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The latest UKOM figures show that the UK online audience has grown by 1.9 million, which means that 38.8 million people now have access to the Internet.
As with the offline population, the Internet audience is ageing. 31% of all users are now over 50, serving to highlight just how diverse online audiences have become. Of these, over a million accessed the Internet for the first time in the last year (that’s 53% of all new users); so is this the rise of the silver surfer?
Well it’s certainly a good start. For businesses targeting older customers, the Internet shouldn’t be seen as an unnecessary endeavour. The audience is out there. Currently sites such as Saga, RealAge, Flixxy and even Lurpak are benefiting from this surging demographic [source: A million over 50s log on for first time | PC Advisor]
Online audiences have been helped by the broadening array of devices that are Internet-enabled. Smartphones, netbooks and your standard PC allow users to get online with ever-increasing speed. Computer companies have also recognised the unique needs of older consumers, creating a range of products that cater for their requirements.
Businesses like SimplicITy have tapped into growing interest from older users, creating stripped down PCs that are easier to use. There is also training available from a number of sources, helping to educate people who may otherwise have never ventured online. All these initiatives are pushing more and more people onto the Internet.
A look into past UKOM figures highlights some other interesting statistics for online businesses and marketers. Unsurprisingly, the peak time for users is between 16:00 and 17:00, with 72% of the online audience accessing sites during this period.
From a search point of view it is interesting to see that whilst Google is the most visited, attracting 33.9 million users; but in terms of time spent on the site itself is only equal with Microsoft properties and along way behind Facebook, which hogs an 18% share of the total hours spent online.
Whilst audience statistics can sometimes be skewed, they are a good way of gauging the best times, places and demographics to target. UKOM, or UK Online Measurement, are a Nielsen property which makes them a reasonable authority in the field.
So what do these particular figures tell us? Well, the Internet has a growing audience, more of whom are 50+. This presents an opportunity for etailers and other businesses to develop their online audience. If you market yourself effectively, you can reach an unprecedented growing Internet community.