DIGITAL 2019: GLOBAL INTERNET USE ACCELERATES

We Are Social and Hootsuite’s latest collection of Global Digital 2019 reportsreveals that internet users are growing by an average of more than one million new users every day, with all of the original ‘Next Billion Users’ now online.

The number of people using the internet has surged over the past year, with more than one million people coming online for the first time each day since January 2018. It’s not just internet users that have been growing either, as the extensive new collection of Digital 2019 reports from Hootsuite and We Are Social reveals.


We’ll explore all of the key trends and insights from this year’s reports in detail below, but here are the essential headlines you need in order to understand ‘Digital in 2019’:

  • There are 5.11 billion unique mobile users in the world today, up 100 million (2 percent) in the past year.

  • There are 4.39 billion internet users in 2019, an increase of 366 million (9 percent) versus January 2018.

  • There are 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, with the worldwide total growing by 288 million (9 percent) since this time last year

  • 3.26 billion people use social media on mobile devices in January 2019, with a growth of 297 million new users representing a year-on-year increase of more than 10 percent.


2018 really was another year of impressive growth across all things digital. However, perhaps the most compelling story in this year’s numbers is that internet user growth actually accelerated in the past year, with more than 366 million new.


Our latest internet data – collected and synthesised from a wide variety of reputable sources – shows that internet users are growing at a rate of more than 11 new users per second, which results in that impressive total of one million new users each day. It’s worth noting that some of this growth may be attributable to more up-to-date reporting of user numbers, but that doesn’t detract from the implications of this growth.


Internet user behaviours in 2019 The ways in which people use the internet are evolving quickly too, with mobile accounting for an ever-increasing share of our online activities. We’ll dig into the specifics of mobile and app use in the dedicated mobile section below, but it’s worth noting here that mobile phones now account for almost half the time that people spend on the internet.


E-commerce sites have been steadily rising through the ranks of these lists over the course of the past year, and Alexa’s latest data puts 5 e-commerce sites in the top 20 ranking. Chinese platforms are particularly well represented this year, and it’s worth highlighting that both Taobao and Tmall now rank higher than Amazon in terms of global traffic.


E-commerce users in 2019 We’ll finish this year’s analysis on another high point. The latest data from Statista’s Digital Market Outlook studies show that e-commerce spend has grown by 14 percent year-on-year, with the company estimating that full-year 2018 spend on consumer goods alone topped US$1.78 trillion.


At 17 percent, Fashion & Beauty posted the strongest growth over the past year, with annual global spend in the category now topping half a trillion US dollars. However, online travel and accommodation bookings accounted for the largest share of consumer e-commerce spending in 2018, with users around the world spending a combined US$750 billion on online travel over the course of the full year.


So… what’s next? Hopefully, that extensive (!) roundup of key data points has given you a thorough grasp of digital today, but let’s finish up by taking a look at the year ahead. But this isn’t a predictions piece; rather, it’s an extension of the trends that I’ve been seeing in this year’s data.


1. Voice control will increase in importance: the next phase of internet growth will come almost entirely from developing markets. However, as you can see in the chart below, many of these countries suffer from lower levels of literacy compared to the countries that dominate the internet today.


2. The social landscape will evolve: with some of the world’s top social platforms losing users over extended periods, it’s likely that we’ll see some attrition and consolidation in the social media industry over the coming months. If current downward trends continue, we can expect investors in both Twitter and Snapchat to increase pressure on those companies’ boards to accept an offer of acquisition.


3. Marketing as a service: looking behind the scenes of the brands that achieve the greatest success on the internet, it becomes apparent that many of them share something in common: they treat marketing as a service. Rather than pumping out endless corporate propaganda and trite advertising, these brands use their marketing budgets to create things of value for their audiences. Whether it’s something as simple as a valuable how-to video on YouTube, or a large scale event that puts the audience at the heart of the action, this ‘marketing as a service’ is the only antidote to ongoing media inflation and the audience shift from newsfeeds to stories.

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