Digital trends 2019: Every single stat you need to know about the internet

We Are Social and Hootsuite’s latest collection of Global Digital reports reveals that internet users are growing by an average of more than one million new users every day, with all of the original ‘Next Billion Users’ now online.

The number of people using the internet has surged over the past year, with more than one million people coming online for the first time each day since January 2018. It’s not just internet users that have been growing either, as the extensive new collection of Digital 2019 reports from Hootsuite and We Are Social reveals.

Now, just before we get started with all those numbers, you may want to go grab a coffee and get comfortable. There’s a huge amount of information to digest in the 8,800 words below — I’ll cover global internet penetration, amount of users and internet speeds, global social media usage, numbers for each major social media platform, status of ecommerce, etc. —  so you’ll want to take your time to make sense of it all.

We’ll explore all of the key trends and insights from this year’s reports in detail in this article, but here are the essential headlines you need in order to understand ‘Digital in 2019’:</p>

  • There are 5.11 billion unique mobile users in the world today, up 100 million (2 percent) in the past year.
  • There are 4.39 billion internet users in 2019, an increase of 366 million (9 percent) versus January 2018.
  • There are 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, with the worldwide total growing by 288 million (9 percent) since this time last year.
  • 3.26 billion people use social media on mobile devices in January 2019, with growth of 297 million new users representing a year-on-year increase of more than 10 percent

With thousands of charts across more than 200 global and local reports, this year’s Global Digital series is one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date studies of today’s connected world. We’ll be publishing the local country reports in stages over the coming days over on DataReportal – our dedicated reports library – but this article and the SlideShare embed above distil the essential headlines, trends, and insights you need in order to make sense of digital in 2019.

<span>Before we get into the analysis though, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the wonderful data partners who’ve made this year’s series of reports possible, in particular:</spa

OK… all set for those numbers?

Internet users in 2019

I’m sure I say this every year, but 2018 really was another year of impressive growth across all things digital. However, perhaps the most compelling story in this year’s numbers is that internet user growth actually <span< span=””>>accelerated</span<> in the past year, with more than 366 million new users coming online since we published our Digital 2018 reports.

Our latest internet data – collected and synthesized from a wide variety of reputable sources – shows that internet users are growing at a rate of more than 11 new users per second, which results in that impressive total of one million new users each day. It’s worth noting that some of this growth may be attributable to more up-to-date reporting of user numbers, but that doesn’t detract from the implications of this growth.

We’re particularly encouraged to see that a significant proportion of this year’s growth has come from developing economies, with countries that previously suffered from lacklustre internet penetration posting some strong gains as we start 2019.

The standout story here is India, which has seen internet users jump by almost 100 million in the past 12 months, representing annual growth of more than 20 percent. Internet penetration in th>e South Asian country now stands at roughly 41 percent – a considerable improvement over the 31 percent that we reported this time last year.

These big numbers mean that India is responsible for more than a quarter of this year’s total global growth. Overall, Asia-Pacific delivered 55 percent of the annual growth figure, with China adding another 50 million new users in the past year.

Perhaps surprisingly though, the United States takes third spot in our global ranking of absolute internet user growth. Despite already enjoying an internet penetration rate of 88% this time last year, internet users in the US grew by almost nine percent year-on-year, reaching a total of more than 310 million users in January 2019 (95 percent penetration).

Meanwhile, African nations dominate the list of countries with the fastest growing internet communities, although many of these countries start from relatively small bases. Western Sahara saw the grspan>n additional 2.3 million new users trnt-c9481bd1-9a23-149a-fd50-13d1a9aa413f” class=”textannotation”>anslating to annual growth of more than 60 percent. Encouragingly, Cuba has also witnessed strong social media growth this textannotation”>-9fce3ff5947e” class=enhancement-7d6aa5a5-450e-507e-75fc-fe4a7e1d796c” class=”textannotation”>”textannotation”>year, despite internet access remaining a challenge across the country.

al-2019-Global-Overview-Images-v01-Slide-72-Social-Growth-Ranking-Relative-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>China added the greatest number of new social media users over the pasclass=”textannotation”>3e2-251a-62f3-9580-71f9caa2d1a1″ class=”textannotation”>t 12 months, with the country’s tota=”urn:enhancement-e10bf70b-dce2-b823-8ae6-910b772cf717″ class=”textannotation”>l rising by close to 100 million new users since this t<span id=”urn:enhancement-84c9103f-1e77-c436-ad27-f1065d6c6b63″ class=”textannotation”>ime last year. The latest data suggest that more than 1 billion people in China now use sociass=”textannotation”>al media, although we suspn>ect that this figure is somewhat inflated by duplicate<span id=”urn:enhancement-a9d4dc23-c9d0-a381-5b35-70d1113eb1cf” class=”textannotation”> accounts. India also saw strong growth, with more than 60 million users signing up td28c-ef9b-1174325c0352″ class=”textannotation”>textannotation”>o 860a4″ class=”textannotation”>socpan>ial media for the first time during 2018. </s

Meanwhile, despite a flurry of restrictions on social media platforms intion”>l into double digits, and even official government sources have reported strong growth.

