Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How much?

It is not that long ago that TV viewing figures used to be compiled by a selected group of viewers filling in diaries. When this was changed to being measured by actual usage, somewhat unsurprisingly, overall viewing time leapt.  It also showed that viewers were more fickle than had been recorded a wider number of channels were watched more frequently than had previously been suggested.

Rather like the teenager claiming only to have been on their Xbox for an hour when its clearly been twice that, it is not because we are inherently dishonest, but simply because we are not good at monitoring our own activity.

So it was no surprise when a recent study by Forrester Research found that in US users claimed their online usage fell by around 10% from 2011 to 2012. The reality of course is the opposite (and by a lot more than 10%). Quite simply in this case the participants in the study no longer release when they are online, as that used to involve a physical act of going to a computer and starting up a web browser.

Now (or around about now) more people are accessing online services via mobile devices hour by hour then ever before. But finding your way using Google maps, or checking the availability of a product in a stores app doesn't feel like "going online", so in some minds it doesn't count.

The result of this phenomena is that the reality of take up of new digital services is invariably far ahead of our expectations. For no reason other than the fact that we tend to extrapolate from our own experience which is invariably underplayed.
And when you really start digging into how people behave online it becomes even more interesting. We know from many sources that app viewing figures do not confirm to expected patterns either. That peak usage time is not commuting time (as expected) but between 10pm and 11pm. Not many people ever guess that. Yet no organisation has yet to really make the most of the challenge/opportunity that this presents.

Only when you take time to measure activity can you truly understand and respond to it.  Look at the numbers, not your instincts.