Social networking most popular among young people in Western Europe
Western Europe will boast more than 267 million internet users in 2012. By 2016, nearly 290 million will be online—69% of the region’s residents.
Germany, with the largest population overall, also has the greatest number of web users: some 57 million in 2012, and 10 million more than the UK. In France, over 40 million people will be online this year. While in Italy and Spain, the internet population will be nearer to 30 million.
“Many patterns of online behavior are similar throughout the EU-5,” said Karin von Abrams, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “Western Europe Internet Usage: Variations on a Theme.” “Email and search are universally popular. But there are notable differences, too. For example, Spain’s web users are more likely than those in other countries to be active in social networking. In addition, the reach of social networks is rising faster in France, Germany and Italy than in the UK.”
Some social networking habits are broadly consistent across Western Europe. Social networking is far more popular among younger people than among older ones. In the UK, 69% of web users ages 16 to 24 visited social sites in Q1 2011, compared to 54% of those ages 35 to 54, according to the Office of Communications (Ofcom). In Germany, the “TNS Convergence Monitor” reported that 72% of web users in the country ages 14 to 29 used social sites in May 2011, compared to 38% of those ages 30 to 49.
Nonetheless, there are notable variations in social network usage across the EU-5 that are significant for advertisers and marketers. In Spain, for example, social networks already reach a higher proportion of internet users than they do in the UK. Italy too will overtake the UK by this measure in 2012. The UK currently has the third-highest rate of social network usage in the EU-5, but penetration will rise more quickly in France and Germany. From 2013 on, levels of social networking in the UK actually look set to fall below the regional average.
“Given the variations in web access and usage from country to country, and between demographic groups, marketers may find it taxing to monitor precisely how, where and why their audiences go online,” said von Abrams. “But these habits are still the bedrock of successful campaign planning.”
The full report, “Western Europe Internet Usage: Variations on a Theme,” also answers these key questions:
- How is the online population developing in France, Germany, Italy and Spain?
- What proportion of internet users in these markets access the web via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets?
- What are the most popular online activities among Western Europe’s web users?
- How much do usage patterns vary from one country to another?
This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. Total Access clients, log in and view the report now.
Check out today’s other articles, “Marketers Attempt to Align Online Video and TV Campaigns” and “Mobile Internet Adoption in Italy Makes Inroads.”