The five-year growth figures for social media users are even more striking than those for internet use, with the global social media user total almost doubling since our Digital 2014 reports. This year’s total of 3.49 billion is also just over 2 billion higher than the 1.48 billion we reported in our first Global Digital report back in January 2012.

The global social media audience has also matured considerably during that time, with people around the age of 30 now accounting for the largest share of the world’s social media users. Senior audiences are now <span id=”urn:enhancement-cc830500-</sc114-ef16-3c2c-95afe2570e0b” class=”textannotation”>better repre2804-90c2-3185-6805-cffd15037a1b” class=”textannotation”>-7606-4dc3-ff2a-9a7fcdfbdfad” class=”textannotation”>sented too, and Facebook’s various platforms report a greater number of users over the age of 55 than users below the age of 18.

-74-Social-Audience-Age-Profile-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>There’s still a meaningful gender imbalance across overall social media audiences too, but – as we’ll see below – this varies markedly at the individual platform level. In general, countries with the lowest overall social media penetration are also those countries with the greatest male skew.

While these figures are specific to social media users, they>’re likely representative of broader internet use too, which suggests that women suffer from poor levels of internet access in many parts of the developing world. As an essential resource for educaf2-876a-e799-b640d1d20de9″ class=”textannotation”>tion, financial inclusion, employment, and empowerment, ensuring more equal internet access for women must be a priority for the next phase of internet development.

e-1183830″ src=”×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”

w-Images-v01-Slide-77-Time-Spent-Social-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>The amount of time that people spend on social media each day hasannotation”> grown considerably over the past 5 years too, ce9c-91f0-e190-1513-38fa83713746″ class=”textannotation”>id=”urn:enhancement-ee66d367-2ffc-3889-10a1-408db3f0ba26″ class=”textannotation”>8-577066578fee” class=”textannotation”>with the average user now spending 40 minutes – and 40 percent – longer e621bec34a9c3″ class=”textannotation”>-cc34-67a80b081cf4″ class=”textannotation”>ach day on social compared to this time in 2014.

iles/2019/01/25-Digital-2019-Global-Overview-Images-v01-Slide-78-Evolution-of-Time-Spent-Social-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>However, not all of that time is spent ‘being sociable’. Data from GlobalWe<span id=”urn:enhancement-faba4208-6b56-eb66-570f-d9ca2c9ac0fb” class=”textannotation”>bIndex shows that 98 percent of interne6e98-72ba-be35d25b49d5″ class=”textannotation”>t users in the world’s top economies visited a social media platform in the past month, but just 83 percent actively engaged with – or contributed to – those platforms.</s

Meanwhile, the average user now h“>as an account on almost nine social media platf0ef2-a54e-9619d43588ea” class=”textannotation”>682-495c-5649-65ef06b18d5d” class=”textannotation”>orms, bd=”urn:enhancement-fef78e15-6d60-6780-198c-1bf2f527eda9″ class=”textannotation”>ut they don’t necessarily engage with every one of these accounts each month. People are also increasingly using social media for work activities, with almost a quarter of users saying they’ve done so in the past month. If we extend this average to the total number of social media userslass=”textannotation”> around the world, the data suggest that more than 800 million people are using social media fo60d69f” class=”textannotation”>r work today.

urn:enhancement-6e6e2954-667d-5c3e-d914-5a320928bbcf” class=”textannotation”>tal-2019-Global-Overview-Images-v01-Slide-76-Social-Media-Behaviours-796×448.png”>

Top social media platforms in 2019

Despite a troubling year in 2018, Facebook maintains its top platform ranking in early 2019, and – contrary to ongoing media hyst1b-627c-838b-c3ac-ee5d79995dca” class=”textannotation”>eria – there’s little evidence to suggest that people are leaving the platform in any significant numbers.

rview-Images-v01-Slide-81-Top-Social-Platforms-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>In fact, Facebook’s monthly active users (MAU) numbers grew steadily across the past 12 months, and the platform’s latest earnings announcement reports year-on-year user growth of almost 10 percent. The platform’s five-year growth chart lotion”>oks pretty impressive too.

There are some signs that people are using F

Twitter had a disappointing year in 2018, and the platform starts 2019 down 4 million users versus this time last year. However, China’s Sina Weibo has proven that microblogging definitely isn’t dead, with the platform reporting user growth of almost 20 percent over the course=”urn:enhancement-864093f6-6e49-d010-6f50-4ceaaff10574″ class=”textannotation”>xtannotation”> of the past 12 months. If current growth trends conte7128e47-4b21-6bfb-9898-4e9d00d21926″ class=”textannotation”>inue, Weibo looks set to pass the 500 million user mark in the second half of 2019.

