Verto in London: Thoughts on the UK Consumer

Two months ago, we launched Verto Analytics’ services in the UK. And the response has been tremendous from internet companies, advertisers, entertainment companies, and more. This week, we gathered in London to thank some of our customers and partners and to discuss the British media landscape.

I also had the opportunity to formally introduce Mike Read, who joined Verto as the Managing Director of our European business earlier this year. Mike has been a driving force behind Verto’s work in London, and we’re thrilled to have his wealth of industry and audience measurement knowledge and expertise on board. Prior to Verto, Mike spent a dozen years with ComScore Europe as well as key roles in the UK digital publishing and television industries.

The evening also gave me a chance to discuss why Verto chose the UK as its first international market launch. As I mentioned during the event, London is a great hub for Europe, with a background as a financial and trade center. Over the years, however, its media and advertising sectors have also evolved significantly; to Verto, London is still the “capital of media” in Europe. Today, the city is home to global companies like Facebook and Google, as well as a homegrown media, television, and advertising powerhouses.

Verto and the UK: A Rapidly Advancing Market

The UK is a sizable testbed for many new products. A decade ago, when I worked with Nokia at their height of their success, they chose to launch all new N-series multimedia phones in the UK first — and viewed UK consumers as a primary source for feedback regarding the user experience. UK-based carriers were also actively progressive, preparing for long-term innovations like 4G and mobile payments.

Of course, in the intervening years, Apple and Google disrupted the device market and digital media landscape alike, but the UK continues to play an influential role in the global media landscape. I used to say that Verto data indicated that UK consumers lagged behind their American counterparts by one to two years in the adoption and use of new  devices and services. This is no longer the case; many metrics align closely with what we’re seeing in the U.S., but usage is still very localized — in an exciting way — in the UK. British consumers show a higher rate of stickiness (engagement and use frequency) when it comes to mobile apps. They also index higher for news content and have very heavy usage of financial-related apps and services compared to Americans — and local services shine alongside the competitors from the US.

Notably, local UK companies have been able to boost their presence and market share, including on mobile. For example, more than 60% of the Trinity Mirror user base is mobile-only (those who do not use PCs at all to access Trinity Mirror) and the BBC has almost 20 million unique adult mobile users every month. Although the top global internet companies dominate the rankings in the UK, Verto’s cross-device reports indicate that there are as many as 39 Britain-based companies among the 100 biggest cross-device publishers — a greater proportion than we see in most other European countries. Interestingly, these are companies — such as the BBC and Sky — with strong experience in multiple types of media channels. Major retailers like Sainsbury’s and Tesco are high up on the list, while the Trinity Mirror ranks among the top 20 companies on Verto’s top publisher list. (Contact us for our report on the UK’s top-ranking publishers).

UK Consumer Behaviors Are Evolving Quickly

Consumer behavior in the UK has changed more during the past 10 years than it has over the past 50. Digital usage has exceeded TV usage in younger age groups, and Verto Analytics data now shows a similar effect among older age demographics. Our data also indicates an increase in cross-device consumption: one third of UK consumers are already so-called 3-screen online users, using three devices types to access online services each month. Over the next two years, the number of people actively using at least three different types of online devices to connect to the internet each month will approach 50% in the UK.

Driven by mobile, the amount of time that consumers spend on digital media is also growing quickly. On average, consumers in the UK spend nearly two hours per day on PCs, 1.25 hours per day on smartphones, and 47 minutes per day on tablets. Combined, UK consumers spend more time online today than the time spent on TV (which is about 3.5 hours per day). And that’s before we take background usage and traffic into consideration.

Redefining Mobile in the UK and Beyond

We also must reconsider the actual terminology we use when talking about mobile. How do we define mobile, and what constitutes a mobile device today? As consumers increasingly turn to devices like tablets, wearables, and portable media players, should we still consider them as mobile devices? Does the interactive UI on Amazon’s Alexa or the iPhone’s Siri constitute mobile app usage or? Do mobile apps even require a screen? Is the Amazon Echo contributing to Amazon’s mobile reach or not? How can we measure video services across all devices and screens, and what are the borders between TV and online video in the first place?

Verto Data in the British Market

Answering these questions requires a nuanced understanding of consumers and the devices they use. And that’s why we’re especially excited to bring Verto Watch to the UK market. Verto’s capabilities to perform in-app measurement, report on stickiness (engagement), and to follow the British consumer across his or her “day in life” across all screens provide answers for things like what, who, when, and where.

However, the most fundamental thing is to understand what triggers consumer behaviors, and why. That’s why we built Verto’s new survey service, which enables brands, publishers, agencies and internet companies — based in the UK and beyond — to run targeted and behaviorally triggered consumer surveys, which can then be combined with behavioral or technical information. This intersection of data is crucial to understanding why your customers are churning out, identifying the characteristics that differentiate heavy users from light users in terms of their psycho-graphic profiles, or measuring if low user satisfaction is contributing to decreased engagement metrics.

Interested in learning more about our UK media measurement services? Contact us, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.