Ofcom digital survey "shows agencies must evolve very quickly"

An Ofcom study revealing a digital landscape in which 14- to 15-year-olds are the most technologically savvy provides evidence that PRs need to be better at creating "personal experiences", it has been claimed.

The 11th Communications Market Report found that people in their mid-teens showed the best understanding of digital technology, scoring the highest average score – 113 - in the regulator’s ‘digital quotient’ test.

The study of nearly 2,000 adults and 800 children also revealed that the average UK adult now spends eight hours, 41 minutes per day using media or communications, which is 20 minutes more than they spend asleep.

However, the growth of multi-tasking across different platforms meant that total use of media and communications averaged over 11 hours every day in 2014, the report claims, which is an increase of more than two hours since 2010.

"Agencies must evolve very quickly and learn to communicate in the right way otherwise they won’t reach these younger people and will miss out on that generation," said Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ technology practice director Charlie Morgan.

Morgan claimed an evolution in the public’s consumption of content means PRs must play to the consumer’s desire for "a personal experience" by delivering brand "stories" across an increasingly diverse range of platforms.

"Consumers don’t just want information. Ultimately they want to discover the story in a way that seems like it has been made for them, and the aim is to allow these consumers to discover this story in multiple ways. The comms industry is trying to take people on these journeys but clients can still be behind when it comes to this."

Where computer use was traditionally centred on desktops, tablet and smartphone devices were starting to dominate, the survey found.

More than four in 10 households (44 per cent) now have a tablet, up from a quarter (24 per cent) a year ago, and more than a quarter (28 per cent) of those over 55 now own a tablet and many use it as their main computing device.

"In a world where people are consuming vast amounts of media brands need to think bloody hard about how to stand out and get noticed in what is often a wall of noise," said Hope&GloryPR co-founder James Gordon MacIntosh.

However, he argued that the trend did not necessarily mean a terminal decline for traditional media outlets.  

"Younger teens have always consumed different media in different ways to older generations, and that’s principally because they have more time. I suspect as they grow older and have less time they will revert to trusted editors and curators of information."

Pointing to steady consumption of radio and TV, of which the latter grew its revenue by 3.4 per cent in two years to £12.9bn, he added that a changing focus in traditional news media may offer more, rather than less, opportunities for clients.

"Traditional media like TV and newspapers have shifted to become less about news and more on expertise and insight. Brands have an opportunity to step in offer that insight."

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