Category Archives: Information and Search

News and Ad Blocking – A Persistent Challenge

Keep stopping the ads!

So say a large and growing group of consumers.

There are multiple ways consumers are expressing this, from actively using ad blockers, to moving beyond “freemium” sites and content to those offering an ad-free experience with a paid subscription, or simply reducing their media consumption.

Ad blockers are being used by a substantial share of online adults in the US. Based on our 2017 wave of Technology User Profile throughout the US, 40% of Connected Adults are actively using an Ad Blocking app on at least one of their connected devices.
Ad blockers are being used across a range of user’s connected devices. The highest rate of ad blocking is on PCs, followed by Smartphones, and then Tablets.
The Ad Blocking rate is even higher among the most-active news readers. This rejection doesn’t bode well for ad-supported business models, such as that of many media outlets.

Looking ahead

Digital consumers continue to value an ad-free experience, whether for news, music, or video content. Consumers enjoy convenience and continue to respond to offers marketed as free. Although these hopes and preferences may persist, what matters more than wishes are what consumers do. Action matters more than opinion, just as behavior carries more weight than intention or preference. Seeing that so many consumers, especially such highly-engaged ones, continue to take the extra step to actively block ads continues to send the messages to advertisers as well as news outlets.

Meanwhile, many media outlets have gotten the message and moved their ad-free experiences behind paywalls. Others encourage freemium customers to at least whitelist their publications. To the extent consumers lower their defenses, this may reduce the value consumers place on being ad-free. In turn, this may encourage more consumers to return to being active readers.

Source

This post includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile survey, from TUP 2017, its 35th consecutive wave, as well as previous waves. Comparable results are available through TUP fielded in Europe and Asia. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Consumer research, Desktops, Information and Search, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Notebooks, Smartphones, Social Networking, Tablets, TUP 2017, Usage Patterns

Voice Assistants-What Users Ask About (MetaFAQs)

As the saying goes, many talk about the weather, yet few do anything about it. Our research doesn’t show if people expect Alexa to have any skills to do anything about the weather. However, it is the main subject users speak with Alexa about. That’s followed by requests about music.

MetaFacts VUP-Voice User Profile-Subjects by System

Meanwhile, web searches are the major subject users speak with their Voice Assistants about. This subject is dominated by Google Assistant, and closely seconded by Microsoft Cortana.

Alexa is ranked #1 in the breadth of subjects actively used, and is primarily used for weather, music, and entertainment. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Alexa is more-favored for shopping than other systems. What may be surprising is that shopping isn’t Alexa’s top helpful task. Since most connected shopping today is visual, most involves the use of a larger screen device such as a PC or Tablet.

Google Assistant is ranked 2nd for breadth of subjects, mostly utilized for web searches, navigation, and music.

3rd-ranked Apple Siri is used primarily for web searches, weather, and navigation, and is uniquely strong in messaging.

4th-ranked Microsoft Cortana is similarly used for web searches, weather, and music. Like Alexa, it’s slightly stronger than average for scheduling.

This is based on the MetaFacts Voice User Profile survey conducted in February 2018. This subset of the results report on active usage, which is a practical measure to contrast with the potential of what Voice Assistants may or may be able to do.

Observations

The market for Voice Assistants is in a time of flux and rapid development, as each Voice Assistant system touts the breadth of its skills, richness of their vocabulary, accuracy, humor, or other capabilities. Meanwhile, users are experimenting, with some former users having been discouraged by unmet expectations and others only at the start of their adoption.

