5 min read

UK's Digital Landscape in 2024

Published on
March 4, 2024

In today's world, “digital” reigns supreme, seamlessly integrating into every facet of our daily lives and the business realm. This digital dominance offers an unprecedented opportunity for businesses: the ability to meticulously track and analyse consumer behaviour and market trends.

Delving into Meltwater’s comprehensive Digital 2024 report for the United Kingdom, we’ve distilled the essence of this 136-page document to bring you the key insights that are shaping the UK market and influencing business marketing strategies.

Our analysis is segmented into five critical sections, providing a lens through which to view the current and future digital landscape. For those looking to explore the original resource in its entirety, it can be found here.

Key Takeaways:

  • The UK's active social media user count stands at 56.2 million, with 82.8% of the population engaging on these platforms.
  • Average daily internet usage surpasses 6 hours, predominantly via mobiles and laptops.
  • Television viewing time has reduced, while social media remains integral for brand discovery and research.
  • The UK's digital advertising spend has reached $43.69 billion, showcasing a significant turn towards online platforms.
  • TikTok sees unparalleled engagement, dominating the social media scene with users clocking nearly 50 hours a month.


The digital footprint of the UK is more expansive than ever before, with headline figures such as 56.2 million social media users in 2024. This statistic calls for a better understanding of the broader demographic and technological shifts within the UK.

As of 2024, the UK’s population has grown by 226,000, reaching 67.85 million, with a year-on-year increase of 0.3%. Notably, 82.8% of this population engages with social media. The demographic split reveals a slightly larger female population at 50.6%, compared to 49.4% male, and a median age of 40.2 years. Economic and development indicators further contextualise this picture, highlighting the UK's GDP at $3.33 trillion and a net national income per capita of $36.1 thousand.

Technology adoption reflects these demographic trends, with 92.3% of the population owning a mobile phone and a remarkable 97.5% of those aged 16-64 possessing smartphones, marking a 3.0% increase year-on-year. Additionally, 51% of the population owns a tablet, and 69.9% have a laptop or desktop computer, evidencing a 4.3% year-on-year increase.

The landscape of technology usage continues to evolve, with smartwatches, for example, owned by 36.4% of the population, and ownership rates of TV streaming devices of 32.4% further illustrating the rapid digital evolution the UK has experienced over the last year.

Technology in everyday life

Technology's role in UK life is undeniable. As our table shows, people from 16 to 64 are increasingly turning to digital solutions for their media needs. While there haven’t been seismic shifts, it’s incredible to note how many activities are now reliant on digital technology and how many mediums are consumed daily.

Table Correction Example
Media Activity Percentage of 16-64 Year Old using this media type Year on Year Change
Using the Internet via Mobile Phone 96.7% +1.4%
Using the Internet via Laptop or Tablet 93.5% (0.4%)
Using Social Media 90.9% +1.7%
Watching Broadcast TV 93.6% (0.8%)
Watching Streaming and in Demand TV 76.6% (0.4%)
Reading Online Press Content 66.2% (2.9%)
Reading Physical Press Content 57.5% (7.4%)
Listening to Broadcast Radio 80.3% (3.4%)
Listening to Music Streaming Services 63.4% +0.2%
Listening to Podcasts 61.7% +1.1%

Furthermore, the current landscape reveals a considerable daily engagement with the internet, averaging 6 hours and 2 minutes, which is an increment of 15 minutes from the previous year. This uptick is attributed to core activities such as seeking information, learning new skills, and connecting with loved ones. Popular digital platforms facilitating these activities include chat services, social networks, and search engines.

Yet, not all media consumption habits are experiencing growth. Time allocated to television, encompassing both streaming and broadcasting, has diminished by 16 minutes, now averaging 3 hours and 54 minutes. The print media, both online and physical, has witnessed a more dramatic dip, plummeting by 36.5% to just 1 hour and 10 minutes daily. Podcast engagement also reflects a downward trend, with listening time decreasing to 43 minutes, shedding nearly a fifth of its previous duration.

Social Media Focus

Social media's reach extends to nearly 91% of the UK's adult population, with over 56.20 million user identities. Despite a slight decrease in numbers, the average individual juggles 6.4 social platforms monthly and dedicates approximately 1 hour and 49 minutes to social media daily.

