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January 19 , 2010

8 in 10 Canadians in throes of digital dependency
Synovate survey shows we can't live without it

Global market intelligence firm Synovate released data from a global study on media and advertising that shows eight in ten people in Canada cannot live without the internet or would miss it a great deal if it were not there, just edging out television (TV) as the world’s favourite medium.

Synovate's global executive director of media, Steve Garton, said the firm conducted the study because determining where and when marketers can engage potential customers has never been more challenging.

“Should they join the social media zeitgeist or dabble around the edges in a wait-and-see stance? Is their brand best served by TV, print or radio? And what about the mobile platform?

“Of course the answer is all wrapped up with targeting and ROI, the same as it has always been. To do that well, you simply need to understand your audience... what they like and where their lives intersect with media and brands.”

Synovate asked more than 8,600 people across 11 markets, including 1,000 respondents in Canada, for their thoughts on media and advertising.

We're with the (broad) band

Eighty-eight percent of respondents in Canada say they either could not live without the internet or would miss it a great deal if it wasn't there, while 70% said the same for TV.

Rob Myers, managing director of Synovate in Canada says, “Changing demographics, the evolution at the web to a social platform and the proliferation of new technologies (mainly mobile) are transforming the media and advertising landscape. The opportunity for more targeted and personalized advertising is growing and the ability to engage the masses is shrinking. This is creating a tectonic shift in the business models and economics of all media/advertising related industries”.

Dying out of print

There have been many rumors that print is dying. About a third of people surveyed in Canada say they can easily live without newspapers and magazines. The majority the respondents like having them but feel that they don’t need them so it has become more of a ‘nice to have’ source of information.  Publications need to offer both online and print versions to target to be able to reach their audiences. 

“Online newspapers, online magazines, twitter…. All of this is leading the shift from newspapers and magazines to the virtual world. The long term question is how changing demographics will continue to drive this shift and if the teens and kids of today will ever pick up a newspaper or magazine in the future?” said Myers.

And what about the radio star?

While radio isn't valued as much as TV or the internet, 16% of Canadians 'can't live without it' and 37% would 'miss it a great deal' – these percentages are higher compared to print media.

Myers commented that radio usage is well related to peoples’ time spent in the car and sports.

“Radio is an interesting case. While it continues to change with satellite radio, MP3 proliferation etc. it remains an important and stable media source for people. I imagine that if cars disappeared that would be another story.”

Making ads work harder and better

Garton said: “We all know there is no such thing as mass broadcast media anymore, well, certainly not like there was when there were two TV channels and everyone watched at 7:30 p.m. every night. In a world where people are engaged in niche interests, advertisers have to find and engage with them.

“In encouraging signs for behavioural targeting, the survey indicated that a significant number of people are willing to accept it in order to improve their experience with advertising.”

Some other findings:

  • Seven in ten Canadians think there are too many ads on TV and 54% feel there are too many ads in magazines.
  • Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed in Canada have actively tried to avoid TV and radio advertising by turning off, changing the channel or using personal video recorders to fast forward through recorded ads.
  • Close to half of people in Canada (43%) have avoided websites that they feel have intrusive advertising and 37% say they are doing it more often than a year ago.

This may explain why 37% of those interviewed in Canada said that they would like it if "websites and TV channels developed technology that monitored the sites you use and the TV channels you watch so they could make the ads you see more relevant to your interests."

Many media owners and advertisers are trying to adopt behavioural target marketing and this survey suggests that a substantial number of people would be willing to accept it.

Of course, privacy concerns are important and the majority of those who are open to behavioural targeting say they would only agree if none of the data collected could identify them.

A further 38% of respondents rejected the idea outright because they are uncomfortable with the idea of data being collected about them.

Eleven percent of Canadians neither rejected nor endorsed the technology because they were not interested in changing the ads they see".

Myers concluded: "Privacy laws and the protection of personal information are important to Canadians. Industries need to educate consumers and ensure that privacy concerns are listened to and addressed before customers are willingly to engage in order for them to succeed in behavioral targeting."

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