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Nielsen//NetRatings has released a survey  that shows the latest internet trends and technologies are still a mystery to many UK consumers.

The report shows 52% of British web users believe online and digital technologies make their life easier, but a similar percentage say they find them difficult to follow.

The least-heard-of terms include VOD (75%), Wikis (70%), and IPTV and Really Simple Syndication (both 69%), while 67% aren’t aware of Web 2.0. One in seven also know of the iPod but don’t know what one is.

While many of these technologies aren’t especially visible, the results suggest the industry could be failing to adequately educate internet users about new developments.

Alternatively, consumer-facing firms may have learned to keep technologies in the background and focus on the benefits they offer.

Alex Burmaster, NetRatings’ European internet analyst said: “In the relentless quest for the next big thing when it comes to new forms of digital consumption, there is a significant tendency for the industry to overestimate consumer’s knowledge and understanding of the seemingly limitless new terms and products out there.

Unsurprisingly, use of acronyms is also partly to blame for the confusion – for example, using the term ‘personal video recorder’ instead of ‘PVR’ results in a 350% increase in consumer awareness.

But slightly more people have heard of RSS than Really Simple Syndication; presumably because hardly anyone calls it that.

Do consumers really need to be aware of these terms? We're not so sure. For example, you might use a wiki to underpin a buyer's guide, but you'd label that a 'buyer's guide' rather than a wiki. 

Equally, with RSS, the big shift in increased usage is happening due to consumer products like MyYahoo. Users see the 'add to MyYahoo' button on news websites and blogs (including this one - look at the foot of this post), rather than a potentially meaningless orange button labelled 'RSS'. That makes a lot more sense to the user, who may still be unaware about 'RSS' despite using products like MyYahoo.


Published 4 October, 2006 by Richard Maven

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