Related research results

The MetaFacts Voice User Profile includes other related analysis, including:

  • The subjects Voice Assistant users ask about: weather, scheduling, music, entertainment, home automation, and more
  • Which Voice Assistant systems are being actively used, on which platforms, and which segments they are attracting
  •  Which listening devices are being actively used – from Smart Speakers to Smartphones and Headsets
  • Where Voice Assistant users will – and won’t – do their talking: in restaurants, driving, while walking, and many other locations and settings
  • How well – or poorly – users experience their Voice Assistants, and how performance metrics vary by system and listening device
  • How many adults are active Voice Assistant users, how many are former users, and how many have never tried one
  • Reasons given why consumers have never used a Voice Assistant, as well as why former users aren’t currently active users

Source

The information in this MetaFAQ is based on a survey of 525 online adults during February 2018 as part of the MetaFacts Voice User Profile (VUP). The study universe includes active Voice Assistant users, former Voice Assistant users, as well as consumers who have never used a Voice Assistant. Current TUP (Technology User Profile) subscribers can obtain the results of this newest research at a discount. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Consumer research, Information and Search, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Personal and Productivity, Shopping, Voice Assistant

Device Primacy and OS – What we Hold Near (TUPdate)

Device Primacy and OS – What we Hold Near – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, January 18, 2017

Primacy. The first device you reach for, the one you stay near, the one you rely on. You might think that it’s the Smartphone, and that’s correct for many, but not all. For many activities and market segments, PCs and tablets dominate. A user’s activity focus affects which devices they choose most often, as does their operating system collection, among other factors.

Primacy by OS Family

All-Apple and all-Windows users are living in different worlds – as they have strikingly different preferences for their primary devices.
Among Apple-only users, Smartphones are the primary device for most types of activities. The PC (Mac or MacBook in this case) is their primary device for cloud storage/sharing and for search and information-related activities. Half (50%) of these adults using only Apple iOS or MacOS devices (no Microsoft Windows or Google Android or ChromeOS) do most of their cloud storage/sharing activities on a PC, and just under one-third (32%) primarily use a Smartphone.

In contrast, among Windows-only users, the PC is strongly the primary device for every major type of activity. Smartphones are only ranked second for productivity/personal and graphics/images activities. A tablet is the second choice for the greatest number of activity types – cloud storage/sharing, search/information, shopping, and social networking.metafacts-device-primacy-primary-secondary-device-2017-01-18_17-08-39

Apple’s iPad doesn’t rank as a second device for any type of activity among Apple-only users. This low level of primacy may seem surprising given that penetration of iPads is higher than average among this Apple-loyal segment. Sixty-one percent of Apple-only users regularly use an Apple iPad, more than double the national rate of 29%. This primacy analysis doesn’t mean Apple-only users aren’t enjoying their iPads – simply that they’re lower on the list of devices they choose for a wide range of activities.

Devices and Primacy
metafacts-device-primary-summary-170113
Across the entire base of connected adults, the PC is the leader for nearly every type of activity. The Swiss Army Knife broad nature of PCs continues its appeal. Smartphones only lead PCs for communications and graphics/imaging activities. Many of the specific activities in these two categories are strongly mobile – making phone calls, staying in touch, and taking and sharing photos.

OS Family

Connected Devices are dominated by three operating systems families – Microsoft Windows, Apple’s MacOS and iOS, and Google’s Android and Chrome OS. The base of Windows, once exclusively dominant, is well-overlapped by Apple and Google. The majority of users are living a multi-OS lifestyle, juggling more than OS family. The two largest OS combinations are nearly equal in market size. Just over one-fourth (26%) of users use connected devices running Windows and Google, and none with an Apple OS. Another fourth (25%) have Windows and Apple devices, with none as Google.metafacts-device-primacy-2017-01-12_16-25-15

Profile highlights of OS Family groups

It might be assumed that Apple-only users are early adopters while Windows-only users are laggards, partly explaining why they might choose different devices as primary or secondary. This is only partly true. The Windows-only users do include many tech laggards and the late majority, with 38% being the last of their age group to have first used a PC, mobile phone, or tablet. However, the Apple-only users aren’t especially early adopters, as 32% meet that definition, which is slightly less than the 33% nationwide who also do. There are other characteristics that set them apart.
Windows-only users are the oldest of the major OS family groups, on average 10 years older than every other group. They also include the smallest share of full-time employees, highest share of low-income households, and lowest average number of devices.metafacts-device-primacy-user-profile-highlights-by-os
Apple-only users have the highest share of younger millennials, have relatively high incomes, although are middling with respect to tech early adopters and laggards.
The jugglers of all three OS are the youngest, high incomes, more devices in use, and have the highest share of tech early adopters.

