COVID-19 - Changes in online behavior across Europe


GfK Report: Time spent on online categories analysis


Which categories of online use have increased and decreased the most before and during the COVID-19 crisis? Using our online usage index based on time spent across different categories of sites, we look at changing patterns of use for:

  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Netherlands
  • Italy
  • Poland

We analyzed the average daily time spent in each category before the crisis (1 January – 11 March) and compared it with the time after lockdown to understand how behavior had changed, the health of various categories and to get an idea of where to advertise. We used an index approach, where figures above 100 means use has increased, and below 100 mean use has dropped. 

The three categories growing the most were Communication, News and Public Services as people searched for information and updates about the Coronavirus. The top three categories experiencing a decline were Automotive, Sports and Travel. 

By splitting the analysis into five time periods for each of the markets studied (dates depend on the market’s own lockdown timeline), we can see the rise and fall of categories. For instance, in Germany the average time spent on Automotive dropped to 81 in period 1 (16/03-31/03) but bounced back to 108 in period 5 (11/05 – 24/05), while in Spain, Automotive is nearly back to pre-lockdown levels. When we look at Italy, travel sites are now showing signs of recovery with steady growth over the last three periods. 

The data for this analysis is taken from GfK’s cross-media single source panel covering online use across the top 3 and bottom 3 performing categories for Germany, Italy Spain, Netherlands and Poland. Data is based on individuals aged 15+ in Poland and Italy, 13+ in the Netherlands, 14+ in Germany and 18+ Spain.

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