Internet most powerful medium, says F-H study

The internet has ten times the influence of traditional print media on the average consumer, according to a study by Fleishman-Hillard.

McRoberts: companies are 'under-investing' in the web
McRoberts: companies are 'under-investing' in the web

The global agency interviewed 5,000 internet users in the UK, Germany and France for its Digital Influence research, published today. The internet trumps newspapers and magazines as the most influential medium, with double the influence of television, which ranks second.

F-H's findings, however, indicate that companies are still 'grossly under-investing' in the web, with online ad spend making up only about eight per cent of the total advertising market in 2007 (ZenithOptimedia).

The survey also highlights the industries where consumer choice is most influenced by the internet. The travel and leisure sector is overwhelmingly dependent on the web, with nine out of ten respondents claiming they are influenced to book flights and holidays online.

Health decisions are influenced to a far lesser degree, with about a third of respondents using the web to find a doctor or buy medicine.

The study, by F-H digital research V-P Brian McRoberts, also noted that the bulk of print and online news is 'still produced by journalists', rather than uploaded by members of the public. It added, however, that 'journalists and bloggers are increasingly one and the same'.

Experts said the research was indicative of PR's increasing influence online, as advertising fails to adapt to web 2.0. 'The advertising model developed over the past 50 years, so it is dating at an ever-increasing rate,' said Xavier Adam, MD of marcoms agency AMC Network.

'PR is more nimble. It can be used as a marketing campaign tester, as smaller tests are possible at a lower cost.'

- A separate study of online habits by Rainier PR also shows B2B tech PROs have been slow to see the benefit of digital media.

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