Targeted Media Online
Marla D. Currie
Managing Partner

Death of the Digital Divide

It was generally agreed by industry pundits since the widespread adoption and use of the internet that African-Americans and Hispanics lagged behind the general market in terms of their adoption and use of the Internet. Recently, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released findings that revealed these groups were accessing the internet using wireless technology rather than through home broadband - effectively obliterating the notion of a Digital Divide.

Broadband has traditionally been used as the barometer to gauge internet usage. According to Pew, 48% of African Americans and 47% of Hispanics report accessing the internet using mobile, laptop computers and Wifi compared to only 25% of the general market. Those findings are major as they indicate the so-called "Digital Divide" is nonexistent.

The Digital Divide has been the industry's way of characterizing the internet Haves and Have Nots which had social, economic, education, and all sorts of potentially negative repercussions. When factored in with their established use of broadband, internet usage by Blacks and Latinos is much more significant than previously believed.

Wireless and Wireline Internet Access
 
Home Broadband

Wireless Access

Mobile
Phones
African Americans
46%
48%
83%
Hispanic Americans
68%
47%
89%
General Market
65%
25%
84%
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Study April 2009

The Pew findings seem to corroborate research from a 2008 Radio One/Yankelovich study which indicated the internet had overtook Radio as the second most important medium after television for African Americans. Hispanics are outpacing all other groups in terms of both their wireless and wireline usage. The finding represent a huge change in media behavior and has implications for advertising and media planning at both multicultural and general market media buying agencies.

At a time when advertising dollars are moving from traditional media to the internet, narrowly viewing traditional mass media as the primary way to reach these consumers ignores multicultural audiences' changed media habits.

Hopefully, the media and advertising community will recognize the new reality of today's media landscape for multicultural consumers which is strongly the internet, now and no doubt in the future.

Targeted Media Online
©2009