The global state of digital in July 2022 | Part one
Kepios founder Simon Kemp takes us through the key headlines featured in our Digital 2022 July Global Statshot.
Essential trends in the world’s connected behaviours
Our Digital 2022 July Global Statshot Report – published in partnership with We Are Social and Hootsuite – shows that we’re still seeing solid growth in digital adoption and activity around the world.
The data reveal that hundreds of millions of people started using the internet and social media for the first time over the past 12 months, and there are a host of impressive new user milestones in this quarter’s data too. However, the most important trends often lie beneath the surface of the headlines, so in this article, we’ll take you beyond the numbers, and explore what people are actually doing online. This is the first part of a two-part blog analysis. Stay tuned next week for the drop of part two.
If you’re short on time, the YouTube video below will guide you through ten of the top stories in this quarter’s report.
However, read on below that for the complete report, and for our comprehensive analysis of this quarter’s key insights and trends.
Top stories in digital in July 2022
In addition to all of our usual data points, essential stories in this quarter’s report include:
- The facts about Facebook’s “decline”
- The evolution of crypto’s fortunes
- Yet another big milestone for TikTok
- Digital news behaviours around the world
- The rise and rise of mobile
- Big gains for Snapchat and Telegram
- Impressive growth for Reels
- The importance of mobile games
Just before we dive into those stories though, please read the following notes carefully, to ensure you understand how some recent changes in underlying source data and associated research methodologies may impact this quarter’s findings.
Important notes on data changes
Population figures: earlier this month, the United Nations published a comprehensive update to its World Population Prospects data, which included some important revisions to population numbers around the world. In addition to impacting the figures we report for population, these revisions may also affect all data points where we report digital adoption or use as a percentage of total population, or as a percentage of a specific age cohort (e.g. people aged 13 and above). As a consequence, please note that any comparisons to equivalent data points published in previous reports in this series may result in unexpected changes or trends, including potential drops in user figures.
Social media platforms: both YouTube and Instagram also appear to have revised their base data for audience reach since our previous report, which may result in some of the figures for those platforms in the current report appearing lower than the figures we published in previous reports. However, please beware of interpreting any such changes as an actual drop in users or audience reach, as these changes may be the result of changes in methodology or definitions.
To learn more about changes that may impact the comparability of data across reports in the Global Digital Reports series, please refer to our comprehensive notes on data.
Complete Digital 2022 July Global Statshot Report
You’ll find the complete Digital 2022 July Global Statshot Report in the SlideShare embed below (click here if that’s not working for you).
But what does this quarter’s report actually tell us?
Let’s get stuck into all of the numbers to find out…
THE GLOBAL STATE OF DIGITAL
To start our tour of this quarter’s data, here are the latest global digital headlines:
- Fresh updates to the UN’s population data reveal that there are 7.98 billion people living on Earth in July 2022, with that figure climbing by 66 million (+0.8 percent) over the past year.
- Global mobile users grew to 5.34 billion by the start of Q3 2022, with smartphones accounting for almost 4 in 5 of the mobile handsets in use today. The global mobile population has grown by 93 million since this time last year, with almost 67 percent of the world’s total population now using some form of mobile phone.
- Internet users have increased by 3.7 percent over the past 12 months, reaching 5.03 billion in July 2022. Year-on-year growth of 178 million new users has pushed global internet penetration up to 63.1 percent.
Social media users grew by 227 million over the past year, reaching 4.70 billion by the start of July 2022. The global social media user base has increased by more than 5 percent over the past 12 months, with the latest global total now equivalent to 59 percent of the world’s total population.
The inflection point of digital growth
These numbers all point to a deceleration in digital growth compared with the impressive increases that we saw during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, current trends indicate that two-thirds of the world’s total population should be online by this time next year, and social media users should reach the equivalent of 60 percent of the global population not long afterwards.
As a result, it’s safe to assume that we’re now very close to – or perhaps even already at – an inflection point of digital growth, and we should expect to see growth curves continue to flatten out from here on.
But it’s important to stress that this deceleration is inevitable; with the majority of the world’s population now connected, it would be statistically impossible for user numbers to continue growing indefinitely at the rates we saw in 2020 and 2021.
