Robin Langford Robin Langford Premium Content Editor, Performance Marketing World

5 global media trends: Smart TVs soar as market fragments

A gargantuan global media report out this week depicts a growing landscape of smart devices and a looming ‘metaverse’. But the staying power of traditional outlets like radio means an omnichannel approach endures for marketers.


The new report, from Insider Intelligence, Publicis and GWI identified key digital trends worldwide following an analysis of 43 markets and the responses of 100,000 respondents over the first half of 2021.

The 2021 edition of the “Global Media Intelligence Report” reveals key digital trends worldwide, designed for business executives who require comparable consumer usage data to support their decisions for global initiatives, and forms a core part of the planning processes for the upcoming year, for performance marketers around the world.

This year’s report includes five key themes:

  • Ownership of PCs and/or tablets continues to fall in many countries. Smartphones are already the primary—and sometimes the only—digital device owned by many internet users around the world. As advanced handsets continue to consolidate that position, larger-screen devices may be destined for a secondary role.
  • Smart TVs are gaining ground as high-quality in-home entertainment becomes a must-have. In all but a handful of countries, smart TV ownership rose by several percentage points year over year.
  • Adoption of other smart products has accelerated. In 2020, a small minority of internet users polled owned a smartwatch, but momentum was building. That trend continued this year, with penetration climbing significantly in most countries.
  • In many countries, digital video has overtaken broadcast TV. As in prior years, TV still reaches more consumers worldwide than any other content-based medium. Yet the share of internet users watching digital video now surpasses the share watching live TV in many parts of the world.
  • The digital audio market is evolving, but radio hasn’t gone away. Broadcast radio’s reach shrank in many markets this year, but time spent with radio hardly changed since 2020.

"Massively diversifying”

Aaron Goldman, CMO at Mediaocean, says: “The fact that there’s strong momentum behind new formats won’t come as a surprise, but the pace at which penetration is going for smart technologies is impressive, and something that all marketers need to be mindful of. Just as significant, though, is the perseverance of more traditional media consumption behaviours, with little reduction in time spent listening to the radio.

“It all adds up to a landscape which isn’t just shifting from one channel to another, but massively diversifying. This year we’ve also heard a lot of chat about what could turn out to be the seeds of the next wave after ‘smart tech’ with conversation stirring about the metaverse. It can be tempting to speculate about which channels might lose out when new trends sway our media habits, but this year’s Global Media Intelligence Report shows that we shouldn’t lose touch with the basics. Marketers will always need to take an omnichannel approach, and the challenge will be to manage and measure that work everywhere from good old paper to the science fiction virtual spaces of the future.”

“Experiencing their world in new ways”

Kelly Kokonas, EVP, Global Data Strategy, Publicis Media-Starcom, says: “When, where, and how people consume media continues to evolve, and this is no exception in 2021 as the global pandemic continues to alter our daily routines for a second year. For markets across the spectrum of smart and mobile tech adoption and digital video maturity, this report provides deep, cross-market insights on how people of all demographics and backgrounds are empowered by technology and experiencing their world in new ways.” 

“The pandemic seems to have prompted significant shifts” 

Jason Mander, chief research officer at GWI, explains: "We have been paying close attention to the impact the pandemic has had across the planet. For the second year in a row, we see the pandemic as a major influence on both media consumption and device ownership. Some countries have been affected more intensely or differently this year than last. 

"Of course, many internet users had already experienced the types of restrictions imposed during the first phase of the health crisis in 2020, so we might have expected little change in their media behavior in 2021. That was true in some cases—but in others, a second year of the pandemic seems to have prompted significant shifts. For example, in many countries digital video has overtaken broadcast TV. Subscription video-on-demand products enjoyed a big boost in 2021, suggesting many internet users who resisted the appeal of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other providers last year finally gave in to temptation as the pandemic continued."

Access the report here.

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