Corporate Eye

U.K. Consumers Choosing Social Media over Search Engines to Find Content

Nearly one in two U.K. internet users between the ages of 18 and 24 choose to use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to search for online content rather than search engines like Google. More than one out of three U.K. internet users between the ages of 35 and 44 choose social media over search engines, and nearly one in four between the ages of 35 and 44 choose social media over search engines to find online content.

Those are some extremely interesting statistics, and while younger U.K. internet users are more likely to choose social media sites to search for content rather than using a search engine, that doesn’t mean older U.K. internet users aren’t starting to make a similar shift. More than one in ten U.K. internet users between the ages of 55 and 64 choose social media over search engines when they need to find content.

This data comes from a May 2013 study by Blinkx, a video search technology company. Following are the specific results from the study that quantify just how big the shift away from search engines to social media sites for finding online content really is:

  • Age 18-24 = 43% choose social media over search engines to find online content
  • Age 25-34 = 34% choose social media over search engines
  • Age 35-44 = 23% choose social media over search engines
  • Age 45-54 = 13% choose social media over search engines
  • Age 65+ = 5% choose social media over search engines

The data is so compelling, that eMarketer predicts the share of digital ad spend that goes to search will start to decline in 2014 as a result of the user shift from search engines to social media. In 2013, 58.9% of U.K. digital ad spend went to search, but by 2017, eMarketer forecasts that the share of digital ad spend that goes to search will drop to 53.3%. Instead, those advertising investments will go to display, particularly video.

Of course, this prediction doesn’t mean that search advertising spending will plummet soon after 2017, but user behavior is changing. Brand advertisers are going where their customers spend time, and they’re spending more and more time on social media sites every day. It remains to be seen if performance will warrant shifting even more digital ad spending away from search or not.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts on the future of search advertising.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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