Web Users’ Habits in 2020

We live in an era that is rich in information, so much so, that we are even spoilt for choice in how we choose to consume it. The challenge for digital publishers is deciding the best platform to present content bearing in mind how users’ habits have changed.

There used to be a time not so long ago where the media and the general public were both figuring out the internet. Online became a new place where physical, printed media was replicated onto the world wide web. This was how traditional publishers could tap into their readers’ initial new habits by providing their content online. Very quickly, these now online publishers realized that their traditional readers were evolving. Over the years, as physical turned digital, readers became website visitors. With the advent of new ways to engage their audience, these visitors then became users. 

So how do users consume information now?

Users Habits

We are spoilt for choice in 2020, users’ habits have changed and this has massively increased the competition for attention. There have been three real phases of evolution that have changed how we consume content: 

  1. Technological advances in portability mean we can now access information wherever we are and whenever we want. We have gone from a desk to our laps, to the palm of our hands. 
  2. Perhaps the biggest evolution is the idea of creating virtual social spaces and networks. This has created the biggest information-sharing phenomenon since the television; Social Media. 
  3. The development of applications on mobile devices means there is a direct way publishers can engage their users in a controlled, one on one basis. 

Let’s look in more detail at some of the ways digital publishers can provide content for their users.


Users’ habits mean they often visit publisher websites on different devices, when at home, at work or on the move. Therefore, when building a website, it is vital that the user can view content on both desktop (including laptop) and mobile (smartphone and tablet) screens. Statistics show that 58% of all US online traffic comes from mobile devices and 58% of the time spent on websites in the US comes from Desktop. What these numbers tell us is that although users primarily consume content on their mobile devices, they spend more time on websites via their desktop.

Producing shorter and easily readable content for mobile devices and more detailed longer versions on desktop is a great strategy.

Social Media

Over the past 15 years, social media has become the primary way users interact not only with each other, through messaging but also with sharing information and ideas. Facebook is the most popular way for publishers to reach their audience through social media. Users are able to share content from publishers they are interested in. Logged in data, mobile devices and hyper-connected APIs mean users are almost always accessible through their social media account. More than 80% of social media browsing occurs on a mobile device which emphasizes the point that social media is an always-on channel.

Having content accessible or shareable via social media, means users are more likely to read and interact with your content. 


For digital publishers, having a website and a presence on social media is not always enough. The world of Apps opens publishers to the possibility of developing a personal relationship with their users. This is made possible as the user has to download the app onto their device accepting terms of use as well as setting up preferences. This enables the publisher to offer unique personalization, the opportunity to send notifications and enabling the use of mobile device features. Apps also have the ability to work offline and offer far more to publishers in terms of data and measurement. Although Apps usage accounts for 90% of US users’ time on a mobile device this is misleading as that time is usually spent with just a handful of apps, mainly Youtube, Social Media, and Music Streaming.

Key here is enabling choice with the user and an environment where they can interact with you as a brand. This builds greater loyalty and affinity with your content.

What does this mean for Digital Advertising?

Digital Publishers need to be mindful of the impact each of the evolutions has on users’ habits and subsequently monetization models. Delivering digital advertising in all three environments is technically possible but is dependent on where your audience has the strongest presence. Most Publishers have a website and can offer traditional display formats and perhaps some higher impact interactive adverts such as native and video. Of course, using instream video advertising relies on you having video content. These monetization methods are also available through the mobile web, offering a publisher the opportunity to tap into mobile budgets.

With Social Media, the impact is different, in that the opportunity to monetize comes from increased visits to your website. The Google AMP pages enable content to load much faster from social media links.  There are now ways to monetize that traffic even though you cannot include third-party javascript in AMP. 

For App monetization, if you have an app, then native advertising, banners, and video are the best ways to monetize. If a publisher does not have an app, integrating with content aggregators through content APIs is an option. This enables partner apps to drive traffic to your site in the same way social media can.