Activity types, primacy, ages and tech spending

Primacy of device by activity also varies with respect to the user’s age and consumer tech spending on devices and services. Younger adults aren’t necessarily the biggest tech spenders, nor are Smartphone users. In fact, those who primarily use their PCs for social networking or image/graphics activities are the biggest tech spenders and older than those who mostly use Smartphones for those activities.metafacts-device-primacy-age-device-spend-2017-01-18_12-36-08

The average age of adults who use a PC for the majority of their image/graphics activities – from managing photos to creating presentations – is 44, nearly five years older than those whose primary image/graphics device is a Smartphone. The graphics PC group also spends more than $1,450 per year more than Smartphone-focused users. Similarly, PC-focused Social Networkers are more than 8 years older and spend $730 more per year on consumer tech devices and services than their Smartphone counterparts.

Looking ahead

We expect tablets to continue to languish as a minor device for most users and most activity categories. As more 2-in-1 and convertible notebooks emerge and grow in acceptance, they will continue to relegate tablets to secondary or tertiary use.
Smartphones will continue their market penetration, replacing the basic cell phone among the last stalwart holdouts. Whether the last new Smartphone adopters will choose to go with Android or Apple Smartphones will set them on a course strongly affecting their next PC and tablet purchase. It’s most likely they will choose Google Android since this segment is more price-sensitive and less tech-savvy than average.
PCs will continue their gradual decline from primacy, to be replaced by Smartphones. Within PCs, there will be a broader division between the activity profiles for desktop and mobile PCs. We expect desktop PCs to continue their broad primary and secondary use, due to inertia and the as yet unmatched broad capabilities of PCs. Mobile PCs, however, while pressuring tablets, will themselves feel the strongest pressure from Smartphones as their broad usefulness continues to expand.

About this TUPdate

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on the most-recent results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2016 survey, its 34th wave, with 7,334 respondents (US). For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Resources

Current TUP subscribers can tap into any of the following TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. This TUPdate is based on the TUP Life Stage section, which is within the TUP 2016 User Profile Chapter.

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Filed under Basic cell phones, Behaviors and Activities, Cloud Storage, Communication, Desktops, Devices, Entertainment, Graphics and Image, Information and Search, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Shopping, Smartphones, Social Networking, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate, Video calling

How many connected adults use hearables? (MetaFAQs)

For ears, it’s an exciting time in the tech industry.

Hearable technology – audio-oriented wearables spanning wireless Bluetooth headsets to VR headsets – have received a fresh round of media attention. This has stemmed from substantial recent investment in new ventures such as Oculus VR along with a wider range of product releases.

Currently, one in eight US connected adults are regularly using a hearable device – either a wireless Bluetooth headset or VR headsets. This level of use is broad enough to represent great potential opportunity, yet not broad enough to sustain many competitors.

The primary current use case for Bluetooth headsets are for phone calls, as has been the case for more than a decade. Apple is leading the charge to change this with their Airpods tightly integrated with iPhones, in a bid to help popularize voice-controlled usage. metafacts-metafaqs-mq0099-120drxhear-2017-01-11_08-54-29Voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Now promise to radically shift how users interact with their technology.

VR headsets, sometimes called goggles, are primarily being used for immersive games, and reaching a slightly different segment than Bluetooth headsets.

This is based on our most recent research among 7,336 US adults as part of the Technology User Profile (TUP) 2016 survey.

This MetaFAQs research result addresses one of the many questions profiling active technology users.

Many other related answers are part of the full TUP service, available to paid subscribers. The TUP chapters with the most information about activities is the TUP 2016 Wearables, Hearables, Listening, and Speaking Chapter. This details which market segments are (and aren’t) using hearables, listening to music, using music streaming services, making phone calls, playing games, using voice control, and other audio-oriented products and activities.

