In Consumer Insights

As we highlighted earlier this month, consumers spend a lot of time on their devices. In December, the average American adult (ages 18 and above) spent nearly 200 hours per month on their PCs, smartphones, and tablets combined. But regardless of which device they use, what kind of content gets the most consumer attention? Verto Analytics looked at consumer usage data in both the U.S. and the UK to identify which content categories attract the greatest share of consumer time.


Social media, fake news, and productivity: U.S. vs. UK

Verto data shows that social media and communications properties (a category that includes Facebook, WhatsApp, Kik, and Tinder) receive the most consumer attention in both the U.S. and the UK. However, Americans spend more than a third (34%) of their total time online using social media and communications properties, whereas this activity only accounts for 28% of the time that British adults spend online.

This difference in behavior may partly explain the rise of “fake news” and its associated controversies in the wake of the U.S. election season: social media platforms play an important role in content discovery and distribution, and American consumers show a heavier dependence on social media properties; in contrast, news and weather properties (a category that includes the New York Times, BBC News, and aggregators like Flipboard) only account for 5% of the time that Americans spend online.

Verto data also shows that finance, search, and especially productivity properties have higher share of total engagement among UK consumers. For productivity and finance properties, this effect is particularly profound: British consumers spend twice as much time as their counterparts with these two categories in particular, leading us to conclude that consumers in the UK are more likely to engage directly with these brands and services. U.S. consumers rely instead on social media platforms for exposure and discovery of these content categories. However, the share of time that American and British consumers spend with entertainment content (a category that includes Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube) is nearly equal.

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