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Social Media Dominates: Now Wields More Influence Than TV Advertising

Social media is dominating Australians’ media consumption habits, a new study from Deloitte has found.

Deloitte’s annual Media Consumer Survey has found that social media’s influence stretches beyond entertainment preferences and news consumption, with social reviews and recommendations for the first time taking over from TV advertising in terms of influence on buying decisions.

Deloitte found that all age groups are invested in social media, with 84 per cent of Australians engaged with social media networks, two thirds interacting with social media every day and 27 per cent checking their account four or more times a day.

“Not only has social media become an entertainment activity in its own right, it is now our number one digital destination,” Deloitte Consulting digital strategy leader and report co-author Niki Alcorn commented.

“We spend 21 per cent of our digital entertainment time on social media – creating, reading or commenting on content, uploading photos and videos or writing reviews – with women spending slightly more time (25 per cent of their digital entertainment time) in social domains than men (17 per cent).”

Alcorn noted that, while 92 per cent of respondents are on Facebook, Millennials are gravitating “to newer, more mobile and image-focused networks”, including Instagram and Snapchat.

“Snapchat is almost exclusively being used by Millennials, with usage dropping away significantly over the age of about 30,” she commented.

“Disposability of content also plays a role in this shift, the younger generations are enjoying real-time shared moments with the benefit of more private content that doesn’t live on in perpetuity online.”

Almost one in five respondents use social media as their primary source of news (up from 9 per cent last year), while for Millennials social media is now the primary source of news.

“More respondents (58 per cent) have ranked ‘reviews from people within their social media circles’ in their top three influencers for buying decisions than television adverts (55 per cent of respondents),” Alcorn stated.

“This is the first time this has happened – and notably the influence of advertising on purchase decisions has fallen for the first time in four years. Adverts on social media are also influencing us more than ever, with a 17 per cent CAGR increase over the last four years in people’s perceptions of them having a high or medium influence on their purchasing decisions.”

TV is still Australians’ preferred viewing method, accounting for 42 per cent of total viewing time.

“TV may still be number one, but streaming is hot on the heels of live programming, accounting for almost a quarter of our viewing time, up from 18 per cent last year,” Deloitte Financial Advisory leader Clare Harding observed.

The number of people paying for streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) content has almost doubled since last year, up to 22 per cent.

“It’s still early days for SVOD in Australia, with respondents experimenting with what these subscriptions have to offer,” Harding commented.

“In order to access their desired content, 18 per cent of SVOD subscribers have more than one service, with two-thirds of multi-subscribers expecting to maintain two or more services in the future.”

Meanwhile, virtual reality is seemingly on the cusp of steep growth, with 58 per cent of respondents believing it will enhance media experiences and 10 per cent intending to buy a headset in the coming year.

“We’re seeing more and more applications of VR hit the market, both in the commercial space and in-home entertainment, and the recent phenomenom of augmented reality game Pokémon Go illustrates the desire to adopt these new technologies,” Harding stated

“Stated purchase intent for VR is around the same level as it was for fitbands and smartwatches when they first became available, which are now at penetration rates of 21 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively.”

Advert-free entertainment is also becoming more of a priority, according to the survey.

“People not only want the freedom to choose the content they watch, they are willing to pay for it to enjoy an advert-free viewing experience,” Harding commented. “Almost half of us (48 per cent) would pay to watch movies in exchange for not being exposed to adverts, whilst 43 per cent would pay for TV shows to avoid them.

“When it comes to streaming services, respondents’ willingness to view adverts is diminishing (50 per cent in 2016 down from 58 per cent in 2015), even if it significantly reduced the cost of the subscription. And in the digital domain, ad blockers are giving consumers the power to shut out ‘interruptions’, with 28 per cent of respondents now using ad-blocking software.”

TV advertisements, meanwhile, for the first time in four years, fell in the rankings, with 55 per cent of respondents this year, compared to 63 per cent last year, perceiving these advertisements to have a high or medium influence on buying decisions.

“And in the growing digital advertising market, social platforms for the first time are seen as being as influential as search, with 40 per cent of respondents identifying these among digital advertising channels as having the greatest influence on their purchasing decisions,” Harding commented.

Millennials are shaping the media consumption behaviours of the future, with their use of social media outstripping all other age groups, with 84 per cent of Leading Millennials (27-32) and 77 per cent Trailing Millennials (14-26) daily users of social networks, Deloitte found.

“Twenty nine per cent of Millennials use social media as their primary source of news, compared to only 12 per cent of other respondents,” Deloitte Telecommunications media and technology leader Stuart Johnston commented.

“But we’re now seeing this trend play out among other generations, with 20 per cent of Gen Xers using social as their primary news source this year, compared to just 6 per cent in 2015.”

Millennials are also leading the way with SVOD uptake, with 35 per cent subscribing to a service, compared to 14 per cent of other respondents.

“If other age groups continue to follow Millennials’ lead we will find ourselves being entertained more on the internet – already the number one entertainment activity for Millennials,” Johnston commented.

“And when we are watching TV content, it will more likely be via a streaming service than live programming, with 32 per cent of Millennials preferring this method compared to 16 per cent of other age groups.”

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