The third screen: Mobile Internet is catching up fast among Filipinos, study confirms

Written by Anjo C. Alimario
Saturday, 12 June 2010 18:54

More Filipinos are using their mobile phones to access the Internet. A “solid” 5 percent of Filipino consumers are now going online using their smart phones—from practically zero just a year earlier.

This was one of the key findings in the Net Index study, the first in-depth Internet media study of urban Internet users in selected countries in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Now on its second year, Yahoo!, in partnership with Nielsen Media, recently presented the results of the study, especially to aid marketers who are making decisions about online opportunities in the still-mushrooming Web market.

According to Nielsen Media, the past year brought dramatic changes and new insights, which characterize the online behavior of almost 30 million Filipino Internet users.

And the popularity of smart phones is one of these key changes. Because of the growing importance of new mobile phones such as the iPhone and Blackberry in the media business, it is now being considered the “third screen” after TV and the computer.

“We feel that, in the future, these screens will become more convergent as consumers move content from one platform to another,” said Nielsen Media Philippines executive director Jay Bautista, adding that the adoption of smart phones as the gateway to the Internet mainly driven by the upper-middle class.

This trend is quickly taking hold in the Philippines, as telecommunications companies are providing more affordable rates compared with the per-kilobyte or per-minute charges before.  Now, telcos offer unlimited surfing for a day, week and even a month. Smart phones are also packaged with postpaid plans, Bautista added.

Around 40 percent of Filipinos are expected to increase their future usage, according to the study.  Filipinos using smart phones use mobile Internet for communications such sending and reading instant messages (77 percent) and sending and reading e-mail (75 percent).

It is not just the rise of the mobile phones that marketers should anticipate. Although most Filipinos still rely on Internet cafés for Web access, this number has declined slightly to 69 percent from last year’s 71 percent. Instead, more are now accessing the Internet from their homes with 31 percent, up from 27 percent in the previous study.

The study also revealed a tremendous growth in terms of Internet access across the country. For Luzon, Tuguegarao has 37-percent Internet accessibility, which is already comparable with Metro Manila’s 40 percent. Olangapo (35 percent) and Angeles (34 percent) also showed high accessibility to Internet.

In the Visayas region, Dumaguete (33 percent) and Bacolod (32 percent) showed high accessibility along with Davao (29 percent) and Zamboanga (27 percent) in the Mindanao region.

Other insights from the study:

  • Search emerging as the top online activity. In terms of dynamics, the study showed a shift in how people are using the Internet. “E-mail and messenger are still present but search has grown from 58 percent to 76 percent,” Bautista said.

Those from 10 to 39 years old are the predominant users behind the significant increase in search.

And what are these people looking for? Entertainment-related content (62 percent) is the most searched category, followed by videos (52 percent), information/research documents (44 percent) and music/audio clips (31 percent).

  • Social media is changing the rules of engagement. Social media plays a major part in ushering in a “fundamental shift” in the way people interact with each other and media. Social networking (53 percent) lands as the most popular social-media activity followed by user-generated content (30 percent), while blogging (7 percent) and forums (11 percent) are the least popular.

“As we speak, there are people who are updating their Twitter accounts or changing their Facebook status. We’ve gone a long way of not just defining their audience’s gender, age and socio class, but how different each one in terms of attitudes, psychographics and online habits,” Bautista said.

And social networking seems to be here to stay for a long time, with Facebook registering an exponential growth from very low of 4 percent to a staggering 83 percent.

However, site preferences can significantly change. Bautista noted that Friendster, which used to enjoy a confident lead (92 percent over Facebook’s 4 percent), has declined to 84 percent. “Many of you are aware that many people are closing their Friendster accounts and shifting to Facebook,” he added.

  • Online entertainment is big among Filipinos. Consumption of entertainment content is expanding attributed to the increase in entertainment-related searches. Music videos, TV shows, movie trailers have become increasingly popular with the Filipino online audience.

“You have new songs debuting on YouTube or certain movies or channels that are only available from this site,” Bautista pointed out. In addition, sports updates, say, between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics or the upcoming Ateneo-La Salle fight in the UAAP, contribute to the hype, most especially among the youth.

Music uploading and downloading spiked from 25 percent to 41 percent. Video uploading and downloading posted an increase from 22 percent to 38 percent. In particular, music videos accounted for 73 percent of videos accessed in the past month and movie trailers represented 26 percent of video consumed.

The study employed personal face-to-face interviews to gather information. The area coverage has been extended to the national urban Philippines, or around the 22 major cities including Metro Manila. The respondents for the study were composed of males and females aged 10 and above across all socioeconomic classes.

A key qualification set for the study was that respondents should have used the Internet at least once for the past month. The sample size totaled 1,500 respondents and the fieldwork for the study was done in February.

“Our goal is to provide our stakeholders proper insights and understanding to help them succeed in their business whether they are media owners, advertisers or even those in nongovernment agencies,” Bautista said.

Jack Madrid, Yahoo! Philippines general manager, said being a leader in online marketing, Yahoo! tries to be a catalyst in helping the Internet community in the country to make use of different channels to their advantage.

“We at Yahoo! and Nielsen believe in the power of deep, fact-based insights, which, in the long run, will yield long-term results to our clients and partners that hopefully will drive bigger ideas and better results,” Bautista added.

Source taken from: http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=26363:the-third-screen-mobile-internet-is-catching-up-fast-among-filipinos-study-confirms&catid=48:marketing&Itemid=73

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