Moreover, the fact that we’ve arrived at this inflection point proves that connected tech is now embedded in the lives of most people around the world.
Consequently, the key question is no longer whether our audiences are actually using these technologies, but what they’re using them for, and how we can take full advantage of the valuable – and constantly evolving – opportunities that these technologies present.
And the good news is that the Global Digital Reports series is packed with all the data and insights you need to answer those very questions.
So, let’s dive into some of this quarter’s richest insights…
Mobile on the move
Mobile has accounted for more than half of the world’s “connected time” since the end of 2018, and its share of connected activity continues to increase. For example, GWI’s latest data shows that mobile phones now account for 55.5 percent of the time we spend using the internet, up from 52 percent this time last year.
Device preferences vary by age and gender though, with younger women considerably more likely to go online via a mobile phone compared with older men.
Phone-based activities account for more than 60 percent of the time that Gen Z women spend online, but less than 45 percent of the time that male Baby Boomers spend using the internet.
Meanwhile, data from Statcounter indicates that mobile devices account for an increasingly large share of global web traffic.
The company’s latest data shows that nearly 6 in 10 web page requests now come from mobile phones, up from just over 55 percent a year ago.
However, these averages vary wildly by country.
Statcounter reports that mobile phones account for more than 8 in 10 web page requests in Turkey, Egypt, and Nigeria, but they’re only responsible for 27 percent of web traffic in Belgium.
But to put that global mobile figure in perspective, Statcounter now attributes less than 40 percent of global web traffic to laptop and desktop computers, down from 44 percent this time last year.
Computers continue to play an important role in the world’s internet activities though, and Stacounter’s latest data show that laptop and desktop computers still account for more than 7 in 10 web page requests in Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Belgium, and the Seychelles.
Computers also remain the most popular means of accessing the web across much of Western and Northern Europe, as well as in Japan.
Returning to the global outlook, rapidly accelerating mobile connection speeds may help to explain the world’s continued shift to mobile.
The latest reports from Ookla reveal that the world’s median mobile internet connection now exceeds 30Mbps, with average download bandwidth increasing by more than 25 percent over the past 12 months.
Admittedly, the average fixed connection is still twice as fast as that – almost 65Mbps – but with most mobile connections now capable of streaming 4K video without delays or buffering, the difference between fixed and mobile connection speeds now has significantly less impact on most day-to-day activities.
Moreover, mobile internet connection speeds are now faster than fixed internet connections in a total of 51 countries around the world.
However, there are still big differences in average mobile connection speeds around the world.
Ookla reports that median mobile connections now exceed 100Mbps in a total of 8 countries, but they remain below 10Mbps in a total of 9 countries. For context, the median mobile connection in top-ranked Norway is 26 times faster than the current median mobile connection in bottom-ranked Venezuela and Turkmenistan.
Beyond geographic differences, another area where users will notice the difference between mobile and fixed connections is gaming, where latency plays an important part in shaping the experience and the quality of gameplay. Ookla’s Speedtest data shows that the latency of the typical fixed internet connection is still three times lower than that of the typical mobile connection, so there’s still some way to go before mobile gamers are on a level playing field with their fixed-connection counterparts.
Digital news trends
A few days ago, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) published the 2022 edition of its excellent Digital News Report.
You can read the complete report and analysis on their website, but we’ve included a few of the top findings in this quarter’s report, and summarised our analysis of those stories below.
Just before we dig into the data though, please note that some of the findings in this “Digital News Trends” section may differ from similar data points included elsewhere in this quarter’s report, due to differences in data sources, as well as the timing of respective data collection.
Sources of news
One of the most interesting findings in this year’s Digital News Report is that more than 4 in 5 adults now get their news via digital channels, compared with just 3 in 5 who watch news on television.However, the more striking finding when it comes to news channels is that people are now 2½ times as likely to turn to social media for news as they are to turn to physical newspapers and magazines.
Women are especially likely to turn to social platforms for news, with almost 6 in 10 female respondents saying that they use social networks and messengers to access and consume news content.
Conversely, women are increasingly unlikely to consume news via print media, with barely 1 in 5 female respondents saying that they read physical newspapers and magazines.
At a country level, people in developing economies tend to be the most likely to turn to online channels for news, with survey respondents in African nations appearing particularly high up in this year’s rankings.
