Online Use Continues to Grow, And So Do User Concerns

A United Kingdom annual study shows internet use continues to grow at a steady pace, while concerns by online users about email spam, scams, violent videos, cyber-bullying and hate speech have spiked. The report adds more fuel to the debate over government regulation of the internet.

A United Kingdom annual study shows internet use continues to grow at a steady pace, while concerns by online users about email spam, scams, violent videos, cyber-bullying and hate speech have spiked. The report adds more fuel to the debate over government regulation of the internet.

Internet use continues to increase. So are concerns about the Internet.

A study by Ofcom, the United Kingdom’s communications regulator, shows average UK adult time online has risen to 3 hours and 15 minutes, an increase of 7 percent per year. Its annual report, Online Nation, said user concern over the internet rose from 59 percent to 78 percent last year.

The report indicates 61 percent of adults claimed to have a potentially harmful online experience in the past year. More than three-fourths of young online users between 12 and 15 years old made the same claim.

Government regulation of the internet has become a hot topic, fueled in large part by privacy concerns and abuses linked to Facebook.  The Conversation  published a recent essay headlined, “It’s time for a new way to regulate social media platforms,” which explores various approaches, some of which are advocated by the leaders of high tech firms, to protect our digital town squares.

Government regulation of the internet has become a hot topic, fueled in large part by privacy concerns and abuses linked to Facebook. The Conversation published a recent essay headlined, “It’s time for a new way to regulate social media platforms,” which explores various approaches, some of which are advocated by the leaders of high tech firms, to protect our digital town squares.

Sharply higher rates of concern, especially about harmful content, have caught the attention of regulators, not just in the UK, but also in the United States.

Yih-Choung Teh, group director of strategy and research at Ofcom, said, “As most of us spend more time than ever online, we’re increasingly worried about harmful content – and also more likely to come across it. For most people, those risks are still outweighed by the huge benefits of the internet. And while most internet users favor tighter rules in some areas, people also recognize the importance of protecting free speech, which is one of the internet’s great strengths.” 

Spam emails top the list of potential harms experienced by internet users. Close behind are experiences with fake news, scams, offensive language, violent videos, unwelcome friend requests and offensive videos or pictures. Users also are perturbed by misleading advertising, viruses and hate speech. Social media was cited as the biggest offender.

Almost four in 10 young internet users reported encounters with offensive language, 23 percent said they experienced cyber-bullying and 20 percent had been trolled. 

Despite all that, the study showed nearly 60 percent of UK’s 44 million internet users think benefits outweigh risks. Slightly more young people agree, saying the internet makes their lives better.

Growing internet usage along with growing concerns about what happens online will surely add fuel to the debate over whether and how much the government should regulate online content.

 

What You Can Learn from a Survey about Arabic Numerals

What those Arabic numerals can reveal.

What those Arabic numerals can reveal.

Pittsburgh research firm asked 3,200 Americans whether students should learn Arabic numerals. More than 50 percent said no. 

One interpretation of that finding is half of Americans don’t realize their numbering system of 0 through 9 is based on Arabic numerals – and has been since the 13th century when an Italian mathematician concluded the Arabic decimal system was superior to Roman numerals. Another interpretation is that 56 percent of Americans have a knee-jerk reaction to the word “Arabic,” which apparently is synonymous in their minds with “Muslim.”

It is hard to find much solace in either interpretation – ignorance or prejudice. 

Shame on us for an education system that sells short the contributions of non-Europeans to world civilization. In what we refer to as Dark Ages, a Muslim-led period of discovery and innovation flourished while advancing astronomy, architecture, trade, medicine and, yes, mathematics. Algebra was derived from the Arabic al-jabir. Algorithm is taken from the name of Muslim mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi.

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The Western Renaissance sparked to life upon rediscovery of classic knowledge – as advanced by a Muslim empire that spilled into Spain and Sicily, where that Italian mathematician made a course-critical decision about Arabic numerals.

The bias against Muslims is also shameful, in part because it is based on ignorance, too. We think western civilization and Judeo-Christian tradition are responsible for the world’s progress. They are, but not exclusively. The arts of plant cultivation, animal domestication, language, writing and metallurgy were achieved in places outside of Europe and long before there was Western civilization or Judeo-Christian tradition. China has been a nation for 4,000 years, racking up its own impressive record of achievements. 