Twitter isn’t alone in its suffering, though; the latest active user data from Snapchat shows that the platform’s user base is in stnt-5d9a116f-2759-e673-77fe-2f5385a57c89″ class=”textannotation”>cement-a8c5afc6-ce3e-e787-f73c-efd1e03bbf97″ class=”textannotation”>eady decline, while the platform’s advertising audience has seen significant drops in recent months, as we’ll explore in more detail below.

Looking more closely at messaging apps, Zuck and team continue to dominate the worldwide landscape, with the latest data from SimilarWeb showing that either WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger is the most-used app in 208 out of a total of 234 countries and territories for which they have data.

Viber seems to have maintained its focussed popularity since last year, with the messaging platform the top choice for Android users in 10 countries across the globe. However, despite dominance in their home countries, both Wspan>platform – rather than overall monthly active user (MAU) numbers –&nbsp;because these advertising audience figures ad=”urn:enhancement-7e9b6d64-8eb4-afbb-4f1b-1350b9f3ac47″ class=”textannotation”>re updated more frequently, and are easier to compare on a like-for-like basis across platforms.

You’ll find the key headlines in the chart below, but read on for a closer inspection of each platform’s latest numbers.

ir/1/files/2019/01/31-Digital-2019-Global-Overview-Images-v01-Slide-84-Social-Platform-Ad-Audience-Overview-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>

1. Facebook

As we noted above, the cold, hard data show that Facebook hasn’t experienced any of the dramatic user declines that the media continue to portend. In reality, Facebook user numbers continue to grow around the world, with the platform adding 18 million new users to its ad8dbaa87941″ class=”textannotation”>e-3e7ead520086″ class=”textannotation”>dressable advertising audience in Q4 of 2018 alone.

t=”448″ data-mce-src=”″ class=”textannotation”>b5-f228-4c6e-6311-10f2fd67e33e” class=”textannotation”>lide-86-Facebook-Overview-796×448.png”>However, it’s not all good news in Menlo Park. Facebook’s advertising audience did lose 10 million users aged 13 to 17 in the last 3 months of 2018, although it made up for this loss with an equivalent gain in the number of users over the age of 55.

6×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>With an an>ddressable advertising audience of more than 300 million active users, India is now firmly establia903400af” class=”textannotation”>shed as Facebook’s top market, and the platform added 50 million new users in the country in past year alone. Users in The Philippines were up by 2 million in the past 3 months too, and up by 8 million in the full year to January 2019.

96×448.png”>So, what about the purported ‘mass Facebook exodus’? The latest figures do reveal some drops in the addressable advertising audience in some territories, but nothing like what the media would have us believe. What’s more, these figures need to be taken in the context of the broader growth story across Facebook’s total worldwide audience. To help you form your own perspective without clickbait and hysteria, here are Facebook’s “biggest losers” over the past 3 months:


>Rather than steep drops in user numbers, Facebook’s more wo“textannotation”>lass=”textannotation”>rrying trend is falling engagement. We started to explore this story on”>data/”>back in Julyrn:enhancement-a70f62bd-e08f-0e16-fe45-a23613b1aa6c” class=”textannotation”>pan id=”urn:enhancement-9b76241b-bf48-b35a-6895-409456ee63eb” class=”textannotation”>span>, but the latest data from Facebookass=”textannotation”>b412″ class=”textannotation”>annotation”>’s own tools show that these downward trends are continuing.

The median number of posts ‘liked’ by the typical Facebook user has fallen bynt-754ecffb-3d6a-7072-32e3-c1edf5eeecce” class=”textannotation”>enhancement-5cba2166-b3f0-99c2-c130-45e961fddc49″ class=”textannotation”> 10 percent in the past 6 months, and now stands at 9 per month. Perhaps even more worryingly for Facebook, the numbfb-35f1-aae9662273be” class=”textannotation”>er of times people click on adverts on Facebook is also falling. The global median still stands at 8 adverts clicked per month, but the detail by gender shows that men and women are both clicking on fewer adverts today than they were back in July.

//”>ntent/blogs.dir/1/files/2019/01/36-Digital-2019-Global-Overview-Images-v01-Slide-97-Facebook-Activities-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>However, the advertising revenue figures reported in Facebook’s latest earnings announcements continue to show steady growth. So what’s going on?

Our assessment is that Facebook’s ad-price bidding model means that, on average, advertisers are paying more for each advert, so the drop in the number of ad clicks has been more than offset by the incremental revenue that Facebook earns from each of those clicks.

This hypothesis is borne out by the latest data from Locowise, who report that the number of Facebook pages investing in paid media has grown by more than 3 percent since On”>ctober.