Overall, 95 percent of Nigerian adults and 92 percent of Kenyan adults say that they turn to digital channels for news content, compared with a global average of 82 percent.
Respondents in Japan were the least likely to say they use digital channels for news (65 percent), but adults in the United States came a close second, with just two-thirds of respondents saying that they consume news online.
Devices used for digital news
When it comes to the devices that people use to access digital news, mobile phones are clearly the top choice, with more than 7 in 10 respondents saying that they use smartphones to consume news content.
Men are considerably more likely than women to use a computer for accessing news, with nearly half of the men surveyed saying that they use a laptop or desktop to consume news content.
However, the popularity of using computers to access news varies meaningfully by country.
Just 17 percent of respondents in Mexico said that they use computers for news, compared with 66 percent in Czechia.
Social media as a source of news
Similarly, the use of social media channels to access news content varies meaningfully by geography.
At a global level, the RISJ reports that 57 percent of global adults use social media to discover and consume news content.
However, this rises to 82 percent of respondents in Kenya, and drops as low as 28 percent in Japan.
At first glance, these findings appear to be quite different to the latest wave of research from GWI.
Just 34.8 percent of working-age internet users surveyed by GWI in Q1 2022 said that reading news stories is one of the “main reasons” why they use social media.
However, it’s important to stress that GWI’s survey asks respondents whether reading news stories is one of the main reasons why they use social media, whereas the RISJ survey question is much broader, and simply asks respondents whether they have used social media as a source of news in the past week.
This somewhat nuanced difference adds valuable context to both sets of numbers though, because it may help to identify the difference between what may be more casual or incidental consumption of news content via social media (the RISJ’s research), and more deliberate engagement with news content in social channels (GWI’s research).
The impact of age on use of social media for news
As might be expected, the 2022 Digital News Report reveals that younger adults are more likely to turn to social media for news when compared with their parents’ generation.
Almost two-thirds of respondents aged 18 to 24 said that they use social media as a source of news, compared with less than half of respondents aged 55 and above.
Once again though, these figures tell quite a different story to the findings of GWI’s survey.
GWI’s data shows that 31.2 percent of respondents aged 16 to 24 say that reading news stories is one of the main reasons why they use social media, compared with 35.8 percent of respondents aged 55 to 64.
These differences may allude to the varying importance of news in people’s lives, especially as it compares to other kinds of content and activity.
For example, while the RISJ reports that younger people are more likely to consume news content via social media than older age groups, GWI’s data suggests that younger people’s social news consumption may be more incidental.
In other words, reading the news isn’t a primary reason why younger people open their social media apps, but they still see and engage with news content in their social media feeds.
Conversely, while the RISJ’s data indicates that older age groups are less likely to use social media for news than younger people, news is actually a bigger driver of social media activity amongst these older people.
Social platforms used for news
When it comes to the social media channels that people use for news, the RISJ reports that Facebook still dominates, with nearly half of all survey respondents citing Meta’s largest platform as a source of news.
YouTube comes in second in this year’s ranking, with 3 in 10 respondents saying that they consume news content on Alphabet’s primary video platform.
However, it’s worth highlighting that men are more likely to use YouTube for news than women are.
WhatsApp ranks third in this year’s report, with 22 percent of respondents saying that they use Meta’s most popular messaging platform as a source of news content.
Meanwhile, the number of respondents who say that they use TikTok for news has almost doubled since last year, from 4 percent in the 2021 Digital News Report, to 7 percent in this year’s study.
Trust in news
Trust in news has slipped again over the past year though, with barely 4 in 10 people now saying that they feel they can trust most news, most of the time.
Respondents in Finland have the most positive outlook, with more than two-thirds of respondents in the country expressing faith in the news.
However, Americans are becoming increasingly sceptical.
Barely a quarter (26 percent) of US respondents in this year’s survey said that they feel they can trust the news, down from 29 percent in last year’s study.
News brands on social media
In order to add some additional context to the findings of this year’s Digital News Report, we’ve taken a look at some of the most popular news brands on Facebook and Twitter.
Due to the considerable linguistic challenges associated with identifying all of the top news brands around the world, there’s a very real possibility that the selection of pages and accounts that we’ve identified in this study misses some important news brands that should have made these lists. However, the brands that we have identified still tell a fascinating story about where the world’s social media users go to get their news.
