The Internet Is Most Influential Worldwide

According to the findings of the 2010 Digital Influence Index, by Fleishman-Hillard International Communications with Harris Interactive, when it comes to driving consumer decisions about a range of products and services, the Internet is by far the most influential media channel, but marketers have yet to capitalize on that influence.  

Of the seven nations the study addressed, four reported the Internet to be the most important source of information. China ranked the web highest in importance, followed by Germany, Japan, and the U.K., placing it above advice from friends, family or coworkers, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, postal mail and e?mail. And though respondents spend a significant amount of time on the web, they still reported peer advice as an important information source. The Internet and peer advice tied in importance among Americans. 

Magazines, radio and postal mail had the least importance among respondents, with an average of 10, 12 and 15 percent reporting each respective media as "absolutely essential" or "extremely important." Newspapers and television received similar average rankings of around 16 percent. 

Overall, the web has the highest net importance of the media types included in the survey. E?mail, which was tabulated separately from the Internet, was also seen as important among respondents. Not surprisingly, radio ranked lowest in net importance, followed by magazines, newspapers and television, respectively. The Internet is most valuable to the Chinese who are online, but it also earned positive net importance in all the other countries. China and Germany positively ranked several forms of media, while other countries focused primarily online and on peers.

Since consumers tend to discount the impact of any form of media on their lives, the study uses a concept called net importance to draw conclusions about the relative importance of each media. Net importance takes the bottom two importance ratings for a media and subtracts that from the top three importance ratings, establishing a single number for the relative importance of a medium.  

Net Importance Of The Internet Compared To Other Media (Net % of Respondents Considering Selected Media to Be Absolutely Essential or Extremely Important)  






Internet (not e?mail) 



















































Source: Fleishman-Hillard International, June 2010; Net Importance calculated by subtracting Bottom 2 importance scores (not at all/somewhat) from top?three importance scores (Essential, Extremely, Very)  

Detailed findings of consumer behavior in an average week:

  • In the U.S., 42% of online consumers do not read magazines and 40% do not read a printed newspaper.
  • In Canada, 42% of online consumers do not read magazines and 28% do not read a printed newspaper.
  •  In the U.K., 36% of online consumers do not read magazines and 33% do not read a printed newspaper.
  •  In France, 31% of online consumers do not read magazines and 28% do not read a printed newspaper.
  •  In Japan, 29% of online consumers do not read magazines and 24% do not read a printed newspaper.
  •  In Germany, 28% of online consumers do not read magazines and 26% do not read a printed newspaper.
  •  In China, 5% of online consumers do not read magazines and 6% do not read a printed newspaper.    

The study also measures several key aspects of consumers' use of the Internet, from media consumption patterns, to the degree of adoption of various digital behaviors, to involvement with online social networking. Now in its second year, the Index has expanded to include 48 percent of the global online population, spanning France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Japan and the United States.  

Dave Senay, Fleishman-Hillard president and chief executive officer, says "... our survey provides overwhelming evidence that the Internet is at the center of the decision-making process of consumers..."

The Digital Influence Index reveals the following nine key insights into the Internet's global influence on consumers' lives:  

  • Globally, digital dominates in influence but not marketing dollars spent.
  • The Internet plays an even more critical role in China, home to the world's largest and fastest-growing population of online consumers.  
  • The Internet plays an integral role in the decision-making process for research, purchases and peer influence
  • As more users embrace social media and generate content, a consensus is emerging that people share too much personal information
  • People trust the Internet most when they have multiple sources, and a friend is one of them
  • Internet users report a lack of trust in content produced by sponsored or paid bloggers 
  • Microbloggers trust companies that listen and respond in real time.

·      Mobile users snap up smartphones but realize only a fraction of smartphone potential. A significant gap exists between the capabilities available and the number of individuals who actually take advantage of them

To download a complimentary copy of the Digital Influence Index white paper from Fleishman Hillard, please visit here.  



1 comment about "The Internet Is Most Influential Worldwide".
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  1. Marc Fathauer from Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, July 13, 2010 at 12:49 p.m.

    US figures (internet ?1% / email ?4% seem whack. Also, what's up with the ?s

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