Mapping Digital Media: Where’s Canada in Global Rankings on Social Media, Music Downloads?

By: Lee Rickwood

January 21, 2013

We know consumers today show an insatiable hunger for media in all its forms, be it online or mobile, traditional analog or digital interactive.

And we often think we’re at or near the front of the food line here in Canada, what with all our social media networking and smart phone calling.

global-mapBut, according to some recent studies and surveys of consumers around the world, we are not leading the way or near the front.

In fact, one online map of the digital world doesn’t even have a Canadian component (well, the country’s outline is on their map, but no meaningful survey results are attached).

Visiting social networking sites, accessing maps and directions, and viewing news online are the top three digital activities across all markets.

But, far from our Great White Wired World, it’s the urban consumer in China, Brazil, India and Singapore who is seen as the world’s most voracious user of digital media, powered by the rapid uptake of smartphones and tablets there.

According to another new study, part of the KPMG International 2013 Digital Debate, those folks are in the lead among all countries in accessing various forms of digital media.

(Among the many amazing, sobering and inspiring statistics to come out of India is the number of cell phones in operation – 545,000,000 and counting!)

“In emerging, high-growth markets, people are not encumbered with the legacy of PCs and have leap-frogged straight onto portable devices,” explained David Elms, Head of Media for KPMG UK. “This creates amazing opportunities for tech and media companies, many of which are struggling to devise models that are profitable and which truly sate consumers’ vast needs for information. They need to delve into understanding content much more intimately as it relates to their customers and then, marry the two.”

Moreover, consumers from China, Brazil and Singapore not only prefer to access their content digitally, they are more willing to pay for it.

Beyond the sheer size and scale of these markets, they are therefore very attractive to media, tech and content providers as a good representative of how to implement and master new models for generating revenue from digital media distribution and consumption.

Now, Canada’s wireless industry is said to generate some $40+ billion for the Canadian economy (a 2010 figure that includes direct and indirect employment as well as spinoff benefits), not an insignificant number but a small percentage of anticipated global revenues.

Perhaps that’s one reason Canada is a pale participant on the interactive map created by the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) at the National Endowment for Democracy.

The researchers focus is obviously elsewhere, as they worked to develop an interactive map featuring 10 digital media indicators from 60 countries, showing how digital media availability and usage can impact political, economic and social activity.

The interactive map helps visualize digital media indicators from a series of individual country reports, and it shows the comparison of digital media penetration in various countries – just not Canada (at this point), nor India or Brazil, for that matter.mapping-digital-media-central-africa-featured-20130103

In that sense, the Mapping Digital Media project looks at opportunities as much as activity created by the global transition from traditional to digital media.

The mapping app, by the way, is accessible on both desktop and mobile devices, and there’s an iPad version of the map, Apple App Store.

Global media consumers are surely familiar with that process.

In fact, a new generation of mobile-centric consumers is getting its first media experience via devices. This growing segment has a much greater preference for digital media, and the coming of next-generation, high-speed mobile networks will likely accelerate this trend.

The ‘second screen’ experience lets consumers interact with multiple connected devices simultaneously often while also watching TV. Nearly half (48 percent) of all Chinese consumers say they use their smartphone while viewing the TV, while 60 percent say they use their laptop while watching TV, around half (52 percent) read newspapers and around a third (36 percent) are accessing social networks. Half of all North American respondents say they watch TV and access the internet for reasons other than social networking using a laptop or a PC. Forty-four percent of European respondents say they do the same.

Accessing these multiple devices concurrently appears to impact advertising effectiveness — but not everywhere, according to the survey.

Urban consumers in Brazil, China and Singapore have the highest receptivity to advertising and accept that it can underwrite the cost of the content they enjoy. Seventy-seven percent of Chinese consumers and 62 percent of Brazilian consumers are happy to receive online ads in return for lower-priced or free services.

The story is a little different in the more developed markets, where the aversion to advertising is greater, with only 46 percent of North Americans and 39 percent Europeans willing to accept such a deal.

Overall, however, consumer spending for digital content is gradually rising, with respondents reporting higher year-on-year spend for every form of digital media. In North America and Europe, for example, 37 and 20 percent of consumers, respectively, say they have increased their spending in accessing magazine applications compared to last year.

While China, Brazil and Singapore lead in their willingness to pay for online content, consumers in North America and Europe show a higher willingness to only pay for access to certain content, such as dating sites and books and less on news, music and games, for example.

“A number of content owners are trying to repeat the traditional revenue models online, aiming to reverse the trend of getting information for free. Consumers are only prepared to pay for content if it is perceived to have value, at the right price, in the right format and accessible on the right device,” KPMG’s Elms added. “The opportunity exists for media companies to tap into ‘second and third screens’ via social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook and create an overall experience and effectiveness for advertising.”

So far, however, the integration tends is only partial.

Kind of like the CIMA map.

* * *

KPMG International commissioned YouGov to undertake an online global survey of more than 9,000 consumers across North America (US, Canada), Europe (Germany, Spain, United Kingdom), Asia Pacific (Australia, metropolitan China and Singapore), and Latin America (metropolitan Brazil). Metropolitan China has an estimated population of 426 million and metropolitan Brazil 50 million. In each market, around 1,000 adults (aged 16+) were interviewed, with the exception of the US, where the interviewees were all 18+ and China and Brazil, where the data was representative of the “urban populations”. The data was weighted across age, sex and region. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1 and 15 October 2012.


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