News brands on Facebook
Perhaps the most startling finding is that – despite the Chinese government still blocking Facebook in Mainland China – the top 5 news brands on Facebook are all Chinese state-controlled media outlets.
CGTN (China Global Television Network) tops the list of news brands on Facebook, with a whopping 118 million followers in July 2022 – a figure that has increased by 1 million since the start of this year.
Meanwhile, China Daily’s Facebook page has also attracted more than 100 million followers, with the current 105 million figure roughly half a million higher than the figure that we reported at the beginning of 2022.
Xinhua News Agency (93.4 million followers), People’s Daily, China (85 million followers), and the Global Times (69 million followers) account for the remaining three places in the top 5 news brands on Facebook.
What’s more, the first four of these pages also make the worldwide top 30 Facebook pages in any category – not just news.
CGTN currently ranks sixth amongst all the pages on Facebook in terms of follower numbers, while China Daily comes in at number 15.
Xinhua News Agency is in 19th position, while People’s Daily ranks 23rd.
For reference, these four pages are the only news brands that make the top 30 pages on Facebook (regardless of category) in July 2022, and no Western news organisation makes that top list.
The Global Times fails to make that top 30 list too, but – at 69 million followers – it’s not too far behind Jason Statham’s page, whose 75 million followers currently place his page in 30th spot.
There may be a meaningful overlap in the audiences of these Chinese media pages, but the key takeaway from their dominance of news brands on Facebook is that China now has a significant “share of influence” when it comes to delivering news and perspectives around the world.
The BBC News page has attracted the largest following of any Western news brand on Facebook, with 58 million followers at the time of writing.
That’s less than half the number of users following CGTN’s Facebook page, but it’s worth highlighting that the BBC also publishes news content across a variety of separate, local-language Facebook pages, many of which have large followings of their own:
- BBC Burmese has 23.3 million followers
- BBC News عربي [BBC News Arabic] has 15.3 million followers
- BBC News বাংলা [BBC News Bengali] has 14 million followers
- BBC News Swahili has 3.5 million followers
- บีบีซีไทย – BBC Thai has 3.3 million followers
This multi-page, multi-language approach is particularly interesting given the balance of language content across the broader web, which shows that many languages are significantly under-represented.
Aaj Tak appears to have the largest Facebook following of any news-oriented page publishing content in languages other than English, and the Hindi news channel’s page claims close to 33 million followers in July 2022.
For context, across the 30 large news pages that we identified in this analysis, fewer than half (14 pages) post content primarily in the English language, while a further three pages post content in a mix of English and another language.
Languages used on the other pages in this list were as follows (note that some of these pages also post content in English):
- Arabic: 4 pages
- Hindi: 3 pages
- Burmese: 3 pages
- Urdu: 2 pages
- Filipino: 2 pages
- Vietnamese: 1 page
Looking beyond language, it’s also interesting to note that UNILAD and LADBible – both “social-first” news pages – have attracted a greater number of Facebook followers than more traditional news outlets like CNN and Al Jazeera.
For context, BuzzFeed – which some people may consider to be the original “social-first” news page – now has 13.8 million Facebook followers.
News brands on Twitter
Interestingly, the ranking of top news brands on Twitter looks quite different to the Facebook ranking we explored above.
The most obvious difference is that just one of the Chinese state-owned media outlets that dominate the Facebook rankings makes it into our list of top news brands on Twitter.
What’s more, that account – @CGTNOfficial – sits towards the bottom of this list, with 13.3 million followers at the time of writing.
@CNNBRK (CNN Breaking) has the largest audience of any news brand on Twitter in July 2022, with more than 63 million followers.
Meanwhile, another CNN-operated account – @CNN – claims second spot in the rankings, with 58.9 million followers.
In total, CNN operates 5 of the 30 top news accounts on Twitter that we identified during this study:
- @CNN (CNN’s ‘primary’ account): 63.3 million followers
- @CNNBRK (CNN Breaking): 58.9 million followers
- @CNNEE (CNN en Español): 21.9 million followers
- @CNNI (CNN International): 13.9 million followers
- @CNNArabic (CNN Arabic): 13.2 million followers
Returning to the top spots, the New York Times ranks third for news brands on Twitter with 53.5 million followers, while two BBC accounts – @BBCBreaking (50.3 million followers) and @BBCWorld (37.3 million followers) – round out the top 5.