-Facebook-Reach-Benchmarks-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>This increase in media spend is likely correlated to the steady declines in average organic reach and engagement that we’ve been reporting in partnership with Locowise since our Digital 2018 reports last January.

The latest data in this series show that average organic reach is down by 2.3 percent – or 14 ><id=”urn:enhancement-e572f7ef-6770-799c-9a41-07ff837ea8a5″ class=”textannotation”>span>basis points – since October. Similarly, average engagement with Facebook page posts is also down by more than 2 percent in the past three months, with fewer than 4 people in every 100 who see a Facebook page’s post engaging with it in some way.×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>It’s worth highlighting that Locowise’s data represents averages across tens of thousands of different pages, of all ‘shapes and sizes’. So, because of the way in which we believe the Facebook algorithm id=”urn:enhancement-eb14bad1-eb4c-27bf-2431-f816cf532ad9″ class=”textannotation”>=”textannotation”> works, larger pages will see much lower levels of organic reach and engagement compared to the figures repor6-7484-b225-a146-909b75ea85c3″ class=”textannotation”>ted above.

For example, there are some clear differences when we compare results for pages with fewer than 10,000 ‘fans’ to pages with more than 100,000 fans:×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>Once again though, these figures are averages across a variety of different pages, and the data show clear differences from one page to another. For example, the Facebook pages of d=”urn:enhancement-a162ebda-1b78-9e00-2c30-34239a8705c1″ class=”textannotation”>popular celebrities tend to enjoy higher levels of oon”>er brands with similar numbers of fans.

Talking of large Facebook pages, Facebook’s own page is the most-lcement-464cac65-a46b-4347-4a5a-902c28e2346b” class=”textannotation”>iked property on the platform in January 2019, with more than 200 million ‘fans’. Samsung takes seco”>nd spotspan> globally, with the Korean brand’s fan page amassing almost 160 million fans by the time of publication.

<ancement-4519d3ec-5c16-01a3-12ba-4af98b04ed0a” class=”textannotation”>ss=”textannotation”>p>Just three consumer brands make it into the ranking of the top 20 Facebook pages tho<s< span=””>pan id=”urn:enhancement-d6e3db33-2379-6dce-babb-97a0c0e245e4″ class=”textannotation”>ugh: Sam</s<>sung, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s. The rest of the list is dominated by musicians, sports teams and players, and actors. This should make for interesting reading for marketers, who need to see their activities and content in the context of the broader Facebook ‘experiend=”urn:enhancement-493854ec-e5d5-9afd-83b3-2b615aba52a4″ class=”textannotation”>ce’.

alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>These findings reinforce the fact that Facebook users aren’t going to Facebook just to see your ads (surprise!). People’s primary motivations for using Facebook remain staying in touch with friends and family, and these activities accounts for the lion’s share of the time that people spend on the platform.

People do engage with brand content too, of coadc72f45595″ class=”textannotation”>=”urn:enhancement-0e8d4b79-c1da-8548-e61f-89c9dd20ecc5″ class=”textannotation”>urse, but – with more than 80 million small and medium-sized businesses publishing pages to Facebook at the ti=”urn:enhancement-037a05c7-9e96-a837-a0a2-7037bfc59505″ class=”textannotation”>me of writing – it’s increasingly difficult for brands to stand out, especially as l” data-mce-href=””>the amount of time people spend on the platform decreases.

The key takeaway here is hiding in plain sight: people engage with the things that they’re most interested in. That might sound like a glib statement of the obvious, but marketers must recognize that no amount of Facebook media investment will make their content more interesting, or more engaging.

The low-down: if you want to succeed with Facebook marketing, you need to give peoplass=”textannotation”>07″ class=”textannotation”>e more of what they want, and less of your brand’s corporate propaganda (you’ll find more on that at the end of this article).

2. Instagram

Our conversations with marketers all over the world in recent months indicate that Instagram will be a top choice for brands in 2019, so it’s worth spending a bit of time exploring what the platform’s audience looks like. We’ll be pu class=”textannotation”>blishing detailed Instagram insights for more than 200 territories over the coming days in our local country reports, but here are the global headlines.

Despite some <span< span=””>>leadership hurdles</span<> in 2018, Instagram posted some strong numbers over the past 12 months. Back in June, the company announced that it had passed the 1 billion ‘active accounts’ mark, and although the company later clarified that this figure did not represent unique users, the milestone was no ltion”>ess impressive.

The platform’s latest advertising audience figures show that this strong performance has co<sp< span=””>an id=”urn:enhancement-80cff181-e766-81c2-26b4-f1f0b4d588f2″ class=”textannotation”>ntinued into 2019, with active users growing by </sp<>more than four percent in the past 3 months to r

g wp-image-1183849″ src=”×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>However, this figure does not include user numbers for some countries that have sizeable Instagram audiences, but which are not available to advertisers as targeting locations. Perhaps the most interesting of these ‘unavailable countries’ is Iran.

