Our digital practice in Europe has recently launched the results of a piece of research conducted in France, Germany and the UK with consumers on the impact of the use of the internet on their decisions. The Digital Influence Index that results uses both the time spent on different media and the influence consumers say it has on the decisions they take to come to an index that we shall be using to track the growing power of the internet over time. The study was undertaken by FH with Harris Interactive.
Unsurprisingly, the study comes to the conclusion that the internet trumps both print and broadcast media in terms of the influence it has on consumer decisions. Clearly, there is a lot more to the study than that, so click here for the social media release with lots of further info, pics, speeches, exec. summaries and media coverage.
While the study focuses for the most part on decisions consumers take, rather than political decisions, it does address the latter. Interestingly our bods come to the conclusion that political decisions by citizens are less likely to be influenced by the internet than other consumer related decisions.
Having said this, it is clear, at least for me, that the study underlines the potential impact of digital on public affairs and politics.
1. The influence of the internet scores highly (61%) in terms of citizen behaviour of campaigning on an issue. This compares favourably to campaiging for a political party (45%) and voting in an election and way above voting in an election (18%). Speculating wildly, one might argue that this confirms the issue driven nature of the internet rather than the party political. This underlines the fact that on our issues, Brussels public affairs people might find rich pickings in finding and mobilising people around issues online. It should be our natural hunting ground for third party advocates. (see p. 11 executive summary)
2. Political parties/candidates need to be on the net. While the influence of the net on votes in elections may be lower than on other forms of political activity (see point 1. above), in terms of influence different kinds of sites have content from “sponsored sites” (i.e. party/candidates) scores highest of all 61% and non-sponsored sites score second highest 42%. (see p.12 executive summary). This suggests that the politically interested are going online to get their information and that more candidates/parties should invest online to get their message out to their core support – more work for Jon perhaps?
We hope to have some more comments from the people behind the research on here soon, in the meantime your views on the findings are most welcome.