The primary draw of social media remains its ability to connect us with friends and family, fill our leisure time, and keep us informed with the latest news. WhatsApp takes the lead as the most used platform, with Facebook/Messenger second, Instagram third, and Twitter and TikTok ranking in fourth and fifth.

Notably, TikTok, while fifth in overall usage, commands a significant presence in favourites and swaps places with Twitter to become the fourth favourite, while the Top 3 remain WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram.

TikTok’s appeal is evident, as users spend an astonishing 49 hours and 29 minutes on the app each month. YouTube (19 hours and 10 minutes), Facebook (16 hours and 45 minutes), and Instagram (9 hours and 42 minutes) follow, but with notably less time spent.

For marketers, these patterns are telling. A significant 55% of users turn to social media for brand research, with 30.4% specifically using social networks for this purpose, marking 7.4% year-on-year growth. Forums and vlogs, in contrast, have seen a decline in this regard.

The impact of social media on web traffic is also enormous, with Facebook alone accounting for 56.4% of web referrals, showcasing the critical role social media plays in directing online user activity.

Platform Advertising Audience Comparison

The reach of social media advertising is vast, so let's delve into the top platforms, their potential audience reach, and the gender demographics of ads across these networks.

Platform Advertising Audience Comparison
Platform Total Potential Reach of Ads in Million Female Ad Reach % Male Ad Reach %
YouTube 56.20 49.9 50.1
LinkedIn 39.00 44.4 55.6
Facebook 37.10 53 47
Instagram 33.10 55.4 44.6
X/Twitter 25.60 38.1 61.9
Snapchat 23.67 53.6 45.4
TikTok 22.71 50.2 49.8
Pinterest 13.54 71 22.4

When it comes to ad targeting by gender, the split is mostly even across most social platforms. However, there's a clear difference on 'X', with a male majority of 61.9%, and on Pinterest, where 71% of the ad audience is female. These details are key for targeted marketing strategies.

Overall, the audience statistics and sheer reach of potential customers feed directly into the digital marketing expenditure, which is now standing at a substantial $43.69 billion in the UK. This figure represents a 9% rise from the previous year and accounts for 79.7% of the total advertising spend, both offline and online. While $21.45 billion is allocated to online search ads, digital video ads are capturing a lion's share at $9.1 billion, with a notable year-on-year increase of 15.7% in spending on online influencers, now reaching $1.03 billion. Social media ads command a significant $9.76 billion of the total ad spend, driven by the UK's digital engagement and robust e-commerce practices.

eCommerce & Social Media

Now we can’t talk digital without touching upon the areas of e-commerce and social media. Remarkably, 25.5% of those aged 16-64 discover new brands, products, and services through social media ads. Although online searches still lead the way, a significant 55.7% of users conduct online brand research before making a purchase, making a visit to the brand's social media or website essential.

Notably, 40.4% of this age group rely on social networks as their main source of brand information, and 62.2% have visited a brand's website in the last month before making a purchase.

But why does this matter? The answer lies in the UK's online shopping habits. A substantial 60.9% of people shop online weekly, influenced by price benefits like free delivery and discounts, often highlighted in social media ads. Equally influential are, social proofs such as likes, comments, and customer reviews.

Leading the e-commerce charge are fashion and electronics, commanding $39.08 billion and $23.70 billion, respectively. The travel and tourism sectors have also carved out their own online economies, with over $20 billion spent annually on flights and $17 billion on hotel bookings online. These sectors are increasingly leveraging social media advertising to capture consumer interest and drive sales.


As we wrap up our exploration of the UK's Digital Landscape in 2024, it's clear that the digital world is not just changing; it's shaping how businesses connect with consumers. The insights from Meltwater's report offer a roadmap for marketers and businesses looking to navigate this digital domain. Knowing where and how much time consumers spend online, their shopping habits, and the platforms they frequent provides invaluable data for targeted marketing strategies.

Businesses can no longer afford to cast a wide net and hope for the best. Precision and insight are the keys to relevance in a crowded digital marketplace. B3 Marketing understands this and stands ready to assist businesses in leveraging these insights. With a strategic approach informed by the latest data, B3 Marketing can help businesses tailor their campaigns to meet the evolving demands of the digital UK consumer, ensuring that they not only keep pace with the digital curve but stay ahead of it.

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