17% doing this more often over the past two weeks
  • Education: 31% of respondents had engaged in online learning – 15% from their own college or university, 16% from other places
  • Health: 28% believe more GPs and hospitals should offer telehealth service

Post-pandemic spending. Australians are looking forward to domestic holidays and the chance to eat out and see movies, once again:

  • 31% are looking forward to treating themselves to a holiday within Australia (compared to only 21% planning to go overseas)
  • 37% plan to go out more to eat, go to the movies, etc. once the pandemic is over
  • 12% want to treat themselves to something of significant value
  • While 14% just want to spend more money, generally

Steve Evans, Sector Head, Technology, Media, Telecoms and Entertainment, for Harris Interactive and Toluna, said,

“While we’ve seen surges in other video media, especially catch-up and subscription streaming, the boost in broadcast (both TV and radio) has obviously shifted the attention and priorities for media planners, where broadcast, online and social channels are taking priority over outdoor and experiential. As we gradually move out of lockdown, this will no doubt change again and it will be interesting to gauge just how much of the current peaked media behaviour will be retained going forward as things slowly migrate from lockdown.

“Social media has always played an important role for many of us and the lockdown and social distancing has meant that we must use these channels to communicate with people outside our home. It’s not just Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it’s also TikTok that has benefited from the restrictions in place and our need to socialise. We have witnessed new consumers of these platforms as well as increased usage among the existing user base. This obviously has an impact on where brands should advertise or produce content.”

Website: Toluna

Photo by Tyler Franta on Unsplash

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