The internet is getting older, and that means how we use it is changing as well.
The Norman Nielson Group (NN/g), one of my favorite content providers, replicated a survey to assess 2019 internet usage compared with more than 20 years ago.
With more than 180 million websites at our fingertips today, our information-seeking behavior is evolving. More people are using the internet for information gathering to understand a topic — 40% in 2019 compared with 24% in 1997.
One of the biggest changes is that now a majority of people are using the internet to make decisions. People are comparing and using multiple information sources to help make choices.
NN/g attributes these changes to:
- More people are using the internet today. In the US, 36% of people had internet access in 1997 (Pew) compared with 87% in 2019 (Statista).
- You can access the web on many devices.
- Many more services and apps are available on the internet today than in 1997. Content categories have increased, and services are easy and comprehensive when you are information seeking.
Passive information acquisition — information we get accidentally while browsing or through push notifications — grew from 4% to 14%. People are now window shopping on the internet. For marketers, that means we need to place a high value on our headline content for ads, posts, articles and websites.
The study also found different content types were associated with different devices. Respondents reported the most critical information uses occurred on their smartphones (42%).
What has not changed is that marketers tend to think of the internet as a large brochure. It is not. It is now time to change our thinking of this constantly evolving and changing marketing landscape.