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Ofcom report: How consumer behaviour is changing

August saw the release of the report, Ofcom: The Communications Market 2018, which is a rich piece of research on how a decade of technological advancements have affected consumer behaviour.  Some highlights of the report have been extracted and shown below:

Market overview

  • 5.2% of households spend was on communications services (£124.62 per month); 70% of this was on telecoms services.

Always on: the connected consumer

  • People claimed to spend a total of one day a week online (24 hours), more than twice as much as in 2011.
  • Seven in ten commuters use their smartphone on their journey.
  • The most popular smartphone activities for commuters are sending and receiving messages (43%) and using social media (32%).
  • Young adults are more likely to multi-task on their smartphones while they commute: 27% of 18-34s engage in at least five online activities while commuting, but only 9% of over-35s do so.
  • Most adults acknowledged the value of being connected, with three-quarters agreeing that being online helps them maintain personal relationships. But they also acknowledge its drawbacks, such as interrupting face-to-face communications with others.

A decade of change in the communications sector

  • Since the launch of the BBC iPlayer and the iPhone in 2007:
    • Smartphones have become the most popular internet-connected device (78% of UK adults use one)
    • Ownership of tablets (58% of UK households) and games consoles (44% of UK adults) has plateaued in the last three years
    • Smart TVs were in 42% of households in 2017, up from 5% in 2012
    • One in five households (20%) have the wearable tech (smartwatches, fitness trackers)
  • The benefits of the last ten years of connectivity have not been distributed equally. Lower-income households and over-54s are less likely to have smartphones, laptops and tablets, but are as likely to have a TV.
  • Mobile phones and TVs are the only communications devices with near-universal reach in the UK (96% and 95% of households).


  • Nine in ten people watched TV every week in 2017, for an average of 3 hours 23 minutes a day. This is nine minutes less than in 2016, and down across all age groups under the age of 65. Those aged 55+ accounted for more than half of all viewing in the UK.


  • More than half (50.9%) of all radio listening is now digital, mainly due to growth in listening through DAB.


  • Nine in ten people had access to the internet in the home in 2018.
  • The majority (62%) of time spent on the internet was on mobile devices, and mobile advertising made up 45% of online advertising in 2017.

Landlines and mobiles

  • The number of ADSL (copper) fixed broadband connections was overtaken by fibre connections in 2017.
  • Data use continued to increase – UK consumers used an average of 190 GB per fixed broadband line in June 2017 (up from 132 GB in June 2016) and 1.9 GB per active mobile subscription in 2017 (up from 1.3 GB).

All Response Media viewpoint

We believe that this latest report continues to illustrate that acquisition opportunity is not a binary view of online vs. offline, but rather how do these ecosystems interact and how can brands capitalise on this rapidly changing dynamic. Integration between media specialisms is essential in identifying these new opportunities. If these channels are planned, bought and measured in a silo then we don’t believe you will ever truly maximise the effectiveness of your media investments, and more fundamentally you may be making the wrong decisions on what you believe is effective.

For me, there are some insights, that do correct some common misconceptions:

  • Linear TV is not dead: People spend 203 mins a day on average watching TV. It is as universal and consumed to effectively at the same rate volume over the last few years.
  • A mobile device is +60% of internet consumption: So, the ‘mobile first’ customer journey needs to become a reality for some brands, not just lip service.
  • 70% of commuters use their smartphone on their journey: A clear example of how media strategies should be looking to capitalise on these multitasking moments. All media suddenly comes instantly responsive via our smartphone, not just digital.
  • More radio listening is digital now: 13% of UK households used a smart speaker in 2018. Digitalisation may breathe new life, and not kill ‘traditional media’ as new opportunities present themselves through the additional connectivity.