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Digital Trends 2020

This week we are sharing "Digital 2020", a joint report from We Are Social and Hootsuite published at the beginning of each year. The report provides an overview and essential insights into how people use the Internet, mobile devices, social media, and ecommerce around the globe. We’ve provided a summary plus implications for Samsung below.

Connecting the Unconnected

Just over 40% of the world’s total population - roughly 3.2 billion people - remain unconnected to the internet, with 31% of “unconnected” people living in Southern Asia (India, Pakistan) and 27% coming from Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia). Research shows that there is a gender gap within connectivity, with more than half of women living in India today being unaware of the existence of mobile Internet. While much of this imbalance stems from “deeply ingrained social norms and practices,” connecting the unconnected will depend heavily on improving digital accessibility for women, especially in developing economies.

Mobile Accounts for Half of Internet Use

Mobile phones now account for more than half (50.1%) of all time spent online globally - up from 37.6% in 2015. With 92% of the world’s Internet users connecting via mobile devices, this figure may seem lower than expected. But despite mobile’s ubiquity, three-quarters of Internet users still go online via laptop and desktop computers. While approximately 53% of all web page requests now come from mobile phones, computers still account for 44% of the total.

App Usage is Universal

Mobile apps account for an overwhelming majority (91%) of the time spent using mobile phones, with only 9% of time spent using mobile web. Apps are being used in almost every aspect of people’s lives, whether it’s staying in touch with family and friends, relaxing on the couch, managing finances, getting fit, or even finding love. Smartphone users spent over US $120 billion on apps and app-related purchases in 2019, with the average user spending about US $21 per connected smartphone.

Social is Mobile First

About half of the 3.7 hours that people spend using mobile phones each day is dedicated to social and communications apps (Instagram, Facebook, WeChat), meaning that these platforms account for the same share of mobile time as all other mobile activities combined. Across mobile devices and computers, people now spend an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per person, per day using social media, up by 2 minutes per day since this time last year.

Influence of the East

The Internet’s center of gravity is moving gradually eastward, with Asian apps and websites commanding an ever-increasing share of global activity. The latest rankings of the world’s top websites illustrate the dramatic rise of Asia’s ecommerce platforms, with China’s Tmall in third place, behind Google and YouTube. The full top 20 list includes 5 Chinese ecommerce sites, 4 of which belong to Alibaba.

Gaming is a Serious Business

More than 4 in 5 (81%) Internet users play video games every month, equating to a total global gaming community of more than 3.5 billion. In 2019 gamers spent more than US $150 billion on games, an increase of almost 10 percent compared to the previous year. Smartphones are the primary gaming device (69% of Internet users), but 25% report playing games on dedicated gaming consoles. These console users spend an average of 70 minutes per day gaming, rising to more than 90 minutes per day in markets like Thailand, Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

Online Video Persists

Approximately two thirds of all mobile data used is to stream video, with over 90% of Internet users watching online video each month. As for specific platforms, YouTube still has the greatest share of online video viewers, with roughly 3 billion people watching monthly. The number of people streaming TV content via the Internet also continues to rise, with 67% of Internet users now watching TV content via some form of subscription service (e.g. Netflix, Disney+, Hulu).

Economic Development Doesn’t Determine Ecommerce Adoption

Nearly three-quarters of the digital population buy something online each month, with highest ecommerce adoption in Southeast Asia and European markets (Indonesia, Thailand, Poland). The distribution of use across geographies suggests that economic development is not the primary determinant of ecommerce use, and that other factors are more important, i.e. sites that cater to the language needs and cultural preferences of local shoppers. More purchases happen via mobile, however most people use both devices for shopping depending on the product they are buying and context of shopping activities.


· While mobile is increasingly becoming the primary screen for digital connection, people are still using multiple devices interchangeably across digital activities (video, ecommerce, social). Ensure a seamless brand experience as consumers move between screens, tailoring creative (design and messaging) accordingly and optimizing ad formats across devices.

· Look for unique opportunities for Samsung to continue the conversation within gaming (through event sponsorships, Esports, in-game advertising etc) building off past campaign success with Fortnite’s “Galaxy Skin” and demonstrating commitment to gaming communities with increasing cultural intelligence.

· Explore possibilities to be part of video streaming experiences (both ad supported and non-ad supported) through meaningful brand integrations, product placement, licensing opportunities, and by leveraging popular ad products with top platforms. Always ensure solid measurement of all activities to pioneer insights & learnings.

· Test emerging digital platforms early (video, social, commerce) and identify optimal ways to engage with the community, specifically passionate early adopters.

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