Despite regular speculation that it will be blocked inclass=”textannotation”>0c1b” class=”textannotation”>rn:enhancement-e6e61d53-a631-b887-30bf-97d0a9c83f6f” class=”textannotation”> the country, Instaid=”urn:enhancement-f484f56f-0b3d-40be-e058-b98e74dec530″ class=”textannotation”>gram remains one of the top social platforms in the country. The latest analysis from Techrasa and Niki Aghaei suggests that the platform now has more than 32 milli

w-Images-v01-Slide-112-Instagram-Eligible-Rankings-796×448.png”>Instagram’s user base may be less than half thencement-3eb66a00-3cf7-ee7b-c668-68b4247313f8″ class=”textannotation”>”> size of Facebook’s, but In<span id=”urn:enhancement-44291eb4-d9f5-59b5-ade6-96c04347d8e7″ class=”textannotation”>stagram has added more than twice as many new users</span><s< span=””>pan> as Facebook in the past three months. The platform saw its total global advertising audience increase by more than </s<><stextannotation”>-c7f8-20c2-9820527a6593″ class=”textannotation”>pan>38 million new </susers in Q4 2018, compared to Facebook’s growth of 18 million new users in the same time period.

Instagram’s growin<span id=”urn:enhancement-b0a231d6-b471-87ac-d0bb-80f7058361ef” class=”textannotation”>g popular</sity among marketers isn’t just down to a growing user base, either; the platform also boasts a well-balanced audience profile. Globally, Instagram users are split roughly 50:50 between women and men, and – while the average age still skews younger than Facebook – Instagram has a higher inc6f57c5fa-4952-a29d-6739-e2e6f0857d24″ class=”textannotation”>idence of users

Instagram82-65a34ed7b6ff” clas

Instagram is also popular in a numbe<sp< span=””>an id=”urn:enhancement-21f17730-02b3-66d3-3103-ee09f77f46b4″ class=”textannotation”>r of countries where Facebook has struggled to gain traction against lxtannotation”>ocal favorites. In particular, Instagram has gained a sizeable – and growing – audience in Russia, and this trend is mirrored in a number of Eastern Europeas=”textannotation”>8″ class=”textannotation”>n and Central Asian countries.</sp<>

Insta>gram’s advertising audience has now outgrown Facebook’s in 20 countries around the world, and we expect this number to increase during 2019 as Instagram’s popula0-96ca-c205-80b7-8d57650e5f6f” class=”textannotation”>rity comes to the fore. However, it’s worth noting that the latest data suggest consumer brands still have some work to do when it comes to engaging their audiences on Insta5fa-aeeb-78a5-b96bfe302d1f” class=”textannotation”>gram.

Just one consumer brand – Nike – makes Instagram’s top 20 ‘most-followed’ list, with the remaining spots dominated by celebrities. Keen-eyed readers will also notice that the Kardashian clan account for four of these top 20 accounts, so Instagram will need to be careful to avoid triggering another Snapchat-Kylie-Jenner moment</span>.

<h2>3.</h Twitter

<>span>2018 was less favorable to Twitter, who reported declines in global active users in their two past class=”textannotation”>”><span>earnings announcements. This downward trend is clearly visible in the platform’s advertising audience numbers too, which indicate that Twitter’s total addressable audience has fallen by 1.5 percent since October. Twitter’s advertising audience also skew” class=”textannotation”>”aligncenter size-featured_img wp-image-1183855″ src=”×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”>rn:enhancement-ad333f64-160d-4ed7-a2d3-3a2f0e975d05″ class=”textannotation”>9-Global-Overview-Images-v01-Slide-116-Twitter-Overview-796×448.png”>However, it’s important to compare these negative trends in active user numbers with some other, equally relevant data.

Twitter has grown to become a platform of choice for various influential figures around the world, from presidents and prime ministers, to some of the world’s top journalists. Crucially though, observers do not need to have a Twitter account to3-f03b-8b4cb17af032″ class=”textannotation”>f0b5-a7bd-092e-22a0fef7432d” class=”textannotation”> access all of the content that these people post to the platform, and this is where some broader data provide a very different story of Twitter’s success compared to its earnings announcements.

While the number of ‘registered’ users engaging with the platform appears to be falling, overall visitor traffic to has actually been increasing over recent months. SimilarWeb’s latest data suggest that attracted more than 670 million unique visitors in December 2018, reflecting month-on-month growth of more than 4 percent.

These figures suggest that total visitors to are considerably more than double the platform’s total addressable advertising audience. These 67nhancement-589755a1-518d-91f0-9fa9-10177bf60433″ class=”textannotation”>tation”>utes on the site each visit, so it’s clear that they’re not simply stopping in to read one or two tweets.

