VITAL DATA: What every comms person needs to know about the Ofcom communications market report 2018

We will look back at 2007 as being a year when the world went in a new direction and communicators struggled to keep up.

In January that year, Apple’s iphone, Google’s Android and BBC’s iPlayer were all launched.

Tom Baldwin in his book ‘Control, Alt, Delete’ singles out the pivotal year of 2007 as the moment that the world was being re-shaped faster than business and people could adapt to it. I’d add communicators to that list, too, who are also running to keep up.

Better internet connectivity is leading to better devices which leads to new services online.

One annual set of helpful bright red snow poles through this blizzard of change has been the Ofcom communications market report. It maps how people consume the media that acts as a mirror to the UK. Trends, impossible to spot on the ground day-to-day are mapped from a strategic view.

This year, it has slimmed from around 250 pages to a slimline 90. And in addition, there is an interactive page that allows you to drill down for more data.

In short, this report remains the numbers you need.

A decade of change

ofcom 2018 infographic

We are a smartphone nation

Across the UK, 78 per cent of the population have a smartphone.

Smartphones are ubiquitous. From 17 per cent ownership a decade ago to 78 per cent a decade later they are the platform of choice.

People check their phone on average every 12 minutes.

Almost half – 46 per cent – would miss their phone most out of all channels.

ofcom18-3They help us stay connected and they are the platform of choice as a web browser more than a maker of phone calls. More than 90 per cent are more bothered about their phone’s ability to connect to the web over 75 per cent bothered about its ability to make calls.

The average time spent on a smartphone is two hours 24 minutes rising to three hours 14 minutes for young people.

Since 2007, we have left some tech behind

But as tech moves, some channels wilt. Desktop PCs have fallen from 69 per cent ownership to 28 per cent with DVD players dipping from 83 per cent to 64 per cent.

Tablets are plateauing at 58 per cent ownership with ownership amongst the AB demographic at 39 per cent greatly larger than the DE demographic on 14 per cent.

We are maintaining some media

Nine out of 10 people watch TV weekly with 95 per cent owning a TV set.

Radio is still listened to by 90 per cent of the population – unchanged since 2007.

We are developing a taste for new tech

On average, 13 per cent of homes have a smartspeaker with Amazon – 75 per cent – in market dominance.

Just over 10 per cent listen to a podcast every week with a peak of 28 per cent amongst 25 to 35-year-olds.

Virtual reality headsets – 5 per cent – make their debut.

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We are always online

A total of 64 per cent say the internet is an essential part of their life and 29 per cent feel lost without the internet and 34 per cent are cut off without it.

Of all mobile phone users, 76 use their device to go online.

One in five adults is online 40 hours a week or more with the UK average now 24 hours per week per person. That’s double the figure compared to 2011.

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We are online at home but less so at work

In 2007, we used the internet 3.3 hours a week at work which has risen to 6.6 hours in 2018. The figures are dwarfed by the 14.9 hours a week opn average we spend online at home.

We rely on smartphones on the commute

Time travelling with a smartphone means that 42 per cent complete personal tasks while 35  per cent carry out work-related tasks. Young people are especially adept with nine per cent of 18 to 34s carrying out 11 or more tasks compared to 1 per cent of over 35s.

We know there is a downside

Just over half (54 per cent) accept that phones intrude into conversations but young people are far more forgiving than older people.

Young people and old people are united in using it to connect

Surprisingly, while different age groups use the web in a different way, there is a broad consensus that the web is useful for keeping connected with friends and family. All age groups are around 75 per cent in agreement.

Smartphone ownership peaks at 95 per cent for 16 to 24-year-olds where almost everyone has one. But he trend is also to be found for over 55-year-olds wit ha majority – 51 per cent – have such a device.

We are maintaining social media

In the UK in 2018, 77 per cent have a social media account.

Comscore research, which is referenced in the report shows the league table of UK users:

YouTube 44.3 million

Facebook 41.8 million

Twitter 27.5 million

Snapchat 22.7 million

Messenger 22.3 million

Whats App 21.0 million

We are fractured in our social media use

As the research shows, different age groups use different platforms in different ways. But the breakdown of who uses what is hugely useful when planning content.

ofcom reachHow to use the Ofcom communications market report

The document can be found on the Ofcom website and downloaded as a pdf. It can also be accessed through an interactive portal here.