How long do Australians spend online? An entire day a week – and businesses get the benefit

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Australians are surfing the web more than ever, with the average person spending the equivalent of almost an entire day online every week.

A new report by Nielsen found that in the past decade the average time spent online has tripled, with seven in 10 Australians now active social media users.

The study also discovered more than a third of Australians are connected to the internet on a device that did not exist 10 years ago. The online world has also infiltrated homes, with 38% of households owning four or more internet-enabled devices such as smartphones or tablets.

Nielsen research director Melanie Ingrey says she was not surprised that Australians are spending more of their time online. However, what did surprise her was how much the media landscape has changed in such a short time.

“Take a glance at 10 years ago,” she says. “When you look at it in that context it is really quite astounding the way Australians are adapting to new technology. We were up there in adopting social media too, so I think consumers are quite adaptive and love the convenience.”

Laptop ownership has increased dramatically in the past decade, from 33% of the population to 77%. During the same period the ownership of desktop computers decreased slightly, from 80% of the population to 72%.

Ingrey says while there is a shift towards portable devices, the majority of Australians are still using desktop computers. Rather than shifting from one device to another, the average person is now “dual-screening”.

“For marketers, the environment is moving so fast. Obviously the big questions at the moment are the growth rate of smartphones, who are adopting tablets and how mobiles change the way we access online content.”

Ingrey says, at first, social media was about listening in to the conversations customers were having with one another about particular brands. Businesses now need to understand they can use websites such as Facebook and Twitter as publishing platforms to get their messages across to consumers.

“It is so much more difficult now to know how your customer should be engaged. It is about using all the pieces of research you have to know your customers and offer them something of value. Consumers expect that now.”

Today, over a quarter of advertising money is spent online. In 2003, online marketing accounted for only 3% of advertisers’ spending.

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