One of the greatest achievements of western civilization is the Enlightenment, which liberated thought from theocratic restraints while preserving freedom of religion. The Enlightenment led to the end of slavery, aspirations of equality and creation of democracies. The founders of the United States based a lot of mold-breaking thoughts about government by the people and inalienable rights for all. 

Which loops back to the survey findings and how it reflects on the legacy of western civilization and the ideals of nation that is a child of that civilization.

Then again, who would have thought the word “tariff” had its roots in Arabic.

 

Survey Doesn’t Confirm Reputed Pacific Northwest Cold Shoulder

By reputation, residents of the Pacific Northwest can be cold, aloof and even uninterested in forging new friendships. A new survey doesn’t exactly confirm that reputation.

By reputation, residents of the Pacific Northwest can be cold, aloof and even uninterested in forging new friendships. A new survey doesn’t exactly confirm that reputation.

A survey of Washington and Oregon respondents drew press attention this week by allegedly confirming the cold shoulder Pacific Northwest residents reputedly give to newcomers. The actual poll results aren’t quite that conclusive or simple.

The headlines blared that Pacific Northwest residents are aloof and unfriendly, but the survey data associated with the claim doesn’t really bear that out, as 59% of respondents think making friends is extremely, very or somewhat important compared to 40% who don’t. The 40% got the headline.

The headlines blared that Pacific Northwest residents are aloof and unfriendly, but the survey data associated with the claim doesn’t really bear that out, as 59% of respondents think making friends is extremely, very or somewhat important compared to 40% who don’t. The 40% got the headline.

The 2019 PEMCO Insurance survey question that produced attention-grabbing headlines asked, “Right now in your life, how important is it to you to make new friends?” Out of 1,235 responses, 40 percent said making new friends was “not important” or “not at all important.” What the headlines didn’t reflect was that 59 percent of respondents said making new friends was “extremely important,” “very important” or “somewhat important.”

Survey results were broken down between Washington (635) and Oregon (600) respondents. Washingtonians were slightly more open to making friends than the overall findings (62%-38%), while Oregonians were less friend-seeking (57%-42%). The 1 percent who didn’t know was from Oregon.

The Seattle Times story describing the survey results carried this headline: “Seattle Freeze: Forget making friends – half of Washington residents don’t even want to talk to you.” That seems quite a leap from the actual survey findings.

When you segment the findings by gender, age and family status, you get a more nuanced picture. Male respondents expressed more importance to making friends than female respondents. So did younger adults over older adults and respondents with children over respondents with no children. The most striking statistic is that Washingtonians appear more open to making friends than Oregonians. 

Another question in the survey was, “Even if it’s not important to you right now, how easy or difficult do you think it is to make friends in the city where you live.” Again, the findings weren’t all that headline-grabbing – 36 percent said making friends is “very easy” or “somewhat easy” compared to 37 percent who said it was “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult.” Twenty-five percent said it was neither easy nor difficult.

There wasn’t much statistically different in the answers of Washington and Oregon respondents. Like the previous question, younger adults and adults with children found making friends easier than older adults and adults without children. Males again said it was easier to make friends than females.

The reputation of Pacific Northwest residents as cold and aloof may be true, but these poll results don’t really confirm that. They certainly don’t back up the suggestion that people in our region don’t want to talk to non-friends or newcomers.

The survey results do substantiate that, for many people, making friends isn’t a high priority and that, for some, entering new friendships isn’t easy. We didn’t really need a headline to tell us that. 

[CFM Research is committed to integrity and objectivity in framing questions, conducting surveys with representative samples and analyzing findings fairly and accurately.]

As Telephone Surveys Fade, Online Research Remains an Option

Fewer Americans are willing to answer their phones to participate in telephone public opinion surveys, which poses a big problem for political operatives who use results to fashion campaign strategies. As pollsters scramble for alternatives, online research stands out as a viable and valuable option.

