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Our relationship with the internet

  2. INTRODUCTI ON Digital technology has become a vital component of the modern world, and many of our daily interactions involve some aspect of the internet. Here are some key elements of the internet’s journey (Jefferson Online, 2016): 1962 Idea for global computer network is developed by MIT computer scientist j.C.R. Licklider. In 1969, the first ever messege sent via an interconnected computer network (arpanet) was sent. 1973 Robert kahn and vinton cerf develop a protocol for linking multiple networks together. Robert metcalfe developed a system to allow the transfer of more data over a network, which is now known as ethernet. 1982 The phone net system is established, allowing communication between multiple global nations Domain system is introduced in 1985. 1990 Hypertext mark-up language (html) and the uniform resource locator (url) is developed, forming the world wide web. 1995 sees the capitalisation of the internet with the introduction of platforms such as amazon, yahoo and 2000s Google becomes the dominant search engine. A rise in the use of wireless internet (wi-fi) as well as the use of internet devices such as smartphones.
  3. INTERNET SPEED Increased internet usage and reliance has increased the demand for better speed and connectivity. The following graph shows an increase of around 15 megabites per second from 2007 to 2017 (O’Dea, 2020). In recent years, we have seen the introduction of 5G which has provided much faster internet speeds and greater connection capacity than its predecessors 3G
  4. ACCESS TO THE INTERNET Figure 3 shows the age distribution of internet users worldwide, with 25-34 being the biggest percentage of users. ((3) Clement, 2020) Older adults have seen a huge increase in internet usage, which could be due to improvements around navigation and increased confidence in the digital world (Hunsaker & Hargittai, 2018). For the younger generation, the internet has always been around and a huge part of their lives.
  5. DIGITAL DEVICES USED BY AUDIENCES With improvements to mobile data infrastructure and phone display quality, smartphones have taken over as the preferred device for accessing the internet. Figure 1 shows that a higher percentage of people use a smartphone compared to other devices (O’Dea 2020) Smartphone usage has increased across all age groups since 2012, with the biggest increase of 80 per cent among those aged 55-64. Smart phones have become more accessible in terms of affordability. With a decrease in average global price of around 60.6 us dollars (O’Dea, 2020). With factors such as portability and ease of access, its easy to see why smartphones have taken the lead!
  6. HOW CUSTOMERS SEARCH FOR INFORMATION Over 90% of our online experiences begin with a search engine (Harris, 2021). Generally, we use search engines for the following purposes: E-commerce Purchasing clothes Shopping for health and beauty Booking holidays *** In 2019, e-commerce made up 19 per cent of all global retail revenue (Chow, 2021). Information Keeping up-to-date with global and national news Researching for work or study Seeking reviews/ recommendations *** The first listing for a query is commonly Wikipedia, which sees over 18 billion page views per month (Anderson, 2016). Entertainment Streaming music/video Browsing social media Online gaming *** Almost 5 billion YouTube videos are viewed per day (Donchev, 2020).
  7. WHAT CONSUMERS BUY ONLINE Figure 5 shows that e-consumption has increased across a variety of categories since 2015 (Wenger, 2019). April 2020 showed the largest consumption in each category, which is likely due to the outbreak of COVID-19; more people relied on the internet for their shopping and therefore spent more time and money online.
  8. ONLINE VIDEO CONSUMPTION • With so many consumers now opting to shop online, traditional businesses are having to adjust to new technologies in order to remain relevant and retain market share (Scott-Briggs, 2017). Figure 5 compares the changes in revenues of Netflix and Blockbuster, from 2006-2010 (Jones, n?a). The streaming giant Netflix took the entertainment industry by storm and became the go-to platform for watching on demand movies and television. Although a success story in its early days, Blockbuster became the less convenient choice for watching new movie releases. Consumers opted for the quicker and less time-consuming choice of Netflix, as it saved the time and money associated with travelling to their nearest Blockbuster
  9. TIME SPENT ON THE INTERNET With increased accessibility to internet devices and more businesses operating online, the time we spend on the internet has increased dramatically since 2011. Time spent on the internet does vary per region. According to the office of national statistics, UK internet users spend an average of 5 hours and 46 minutes per day, compared to 3 hours and 45 minutes per day for users in japan (Brown, 2019). Figure 2 shows the increase in time spent on the internet, indicating a rise from 2011-2020 (Clement, 2020)
  10. HOW HAS THE INTERNET CHANGED OUR SHOPPING HABITS? E-commerce has become increasingly popular over the years, and more consumers are opting to shop online rather than instore (Chaffey, 2017). Online retail is made easier with the help of digital technology, as it is so readily accessible thanks to the various digital devices. Consumers also utilize the internet to look for recommendations before buying products; it was found that 84 per cent of shoppers refer to at least one social media site when shopping online (Saleh, 2020). Figure 4 shows the various reasons for shopping online (Chaffey 2017).
  11. CONSUMER TRENDS With the rise in the use of the internet, businesses have had to adapt and increase their use of technology. Consumers hold the power now; we now expect a prompt and fast response from businesses due to our increased accessibility to them, so in order to retain loyal customers, businesses have to react to demands.
  12. NEW MARKETING METHODS Businesses are taking advantage of new online marketing methods in order to increase market share and relevance. An Influencer is an individual with a large online following who works alongside brands to promote their products or services to their audience. They primarily do this through various social media accounts and streaming platforms, with the most popular methods being Instagram posts and YouTube videos (Bailis, 2021). An increasing number of businesses are utilizing influencers to increase their advertising and boost profits; 65 per cent of influencer marketing budgets increased in 2020, compared to only 39 percent in 2018 (Bailis, 2021). This increase in use of influencers could be due to society’s increasing use of social media; because we spend more time online, it makes sense for businesses to focus their advertising online. Figure 6 shows what businesses budgeted for influencer marketing spending in 2019, with 19 per cent opting to spend between $1001 and $10,000 (Bailis, 2021).
  13. THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET “Information will be displayed, floating in the air....The web will appear in the real world, not just on glass screens.” – Mike Liebhold, Apple Senior Researcher Experts believe that digital technologies will continue to expand in the future. Some believe that there will be less reliance on typing and more emphasis will be placed upon verbal communication (Blitz, 2019). Consumers have sacrificed their private information for convenience; our data is captured through our phones both verbally and when we search online. Information sharing and data capture will likely be even more crucial for businesses, as new technologies will have an increasingly better insight into our wants and needs (Blitz, 2019). Image sourced:
  14. SUMMARY • The internet is becoming more and more important in our daily lives. With the internet, we can connect with people on a global scale, we can access different businesses and markets we couldn’t access before, and we are able to access more information than ever before. • Developments in digital technology and devices have increased accessibility for different groups and demographics. • Due to the ongoing global pandemic, many people are relying solely on the internet for work and entertainment purposes, and the developments in digital technology have enabled society to continue in various ways.
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