Interpreting these numbers, it a<span id=”urn:enhancement-0be8518f-168b-67d8-a889-d36262ff5e3a” class=”textannotation”>ppears that Twitter’s primary problem isn’t necessarily the appeal of its platform, but rather its business model. Crucially, because people can access id=”urn:enhancement-8fd8f90c-c2b3-907b-c7e2-e6819e8fb85c” class=”textannotation”>much of Twitter’s value without needing to log in, the company’s primary revenue source (ad placem>ents targeting logged-in users) appears to be out of sync with the company’s primary asset (hundreds of millions of visitors, regardless of whether they’re logged in).>

<span< span=””>>My assessment is that this makes Twitter a highly attractive target for a media company who can make better sense of the potential value residing in these non-logged-in visitors. A Twitter acquisition has been on the cards for many years now, b

While it’s unclear whether the two numbers are correlated, it’s worth noting that the drop of 41 million uson”>ers in Snapchat’s advertising audience over the past thr</span>ee months closely aligns to Instagram’s growth

atured_img wp-image-1183857″ src=”×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>The story in Snapchat’s home market is less comforting, though. The platform has lost one in every seven of its US advertising audience since October 2018, and Snapchat’s total advertising audience in the country has now dropped below 100 million.

My assessment of these numbers is that what previously made Snapchat appealing may also be contributing to its present declines. The platform has consistently appeared to focus on younger users – particular148c-8c03-fa3a8458250f” class=”textannotation”>3cc-64ee-926d-84efbb47c795″ class=”textannotation”>ly those in the 13 to 24 year-old age bracket. However, people in these age groups tend to be more fickle in their social media behaviors, and while this targeted approach may have served Snapchat well in previous years, the platform seems to be struggling to maintain its appeal amongst its core audiences.

Crucially, Instagram now boasts almost twice as many users as Snapchat in the sa”>me age bracket – and Instagram’s numbers are still growing. Furthermore, unlike Twitter, there’s ltion”>ittle evidence in other data to htation”>“textannotation”>s the globe.

<p6b7114-0204-93b7-d165-f6e031b47e4a” class=”textannotation”>>

obal-Overview-Images-v01-Slide-134-LinkedIn-Overview-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>LinkedIn has also seen strong growth across individual countries in recent months. The largest percentage change is in Myanmar, where the platform added roughly 80,000 new users in the past three months. LinkedIn has also delivered strong growth across many parts of developing Africa, but it’s worth noting that the overall audience sizes in nt-89d8fdbb-a00b-2a17-7e4f-8b5181a2c2ac” class=”textannotation”>many of these countries is still relatively small.

LinkedIn is also growing in many developed markets, despite starting from a strong base. The company’s latest advertising data show that useass=”textannotation”>rs grew by 14 percent in Japan in the past quarter, and by 13 percent in both South Korea and Singapore, despite the latter already ranking in LinkedIn’s top 20 countries by eligible penetration (note that we’re using adults aged 18+ for LinkedIn’s eligible audience, rather than the 13+ we’ve used for the other platforms).

6. YouTube

The world’s favorite video platform doesn’t share in-depth insights into its advertising audiences, but this year’s reports include some other YouTube data points that m<span id=”urn:enhancement-b062a500-2488-f06c-6467-11de45df4f79″ class=”textannotation”>arketers will find useful.

Much of this data points to the fact that music is the top draw for YouTube audiences, especially in the platform’s high-growth markets. Music-related topics accounted for half of the top 20 search queries for on YouTube during 2018, with users in Thailand searching so frequently for music-related content that the local word for ‘song’ – เพลง96360c97d5″ class=”textannotation”>> –&nbsp;appears at number 13 in the global top 20 rankings.pan>

<s< span=””>pan>Movies and ‘TV content’ accounted for much of the rest of the list, but it’s worth noting that the games Fortnite and Minecraft both attracted huge volumes of interest on YouTube throughout 2018.</p></s<>


Music videos account for nine out of YouTube’s ten all-time most-watched videos, with Despacito amassing close to 6 billion total views by the time of writing. PewDiePie retains top spot in the global YouTube account rankings, but – as has been reported tation”>//″ data-mce-href=”″>widely” data-mce-href=””>in the media, and to the alarm of legions of PewDiePie fans – he’s at risk of losing this mantle to T-Series, an Indian music label and movie studio.

7. Other platforms

Unfortunately, WeChat, LINE, and VKontakte all declined our requests for more detailed insights into their worldwide audiences, so we’re unable to provide any richer insights for these platforms beyond headline user numbers. As always though, I’m hopeful that343b058c44d8″ class=”textannotation”> this situation may change, so if anyone from those companies is reading this and would like to share data for future on“>reports, please <span< span=””>>get in touch</span<>.