Fewer Americans are willing to answer their phones to participate in telephone public opinion surveys, which poses a big problem for political operatives who use results to fashion campaign strategies. As pollsters scramble for alternatives, online research stands out as a viable and valuable option.

Telephone surveys have been the gold standard for public opinion polling for decades. That’s about to change.

“Fewer Americans than ever are willing to pick up the phone and talk to pollsters, sending costs skyrocketing to roughly double what they were four years ago,” writes Steven Shepard on Politico.

Pollster Scott Keeter told fellow pollsters recently that telephone surveys are in “wheezing condition” and efforts to find a suitable replacement are like “a great party on the deck of the Titanic.”

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These sober assessments about the ill health of public opinion polling come on the eve of the 2020 presidential election and have many political operatives scrambling to find sources of reliable information on which to base campaign strategies. 

The slow fade of telephone surveys isn’t really news. CFM’s resident researcher, Tom Eiland, explains, “Challenges with phone surveys started with the use of caller ID and voice mail, then Do Not Call lists and really accelerated with the use of cell phones and smartphones.”  

“Telephone surveys have been a great tool that produced high-confidence findings when representative samples were achieved,” Eiland says. “However, telephone use has gone digital and polling has to adjust to that reality.”

Eiland noted CFM’s research sample designs adapted as respondent behavior changed. 

For general population and voter surveys, Eiland recommends using multi-modal sample designs. “This entails using a combination of telephone interviews and online web-based surveys,” he explained. Telephone numbers and email addresses are acquired from trusted third-party vendors to make the combined sample random.

“The trick,” Eiland said, “is to use sample quotas for demographic characteristics, such as age, gender and area, to ensure survey participants are representative of the community.”

 

Millennials Pose Unique Marketing Challenges – And Familiar Ones

Millennials, as children of the digital era, pose unique marketing challenges. However, you are more likely to engage them with online video ads and social media with videos. That said, it never hurts to know you target audience and recognize they are a moving target.

Millennials, as children of the digital era, pose unique marketing challenges. However, you are more likely to engage them with online video ads and social media with videos. That said, it never hurts to know you target audience and recognize they are a moving target.

Millennials are a moving target, so it helps to understand as much as you can about their demographics. Salesforce did the homework for you.  https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/best-practices/millenial-marketing-strategy/#

Millennials are a moving target, so it helps to understand as much as you can about their demographics. Salesforce did the homework for you. https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/best-practices/millenial-marketing-strategy/#

Marketing to Millennials is admittedly a challenge. They are as interested in car-sharing as car-buying. Owning a home is less important than being close to the action. They don’t read newspapers or watch commercial television. Their choice of channels seems to change regularly.

To get a better handle on Millennials, a real estate company commissioned a survey and discovered online video advertising is the best vehicle to engage this target audience. Not exactly a eureka moment, but it does confirm – at least for now – that online video still holds appeal.

Online video ads are not a silver bullet. According to the survey, 21 percent of the 1,100 Millennials interviewed said they engage with online video ads, contrasted to only 11 percent of people 39 years or older. Fourteen percent of Millennial respondents said they engage with social media ads with videos.

It’s worth noting, the survey indicated 31 percent of Millennial respondents say they don’t engage with online ads. More than four in 10 older adults say the same thing. That suggests Millennials are simply hard to engage with ads anywhere online.

What the survey underscores is the value of visual content. The second highest source of online engagement (17%) is social media ads with pictures. They attract the highest percentage (14%) of older adults, too.

Search engine ads work better to engage older adults (12%) than Millennials (9%). Display ads on websites and native ads don’t work that well with younger or older adults, based on survey results.

Tommy O’Shaughnessy of Clever Real Estate, which commissioned the survey, says, “In many ways, YouTube has assumed the functional role of television for Millennials. According to an eMarketer study, Millennials watch more digital video than traditional video content, making YouTube an incredibly important tool for marketers.”

He adds, “While Facebook is still the dominant social media platform and reaches the widest audience, the preferences of younger Millennials have begun shifting toward YouTube and Instagram, where video content is more readily available and more fundamental to the experience. However, despite the recent Millennial migration away from Facebook, ads run on the social networking megalith are still more likely to lead to a purchase than ads run on any other platform.” The migration of Millennials from Facebook appears to be tied to growing concerns about its privacy policies.