These MetaFAQs are brought to you by MetaFacts, based on research results from their most-recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP).

For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Behaviors and Activities, Communication, Consumer research, Forward-Leaning, Information and Search, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Smartphones, TUP 2016, Usage Patterns

Trends in Device Juggling (TUPdate)

Trends in Device Juggling: The Increasingly Active Smartphone, Persistent PC, and Late-Blooming Tablet – Dan Ness, October 20, 2016

We’re using more of our connected devices, and we’re getting more out of them. Looking deeper, some groups of Americans are expanding their collections while others are contracting.

The growing device number trend goes against one common meme – that “the PC is dead”. On first glance, only viewing the measure of devices per each connected adult, PC usage is flat. That shows that instead of PCs being replaced by Tablets or Smartphones, people are expanding their collections of actively used devices.metafacts-td1610-growing-device-collection-2016-10-19_16-35-10

There’s also something else going on. This top-line view may appear to show that “everyone” is using more devices, and as I’ll show later, that’s not the case. Some users have a more mobile profile while others are happily sedentary.

Both Desktops and Notebooks are a stable replacement market. Market demand is largely based on replacing older technology.

Tablets, although selling at high volumes in previous years, were in their earliest years isolated to a small niche segment busily replacing one after the other. Some shipments-based analysis missed the fast replacement cycle and misled some early analysts into believing these tablets were all being actively used and thereby increasing the installed base. Only in 2014 did penetration measurably broaden, and more importantly, so did the breadth of their active usage.

Smartphones have been for many years subsidized by carriers and replaced at the end of a subscriber’s contract. However, as subscribers have increasingly moved to contract-free use, we are seeing many replace their smartphones more quickly than others. The overall per capita average has increased as penetration has broadened.

Where the Activities Are

It’s not enough to simply have a device. What matters is whether it is actively used or not. The Smartphone is the most broadly used connected device, being actively used for more types of activities than any other connected device. This has been true since 2014. Tablets are only recently starting to expand their breadth of use in a more serious way, challenging the Notebook’s position as the 2nd-most broadly used device.

This measure is based on the breadth of activities by device type. The MetaFacts TUP survey includes an extensive range of activities, from shopping and entertainment to communication and productivity.

The Shifting Activity Emphasis
Looking more deeply, these two factors taken together tell a similar, although stronger, story. Mobile devices form the bulk of actively used devices. Tablets are increasing in number and usefulness, and based on their penetration and breadth of use, are now on par with notebooks. Desktop PCs continue to be both widely used and broadly useful, so should not be discounted as a powerful and persistent, if withering, force.metafacts-td1610-shifting-activity-emphais-2016-10-19_16-35-10

To determine the activity emphasis, we combined the per capita device type usage with the profile of each device’s activity levels. In this analysis, Smartphones can be seen as the powerhouse they’ve become. With both increasing penetration and broadening activity, the activity emphasis continues to grow for Smartphones.

The Preferred Combinations
Looking at per-capita or penetration analysis is a good starting point, and yet obscures some important differences and shifts in the market. Drilling down into the TUP data reveals more important patterns. First, having many devices is popular, not by many but by a large segment. The most-preferred combination of devices involves using four or more devices: two types of PCs: a Desktop and a Notebook, a Tablet, and either a Smartphone or Basic feature phone. This combination is currently used by nearly one-third (31%) of adults.

The second-most popular combination is a PC of any kind and a Smartphone. This represents nearly one-fifth (18%) of users.metafacts-td1610-popular-combinations-of-devices-2016-10-19_16-35-10

The third-most popular combination is used by nearly as many adults as the previous combination – 16%. This includes a Tablet, a Desktop PC, and either a Smartphone or Basic Feature phone.

One small combination worthy of note is one without a PC. These hardy and creative users have found a way to function with only a Tablet and a mobile phone – either a Smartphone or a Basic feature phone. While this group is very small – at 6% – it bears watching. It represents a possible approach for those wishing to be even more mobile than before. This group had more members a few years ago. In 2013, 11% of adults had this combination, and then migrated to other device combinations. At that time, many were new to technology use and started with this combination and then added a PC. However, this year both Microsoft and Apple have advertised their Tablets as PC replacements, and this group of users now includes those who have answered that call.

