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There are over 40 million Italians on the web

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2020, thanks to the pandemic and lockdown, was the year of digital acceleration. 2021 is the year of consolidation. Comscore’s digital audience measurement data highlights the changes and emerging trends in Internet usage habits caused by the pandemic. Two facts emerge on all. The growth in the use of the Internet has stabilized: 40.9 million Italians are connected to the Internet every month, for a penetration rate of 75% of the adult population. The “Apps” are the masters, representing 75% of the total time spent online.

Consolidated growth and new forms of use

The growth in the use of the network recorded in 2020 stabilized in 2021. There are 40.9 million Italians (average value in eleven months) who connect to the Internet every month, an increase of 6% compared to 2019, but still far from the penetration levels of the most digitally advanced countries (USA 91%; UK 86%).

Analyzing the monthly trends, it emerges that the peaks in use coincided with the various phases of the virus’ resurgence and the intensity of the containment measures. The impact of the pandemic is also evident in the categories of content that have registered the greatest growth. Compared to 2019, increases of 53% of single users in the Government category have been recorded; 48% of the Education category; 29% of the Health category, whose levels of use on the total online population reached 56%, 64% and 86% of penetration respectively. And the greatest increases are recorded in the more mature segment of the population (over 45), with growth of 76% in Government; 70% Education and 53% Health.
Covide 19 thus confirms its role as an accelerator in the use of online services for public utility functions and in the relationship with the PA.

“Appification” and time spent online

Italians spend an average time on the net of 2 hours and 37 minutes a day, a figure in line with that of 2020 but up by 12% compared to 2019.
Generational differences remain quite marked: young people (18-24 years) who spend 3 hours and 17 minutes a day on the Internet (+ 22% compared to 2019), almost an hour more than the more mature age groups ( 45+ with 2 hours and 25 minutes a day and + 15% on 2019).

75% of the time spent online is spent through mobile apps (+ 8% compared to 2019). The report highlights the phenomenon of “Appification” in the use of the Internet in its full extent, with important consequences on market equilibrium. The top 10 apps for penetration on the Italian market are all owned by Facebook, Google and Amazon and the top 10 apps on the overall time spent metric considered represent 58% of the total time spent in the App.


The pandemic effect was also felt in the world of Apps: comparing the first eleven months of 2020 with those of 2019, the top three Apps in terms of monthly unique users were all videoconferencing solutions (Teams, Zoom, Google Classroom ); while the one with the strongest growth in the first eleven months of 2021 compared to the same period of 2020 is the AppIO and the Post Office App and the Poste ID App are also included in the Top Ten, confirming the increasingly intense use of the network for public utility services.

Users’ media diets

Another element that stands out from the Comscore digital audience report is that users’ media diets are closely linked to the generational variable.
On the main demographic segments, the time spent on linear TV (Auditel data) was compared with that spent in the use of digital entertainment content in general terms and information (categories: Entertainment; Social Networks; Instant messaging; News and Games).

Of the total population, television is still queen (76%), but by analyzing in detail the socio-demographic articulation, considerable differences can be observed. In the 18-24 age segment, the digital component reaches 65%, with the online entertainment category (dominated by online video providers) accounting for 30% compared to 35% for television. The 25-34 age group shows a more balanced distribution (55% TV and 45% Digital) while the weight of television increases proportionally with increasing age.

“At the end of 2021 the growth in the use of the Internet generated by the pandemic consolidates in all age groups and above all in certain areas of activity that suffered from a historical delay in digitization in our country – comments Fabrizio Angelini CEO of Sensemakers which he represents exclusively Comscore in Italy -. Some structural phenomena such as the progressive concentration of time spent on the mobile applications of the main players and the differentiation of the use of information and entertainment content on a generational basis, seem destined to characterize the evolution of the sector also in the near future “.


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