Mobile users in 2019

The number of people around the world who use a mobile phone increased by 100 million in 2018, with the global total reaching more than 5.1 billion users by January 2019. This figure brings worldwide mobile penetration to 67 percent – more than two-thirds of the total global population.

Sadly, Google hasn’t published an update to its Consumer Barometer study in the past year, so we’re unable to report new data for unique 26cd21b7-e777-91d7-bf31-87e39cf45476″ class=”textannotation”>mobile users by 8409-984c-680e-40b2-6825f3a329be” class=”textannotation”>country. However, we do have all the latest numbers for mobile connections around the world, thanks to GSMA Intelligence. It’s worth noting that GSMA Intelligence has revised its figures since last year though, so the numbers in this year’s report won’t be directly comparable to those we reported in our Digital 2018 reports.

In particular, the figure for uniqua3-a71f-749d-a729-96e9bb9e6ff9″ class=”textannotation”>e mobian>le users we’re quoting this year is lower than the number we published last year, but –&nbsp;based on GSMA Intelligenc

” data-mce-src=””>se today versus this time last year.

Close to 2.5 billion ‘feature phone’ handsets are still in use around the world though, while connections associated with PCs, tablets, and mobile routers have reached 270 million.

png”>The percentage of mobile connections that can be classed as ‘broadband’ – i.e. 3G and above – has increased significantly since early 2018, with a relative year-on-year increase of more than 16 percent. Almost half of all mobile connections

.dir/1/files/2019/01/57-Digital-2019-Global-Overview-Images-v01-Slide-165-Mobile-Connections-by-Type-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>Three-quarters of the world’s mobile users pay for their connections via top-ups rather than paying by monthly installments, down slightly from the 76 percent we report-c6baee1c-1508-1ece-efc5-c7ee6c995da3″ class=”textannotation”>ncement-acab9cd1-f628-8a5e-0aa5-e1092925eb0a” class=”textannotation”>ed this time last year. However, the picture varies from one extreme to the other across the globe.

” class=”textannotation”>re-Paid-vs-Post-Paid-796×448.png”>Total mobile connections have continued to grow steadily over the past 5 years, with operators activating more than 2.2 billion new connections during that time. However, with the rollout of new 5G networks over the next few years, industry experts predict that connection growth will start to accelerate as the demand for IoT connections increases.

Mobile activities in 2019

With roughly 5.5 billion smartphones in use across the world today, it’s little surprise that the mobile app market is booming. The latest data from App Annie<span> show that app downloads increased by nine percent over the past 12 months, reaching close to 200 billion total downloads for full-year 2018.

What’s more, people are spending considerably more on apps too. App Annie reports that the world’s smartphone users spent more than $ 100 billion USD on apps in 2018 alone. Comparing this against the number of smartphones in use around the world that Ericsson reports for 2018, this would mean that the average smartpclass=”textannotation”>hone user now spends more than $ 20 USD on apps each year, and this figure is even higher in more developed economies.

183868″ src=”×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>Mobile games continue to dominate app stores, with the category achieving top spot for both downloads and revenues across both the Google Play and iOS stores in 2018. Many of the local reports in our broader Digital 2019 suite offer detailed insights into top apps by country, but here are the top global apps and games by monthly active users for full-year 2018:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this surge in app usagclass=”textannotation”>e has also contributed to a significant increase in the amount of mobile data we consume. Ericsson’s latest //″ data-mce-href=”″>Mobility Report shows that the world now consumes more than 20 billion gigabytes of mobile data each month, w5d8-f34e6c1cf318″ class=”textannotation”>82-9649095139cf” class=”textannotation”>hile data in the company’s <spa< span=””>n>Mobility” class=”textannotation”>bd383f23a84″ class=”textannotation”> Visualizer tool</spa<> indicates that the average smartphone device now consumes <s< span=””>pan id=”urn:enhancement-15a1648d-56f9-dfdb-cd4a-05ab4a408014″ class=”textannotation”>alm</s<>ost 7GB of mobile data every month.>

0″ src=”×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>Still with me? Phew. I warned you this would be a long one.

Ecommerce users in 2019

We’ll finish this year’s analysis on another high point. The latest data from Statista’s Digital Market Outlook studies show that e-commerce spend has grown by 14 percent year-on year, with the company estimating that full-year 2018 spend on consumer goods alone topped US$ 1.78 trillion.

t/blogs.dir/1/files/2019/01/63-Digital-2019-Global-Overview-Images-v01-Slide-198-E-Commerce-Consumer-Goods-796×448.png” alt=”” width=”796″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>It’s important to note that Statista has revised all of its ecommerce data since our Digital 2018 reports, so – once again – these numbers will not be directly comparable to the figures in last year’s reports. However, the good news is that Statista has also shared updated data on annual growth, so we ca

The number of ecommerce users has also grown considerably since last year, with Statista reporting that more than 2.8 billion people around the world now shop online. These shoppers are spending more money too, with the latest global average revenue per user figures (ARPU) up by more than 10 percent year-on-year to reach $ 634 USD.