Leapfrogging into the Future
When looking into and creating the future, it’s vital to deeply understand the present. Consumers begin where they are. They don’t make choices in a vacuum and instead are strongly impacted by their current product collection. This pattern is a key element in the custom forecasting work we do.metafacts-td1610-device-trail-step-1-2016-10-19_16-35-10

Buyers have a strong disposition to follow a chain of events to get from point A to point B. Their choices are strongly affected by their current devices, ecosystems, activities, and habits. For example, while in 2013 18% of Connected Adults used a basic cell phone, desktop or notebook PC, and no Tablet, this combination dwindled to 9% while many users upgraded from their basic cell phone to using a Smartphone. The combination many moved to – a Smartphone, desktop or notebook, and no Tablet – today includes 18% of adults.metafacts-td1610-device-trail-step-2-2016-10-19_16-35-10

Similarly, the richest collection of devices has grown from being one of the least popular to being the most popular. The previously small group having a Tablet, Notebook, Desktop, and either a Smartphone or basic feature phone grew from 8% in 2013 to be 31% of adults. Many of these previously used everything except a Tablet.metafacts-td1610-device-trail-step-3-2016-10-19_16-35-10

The trend is not as simple as more devices being used. Many users are using fewer devices by choosing to use one type of PC – a desktop or a notebook. This is for many different reasons. While some users prefer the mobility of a notebook, others are moving to a more sedentary profile and eagerly shift to an all-in-one integrated PC design.

The Road Ahead

Looking ahead, we anticipate a gradual flattening in the overall average number of devices that people use. Desktops and Notebooks taken together will continue to dwindle in activity emphasis with some users preferring one form factor over the other. The growing acceptance of high-end gaming Desktops and Notebooks will boost the venerable PC’s position among the small but growing niche of hard-core PC gamers. The reemergence of highly-affordable and well-configured All-in-One integrated PCs will attract more casual users who otherwise would be complacently comfortable with what they have. Positioning by tablet makers from Apple to Microsoft with boost the broader use of Tablets as PC replacements beyond any gains earned from lengthening user experience.

Furthermore, new PC form factors will capture the imaginations of the design-oriented with newly shaped devices such as the speaker-shaped HP’s Pavilion Wave. Also, we’ll see further adoption of very small form factor PCs such as the Apple Mac Mini or HP Elite Slice.

Some day the device will disappear. It may sound like science fiction. In the not-too-distant future, we’ll see the beginning of the slow death of devices. These will be extensions of products and services such as today’s Amazon Echo or Dot. A person’s voice, face, or token will establish identify and allow them to use any of a wide range of microphones or cameras throughout their homes, cars, workplaces, or public places. With these connected to a high-speed network, extensive computing power needn’t be local. For this to happen in any sizable way, beyond technical hurdles there are still many factors to be addressed, from privacy and security to how information will be displayed or spoken in a useful way. The Echo’s current penetration below 2% is only the first step in a very long journey.

Well before a deviceless future comes about, though, consumers will continue to get more our of their devices. They will continue their momentum of broadening their activities with each of their many devices, regardless of size or shape.

About this TUPdate

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on the most-recent results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2016 survey, its 34th wave, with 7,334 respondents (US). Trend information is based on prior waves. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Resources

Current TUP subscribers can tap into any of the following TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis.

The TUP 2016 Devices Chapter details device combinations, as well as device primacy, OS Ecosystems, brand footprint, and other key analysis points. In particular, see the table set [490 UNITS x COMBO].

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Filed under Basic cell phones, Behaviors and Activities, Cloud Storage, Communication, Convertibles, Desktops, Devices, Entertainment, Graphics and Image, Information and Search, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Operating systems, Shopping, Smartphones, Social Networking, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate, Usage Patterns, Video calling