Amongst the 30 largest news accounts on Twitter that we identified, 11 post content that is predominantly in languages other than English.
Notably, 7 of these accounts publish news in Arabic, highlighting Twitter’s popularity across the Middle East.
However, despite Twitter’s popularity across Latin America, we only identified one Spanish-language account – @CNNEE (CNN en Español) – that had a sufficient number of followers to qualify for this ranking.
It’s also interesting to note that – despite Twitter positioning itself as a source of news – just two news accounts appear in our latest ranking of the top 20 Twitter accounts across all categories.
Indeed, 15 of those top 20 accounts represent individual people, with Barack Obama’s account (132.3 million followers) still topping the global ranking.
On a side note, a timely bit of trivia that stood out for me in this top 20 ranking is that Elon Musk currently has significantly more Twitter followers (101.3 million) than Twitter itself (62.1 million).
Crypto’s fluctuating fortunes
Despite the recent collapse in the valuations of Bitcoin and Ethereum, data from GWI shows that ownership of blockchain-based currencies continues to grow.
Nearly 1 in 8 working-age internet users say that they now own some form of cryptocurrency, with that figure rising to almost a quarter of internet users in Turkey.
To put these figures in perspective, across the 48 countries that GWI’s research covers, survey responses indicate that more than 330 million people may now own some form of cryptocurrency.
This is broadly in line with research from Crypto.com, which found that 295 million people owned some form of cryptocurrency by the end of 2021.
Ownership is still skewed by gender though, and GWI reports that men are currently 60 percent more likely to own cryptocurrency than women are.
But perhaps the biggest story in the latest data is the overall growth in crypto adoption.
Indeed, the number of people around the world telling GWI that they own some kind of crypto has jumped by more than 50 percent over the past year alone.
The timing of this growth may point to problems, however.
For context, research from Crypto.com suggests that roughly two-thirds of all crypto owners held at least some Bitcoin or Ethereum (or both) at the end of last year.
But the value of Bitcoin has fallen by more than 70 percent since its most recent high in November 2021, and the value of Ether has dropped by an even more precipitous 75 percent during the same period.
As a result, many of those crypto owners who entered the market over recent months will likely have seen the value of their initial investment fall by a significant margin since they entered the crypto world.
There’s little data available on the potential average value of individuals’ crypto holdings, but research cited by Fortune indicates that a meagre 0.01 percent of Bitcoin owners hold more than 25 percent of the currency’s total value.
Based on Crypto.com’s report of 176 million Bitcoin owners at the end of 2021, this research suggests that barely 17,600 individuals and organisations hold more than a quarter of Bitcoin’s total value.
Furthermore, despite the steady increase in overall ownership, data.ai reports that there has been a meaningful drop in the use of mobile apps used for purchasing and trading cryptocurrencies, suggesting that “retail” crypto trading has slowed.
Data.ai’s analysis reveals that the total time spent in crypto apps has fallen by 20 percent since this time last year, with the combined time spent using the 10 top crypto apps now down by roughly two-thirds since its peak in March 2021.
However, this precipitous fall doesn’t necessarily indicate that large swathes of crypto owners have sold their holdings. For example, some owners may simply be “HODLing” – i.e. holding on for dear life – and waiting for the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum to recover before they resume regular trading.
Overall levels of awareness continue to increase, but most people still don’t understand NFTs (non-fungible tokens). A recent Zeitgeist study by GWI across 9 countries around the world found that more than two-thirds of people have at least now heard of NFTs, but fewer than 3 in 10 people say that they understand what NFTs really are.
More than a quarter of the survey sample said that they thought NFTs were a form of cryptocurrency, indicating that there’s still a long way to go before NFTs become mainstream. Moreover, 1 in 5 of those who claimed that they “understand” NFTs selected “a type of cryptocurrency” as the best definition of these instruments, suggesting that a meaningful number of those people who think they understand NFTs may actually be less knowledgeable than they’d like to admit.
