The ground is forever shifting under our feet in the physical and digital content business. But here are four trends that should be shaping your content and distribution strategies. These aren't so much about your current audience, but your future audience, who are online, connected and will expect things to be available digitally.
1. Today’s 16-year-olds were born the year Google launched
If your offspring picked up his or her GCSE results this week they were probably born in 1996. What else happened in 1996? Google launched as a research project by two computer science Phd students at Stanford University. It wasn’t fully incorporated as a company and launched to the public until 1998 to be exact, but the fact is that today’s school-leavers won’t remember a time when they couldn’t search for something online and expect to find it.
2. Two thirds of young people own a smartphone
For adults smartphone ownership is growing at great speed: from 27 percent in 2011 to 39 percent this year is some growth rate. But among young people this trend is bewilderingly advanced: 66 percent of the 16-24 age group own a smartphone as well as three in five of the 24-35 age bracket. Source: Ofcom Communications Market report July 2012 (pdf)
3. For the young, internet access is almost universal
In 2006 10.3 million UK households didn’t have access to the internet. In 2012 that number has halved to 5.2 million (there are around 23 million households in total). But the stat that matters is that 95 percent of households with children in the UK have internet access, compared to 80 percent for all households overall.
Here's total internet connection uptake since 1998:
Of course, there are 300,000 households with children – whether through poverty, disability or remoteness – but the number is getting smaller and smaller every year. Even if Jeremy Hunt's ambitious aim to have the fastest broadband speeds in Europe by 2015 seems far-fetched, the societal impact of online connectivity is already vast and permanent.
Source: The Office for National Statistics’s (ONS) long-running Internet Access – Households and Individuals report series (pdf).
4. Young people love YouTube, older people love Amazon
This is a classic example of the old web developer’s maxim “you are not your user”. If media companies are run and controlled generally be people in their 40s and 50s, it’s worth considering that the kinds of things those people use the internet for are very different to the kinds of things younger people do, as this chart shows:
So among the 2-17 age bracket, the top three most-visited sites are YouTube, Google and Facebook, whereas for people aged 25 and over bbc.co.uk and Amazone feature in the top three. Source: UKOM/Nielsen Home and Work Panel, March 2012 (pdf, via Ofcom)
And just as a final thought, this revolution isn’t confined to young people: two thirds of 65-74-year-olds have internet access in their homes.
Image by Tim and Selena Middleton on Flickr, via a Creative Commons licence