Ecommerce tation”>penetration is still quite varied around the world though, and there is still plenty of room for growth in some of the world’s biggest economies. GlobalWebIndex reports that 74 percent of Indian internet users say they have purchased something online in the past month, but with internet penetration in the country hovering just above 40 percent, there are still hundreds of millions of people across the country who have yet to join the ecommerce revolution.

Digging a bit deeper into the ecommerce data, we’ve compared the latest ARPU figures to GDP per capita, making it easier to get a sense of how important ecommerce is across different countries. The standout story in this comparison is China, where people spend more than 7 percent of GDP per capita online.

Meanwhile, data from Worldpay’s recent Global Payments Report allow us to look at ecommerce spend in the context of broader retail spend. We’ve combined the figures Worldpay have reported for both ecommerce and offline point-of-sale spends to create a proxy for ‘total retail spend’, which we can use to understand ecommerce’s overall share.

As you might expect, the figures vary considerably from one country to another, but those individual numbers make for insightful reading. It’s particularly interesting to note that – despite the strength of ecommerce in China – the country isn’t even in the top 10 in this list.

The local picture

Just before I conclude with some key forecasts for the coming year, I thought you’d like to know that the full Digital 2019 suite<span> includes individual reports for more than 230 countries and territories around the world. To whet your appetite for those local reports, here’s a summary of the key headlines f>or each geography in our dataset. Don’t forget to read on below for those forecasts, though.</s

So… what’s next?

Hopefully that extensive (!) roundup of key data points has given you a thorough grasp of digital today, but let’s finish up by taking a look at the year ahead. But thation”>is isn’t a predictions piece; rather, it’s an extension of the trends that I’ve been seeing in this year’s data.

  • Voice control will increase in importance: the next phase of internet growth will come almost entirely from developing markets. However, as you can see in the chart below, many of these countries suffer from lower levels of literacy compared to the countries that dominate the internet today.

    As a result, global platforms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon will look for more user-friendly interfaces to serve these new users, and voice looks set to dominate these efforts, at least in the near term. For clarity though, this isn’t</i> a story about the rise of smart speakers in Africa; rather, it’s about a complete and revolutionary change in the way people interact with connected content and devices.

96″ height=”448″ data-mce-src=”×448.png”>

  • <b< span=””>>The social landscape will evolve: with some of thnnotation”>e world’s top social platforms losing users over extended periods, it’s likely that we’ll see some attrition and consolidation in the soci</span>al media industry over the coming months. If current downward trends continue, we can expect investors in both Twitter and Snapchat to increase pressure on those companies’ boards to accept an offer of acquisition.

    At the same time, it feels like ‘the next big innovation’ is already overdue. However, this isn’t about the move to the ‘stories’ format, much as that will inevitably be one of the biggest stories in social media in 2019. Rather, my sense is that privaxtannotation”>cy concerns, changes in people’s soe5-f389-617f-a125-031a467f306c” class=”textannotation”>cial media preferences and behaviors, and broader fatigue with existing platforms will all combrn:enhancement-eb57184f-1ac6-9132-6230-424e0c340d2a” class=”textannotation”>urn:enhancement-3413d653-4205-715f-e69f-3ee3f7974032″ class=”textannotation”>ine to inspire a series of new social platforms in 2019, perhaps making use of new innovations like Tim Berners-Lee’s” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>SOLID
    . This would fundamentally change the very fabric of business on the internet though, so expect to see plenty of resistance from the ‘Four Horsemen’.</b<>
  • Marketing as a service: looking behindtextannotation”> the scen</span>es of the brands that achieve the greatest success on the internet, it becomes apparent that many of them share something in common: they treat marketing as a service. Rather than pumping out endless corporate propaganda and trite advertising, these brands use their marketing budgets to create things of value for their audiences. Whether it’s something as simple as a valuable how-to video on YouTube, or a large scale event that puts the audience at the heart of the action, this ‘marketing as a service’ is the only antidote to ongoing media inflation and the audience shift from newsfeeds to stories.

<h2>Digging deeper<p< span=””>>If you’d like to dig deeper into the full collection of Digital 2019 reports, you’ll find every one of them for free over on, together with all of our previous reports from the past 8 years.

And if this ridiculously long post hasn’t put you off the idea of discuss=”textannotation”>extannotation”>ing these themes with me in more detail, please feel free to get in touch with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

That’s it for this year, though; I wish you all the best for your own year of impressive digital growth in 2019, and I look forward to seeing you again, same time, same place, next year.


This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

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