There’s little solid data on the number of individuals who actually own an NFT, but one of the more commonly cited figures comes from a report published in the Financial Times, which stated that roughly 360,000 people owned an NFT at the end of 2021.
However, the same study found that barely 9 percent of those owners – some 32,400 individuals – held more than 80 percent of the nominal value of the erstwhile NFT market.
NFT trading slows significantly
Meanwhile, research published by NonFungible.com suggests that the number of blockchain wallets trading NFTs – whether as buyers or as sellers – fell by more than 50 percent during the first quarter of 2022, with fewer than 150,000 wallets trading NFTs in the last week of March.
And figures published on NonFingible.com’s website suggest that NFT trading activity has continued to decline since then too.
According to the site’s “Market Trends” section, there were fewer than 250,000 NFT sales in the 7 days leading up to 15 July 2022, compared with an all-time high of 1.27 million sales in the 7 days leading up to 24 November 2021.
These figures indicate that weekly NFTs sales have dropped by more than 80 percent since November 2021, although activity has recovered since the most recent low of 165,000 sales in the 7 days ending 17 June 2022.
In its Q1 2022 Market Report, NonFungible.com states that “collectibles” currently account for the largest share of the NFT industry, with more than half a million wallets executing a total of 2.7 million trades across the first three months of 2022.
The combined value of these trades equated to USD $6.1 billion, although it’s worth noting that this figure may include multiple trades of the same asset.
However, Reuters reports that the monthly value of NFT trades on the OpenSea marketplace has fallen by a thumping 85 percent since January.
The article states that the value of transactions in June 2022 amounted to USD $700 million, as compared with almost USD $5 billion just six months earlier.
This corresponds with similar trends in the data published on NonFungible.com.
The site’s “Market Trends” section shows that the cumulative value of weekly NFT sales in the 7 days ended 15 July 2022 amounted to USD $224 million, compared with an all-time high of USD $1.92 billion in the 7 days ended 29 August 2021.
This data suggests that the weekly value of NFT transactions has fallen by almost 90 percent since its all-time high.
Investor scepticism grows
Part of this trend may be explained by the fact that the value of Ethereum – one of the core currencies used in the trade of NFTs – has fallen by more than 70 percent since its all-time high in November 2021.
But given the breadth of declines, it’s perhaps not surprising that a survey published by Bloomberg on July 11th found that barely 9% of investors now see NFTs as a promising investment opportunity.
Meanwhile, the growing scepticism of NFTs’ investment value may be further exacerbated by an increase in NFT “washing” – a practice whereby the same individual or organisation trades a single NFT between a number different wallets under their control, in an attempt to artificially inflate the perceived value of that NFT.
In its Q1 2022 Market Report, NonFungible.com stated that wash trading may have accounted for more than half (52.2 percent) of the total value of NFT trades executed during the first three months of 2022, up from 43.2 percent in the last quarter of 2021.
However, it’s critical to remember that NFTs aren’t restricted to speculative investment assets.
NonFungible.com reports that gaming-related assets still account for the largest share of NFT trades, with close to 1 million wallets trading game-related NFTs in the first 90 days of this year.
Somewhat surprisingly though – especially given the recent media furore – metaverse-related NFT sales only account for a tiny fraction of NFT trading.
NonFungible.com reports that just over 53,000 metaverse-related NFTs were traded between January and March 2022, representing just 0.7 percent of the 7.45 million NFT sales that the company tracked in Q1.
In total, metaverse-related assets accounted for just 1.6 percent of the 34.4 million NFTs in circulation at the end of March, compared with 65.4 percent for gaming-related NFTs.
However, despite continued confusion and growing investor scepticism, we have little doubt that NFT technology is here to stay.
In particular, we expect to see a meaningful rise in the use of “digital twins” – NFTs associated with physical-world assets – that build on existing initiatives by organisations like Mattereum.
The analysis doesn’t end there. Keep an eye out next week for the release of the second part of our Digital 2022 statshot analysis, featuring key headlines for the world of social and a look at the rise of mobile.
Be sure to tune into our Digital 2022 July Stashot LinkedIn Live session on Wednesday 27th July, when Simon Kemp and our Global Head of Media Brittany Wickerson will be discussing the key headlines featured in the report.