The 2014 edition of Comscore’s annual Digital Future in Focus report is available for download. It’s a 48-page deck which highlights key findings of their ongoing research. Many of the findings are incredibly valuable for digital public affairs practitioners. And, since I know time is often tight in this field, here are some key takeaways for you to consider, organized by themes. I’ve included my summary analysis.

Canadians remain among the most active Internet users in the world

  • Spend an average of 34.6 hours online each month
  • 50/50 gender balance
  • 32% are between the ages of 35-54, 27% between 18-34
  • 39% based in Ontario, followed by Quebec (22%) and BC (14%)

ANALYSIS: If you’re not already directing significant financial and human resources at online audiences, you’re already losing. More importantly, you need to be researching who your audience really is (by platform), who it can be (by platform) and how you can target your efforts to reach them (by platform). Your audience may not be who you think it is.

Canadian Internet use is shifting from “PC” to mobile and tablet (and multiscreen)

  • Leading mobile usage include social networking (#2), search (#3), instant messaging (#4) and local/world news (#6)
  • 57% of mobile users conduct web searches on their devices
  • We’re watching 33% more video than in 2012, likely due to an increase in 3G and 4G (LTE) service.
  • 75% of Canadians own a smartphone. Android leads (44% share), iPhones (35%) and RIM (15%).
  • Mobile social networking up 25% each month, and up 23%  for “almost every day” use.
  • Tablet ownership increased 36%. Apple dominates (55%), Android (37%) and Blackberry (10%).
  • 31% of smartphone owners and 35% of tablet owners use their device while watching television.

The same person will use different devices at various times during the day.
“Smartphones rule our mornings. Desktops rule our days. Tablets rule our evenings.”

ANALYSIS: Your efforts must be designed to reach audiences where they are, and based on their usage patterns. The type of information you provide and how you present it must take into account different screen sizes and the way users interact with the screen they are using. There are significant opportunities to target efforts on various channels including social networking sites, search engines and news networks. If you can, exploit instant messaging as a way to effectively reach and engage with your target audience.

Canadians still love video (and news leads)

  • 74% of all Canadians watch online video
  • Watched 1,769 minutes of video per month (more than U.S.)
  • General news video ranks first at 38.5% of unique viewer penetration.

ANALYSIS: You need to produce compelling, relevant and shareable video content to communicate and engage with your audience. Remember that anything you produce should consider the size of screen — the more content in the frame, the more clutter and less clarity. Be clean and simple.

Social media sites dominate all online advertising delivery channels with a 36% share; portals place third (12%), news and information sites are fourth (8%), directories rank fifth (5%), business/finance sites tenth (2%).

  • The top 10 display advertisers combined for 615 billion impressions

ANALYSIS: There are plenty of opportunities to exploit flexible, targeted advertising platforms. Paid media should be part of the communications mix, in support of earned, owned and shared media. And, don’t forget about created media (content created about you or your campaign by individuals).