The daily data reporting provided by Ipsos iris, UKOM’s endorsed solution for audience measurement in the UK, provides timely and granular insights into how online usage is impacted by current events, as can be illustrated when looking at app data for the month of February.

Two of the biggest news days in February were Storm Eunice on Friday 18th and the Russian invasion of Ukraine which began on 24th. Both events had a considerable impact on usage of online apps - from major reach services such as the BBC News to smaller niche apps like Flightradar24. The chart below shows how this impacted the audience of three of the biggest news and weather apps in the UK – BBC News, BBC Weather and Sky News.

Current events & impact chart

On Friday 18th February as the wind and rain continue to hit Britain as Eunice followed Dudley, the audience to Sky News was 18% higher than the Friday before with minutes up by 41%.  Visitor numbers and time spent on the BBC News app were also both up by over 20% but this was nothing compared to the increase in audience and minutes on the BBC weather app which rose by over 70% as people tracked the storm.  More weather apps featured in the top 100 that day including Apple Weather and Accuweather – the latter moved up the rankings from number 227 to 93. Flightradar24, which showed planes trying to land at Heathrow Airport, had a 95% increase in minutes compared to the Friday before as over half a million UK adults turned their attention to plane spotting, an increase of 200k on the previous day.

On Thursday 24th February, Russia invaded Ukraine and UK audiences once again turned to apps from the BBC and Sky to keep abreast of the news. Over 8 million people visited the BBC News app that day alone – an increase of 21% on the Thursday before with minutes being up by 61%. The BBC News app had the 9th biggest UK audience that day – only apps from Google, Meta (Facebook) and Amazon ranked higher. Almost 2 million adults used the Sky News app, minutes were up by 143% week on week and were double those of the day before. For different reasons to the week before, the Flightradar24 app also became popular once again – this time across the globe. Zdnet reported that the service crashed on 24th January due to heavy traffic as interest in the invasion grew.  According to UKOM data from Ipsos iris, Flightradar24’s daily UK app audience rose to over 700k on 24th February with minutes being up by 177% w-o-w and it has continued to stay high.

Although this analysis has focused only on a handful of apps, the daily data reports on thousands of apps AND websites – big and small. For example, a quick look at the top-line website data indicates that many traditional news brands are experiencing increases as people are consuming more content given current world affairs. Audience, time and page views all grew by double digit percentages on 24th February on websites from The Guardian, FT, the Telegraph, The Independent, The Metro, CNN, and The Mirror to name a few.

Daily data provides editors, agencies, advertisers and publishers a way of tracking how their brands perform versus competitors on specific days and how this is impacted by current affairs, seasonality and events. As utility prices rise, the conflict continues, travel abroad increases and employees return to the office, Ipsos iris and UKOM can help provide an understanding of how people’s online usage changes over time.

Ipsos, Ipsos iris Online Audience Measurement Service, Daily Data, 1st-28th February 2022.
Base = all aged 15+ years using PC/laptop, smartphone or tablet device(s).

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