One nugget buried in the survey is that Millennials are 54 percent more likely than older adults to buy a product suggested by a social media celebrity. That may be the byproduct of older adult unfamiliarity with most social media celebrities.

It may not set apart Millennials from other adults, but the survey underscores they like to laugh and learn at the same time. “Marketing campaigns that provide value to their audience through funny and informative video content stand the best chance of engaging their viewers,” O’Shaughnessy says. “Humorous content is the most likely to strike a chord with millennials (44%), while informative content comes in second (30%).”

“Amusing and informative advertisements elicit good responses from Millennials and Baby Boomers, with the latter demonstrating a slight preference for informative ads,” he explains. “However, marketers need to exercise caution when trying to grab their audience’s attention with a shocking ad, as these performed abysmally across both generations – only 4% of Millennials and 3% of Baby Boomers stated that unsettling ads resonate with them.”

While Millennials, children of the digital age, pose unique marketing challenges, they are still part of the human race. “Although this generation has its idiosyncrasies, Millennial marketing is not such a hard nut to crack,” O’Shaughnessy argues. “Millennials crave content that feels valuable, honest, personal and sticks out from the rest of their feeds. The best way to accomplish this is to create video marketing campaigns that utilize influencers and provide funny, informative content to a brand’s audience.”

 

High Tech Giants Take Reputational Hit on Harris Poll

Big names in high tech suffered reputational blows in this year’s Harris Poll Reputation Quotient because of festering concerns over privacy issues. Amazon and Microsoft bucked the trend by moving up the ladder of reputational admiration.

Big names in high tech suffered reputational blows in this year’s Harris Poll Reputation Quotient because of festering concerns over privacy issues. Amazon and Microsoft bucked the trend by moving up the ladder of reputational admiration.

Privacy concerns, high-profile scandals and proposals to break up high tech monopolies has taken a toll on the reputations of Facebook, Google and Apple.

Once the darlings on the Harris Poll that measures the reputations of the 100 most visible companies in the United States, familiar technology giants have seen their reputational numbers slide this year. Apple went from number one in 2012 to 32nd this year. Google went from eighth to 28th in the same period. Facebook fell the furthest from 51st in last year’s list to 94th.

Amazon bucked the trend, but still fell from first last year to second. Microsoft rose two spots to ninth. The most impressive upswing was by Samsung that climbed 28 rungs to 35th. Sony scrambled up 21 spots to 31st.

Wegmans Food Markets claimed the top spot this year. Patagonia and L.L. Bean moved up to fourth and fifth, respectively. Other rising reputations were 21st Century Fox (up 21), Home Depot (up 14), Procter & Gamble (up 12) and LG Corporation (up 10). Mildly surprising gainers included JP Morgan Chase (up 11) and Royal Dutch Shell (up to 10).

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In addition to Facebook and Google, the companies with the biggest reputational dents in their hoods included Tesla Motors (down 39), McDonald’s (down 29), Target (down 23), Nike (down 23), Chick-fil-A (down 18), Comcast (down 13) and Sears (down 9).

Facebook’s slide from grace undoubtedly is linked to last October’s bombshell that hackers may have absconded with data from 30 million uses of the popular social media site. News since then hasn’t been much better. More concerns about unreported efforts by Facebook to monetize user data and a disclosure about a pending multi-million dollar fine connected with privacy.

"What was driving a lot of that decline was how Facebook became misaligned with American society,” Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema told USA Today. "Big Tech sort of became front and center as a societal fear.” Harris has found 69 percent of Americans regard privacy of data as extremely important. Only 15 percent of respondents think Facebook does enough to protect user personal information.

Apple had its privacy day in the court of public opinion when it was discovered the FaceTime App could be used for eavesdropping. Google suffered problems with its Chrome browser and disinterest in Google+. 

Gerzema credited Wegmans topping the list because of “its ability to build an experience and a community in its stores.” He said companies such as Patagonia and L.L. Bean saw rising reputations because of their “commitment to social values.” “It is important for companies to understand how important values are today,” he said.