The Most Engaged Population In Europe Is Dutch But The Future Is Russian

Comscore Media Metrix shares lots of fabulous data — but their most recent release of data relating to May was amongst the richest they’ve ever released to the public. Interesting at first sight, is the fact that the Netherlands are the most engaged population online (as you can see in the chart below) beating the Turkish by a small margin.

Engagement in this context means the number of page views per month per average visitor. I was disappointed to note that my other family home of Austria is at the bottom of the league (probably because it’s a very beautiful country and time is spent outdoors) but most of the rest of the engagement chart fits with what I might expect.

Comscore Media Metrix Data May 2011 Shows The Most Engaged Populations in Europe


Further analysis of the data, however, produces some fascinating insights. Those of us that work in search marketing are well used to talking about “Internet penetration” meaning the availability of an Internet connection as a percentage of the total population.

Comscore’s data enabled us to go a little deeper and ask, “Which population uses their Internet connection the most?” In other words, we can check the Internet reach, as shown in the chart below — which might result in some of us re-drawing our planned marketing maps for the future.

The chart compares the number of active visitors to websites during May (provided by that same Comscore release), then compared with the current populations of those countries (based on European Union data for European countries and World Bank data for Russia and Turkey). As far as I’m aware, no one has looked at the data in this way before.

Things Have Changed In France Too

What you can immediately see is that the Web reaches more people as a percentage of the population in the Netherlands than anywhere else. My good friend Bas van den Beld is quite right when he says the Dutch are very active on the Web. In fact, the Dutch are obsessed with the Web far beyond any other current European nation.

Next to the top are the Nordic countries which is not so much of a surprise, but how things have changed in France! It is not so long ago we were defending French use of the Web on the basis that they had something called “Minitel” which they had been using for years to carry out electronic searches. We no longer need to protect them — they’re now ahead of the Germans and the British in terms of how active the population is online.

The Most Active Populations Online According To Comscore May 2011 With WebCertain Analysis


But it won’t always be like that. It’s always fun to extrapolate current data into the future and this is no exception. Because of the level of activity per user of the Russians and Turks is quite high — despite their current lower internet penetration rates — when you look into the future assuming that 100% of the population are online, you get the mind blowing chart below.

The active Russian Web population is only very slightly smaller than Germany thanks to a large population of which currently only one third have Internet access. When all are online, it becomes a large grouping and given their above average engagement levels, they end up shooting off the chart.

The Future Most Active Population Online Based On Comscore May 2011 Data. Analysis By WebCertain


What should search marketers do differently? Firstly, forget the old FIGS model of France, Italy, Germany and Spain as the automatic choices to roll out your business. You should immediately think about running your test marketing activities in the Netherlands rather than anywhere else. Culturally, by the way, the Dutch are a population well used to compensating for other nations “localization” errors — though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try harder!

Target A New Set Of Countries

Additionally, you should consider developing your business initially around Russia, Germany, Turkey, France, UK, Italy, Spain and Poland. That way, you’ll be future-proofed and a couple of steps ahead of your competitors by the time they realize it too. Unless they read of course!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Multinational Search


About The Author: is a linguist who has been specializing in international search since 1997 and is the CEO of WebCertain, the multilingual search agency and Editor-in-Chief of the blog You can follow him on Twitter here @andyatkinskruge.

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  • Alex Grechanowski

    Ukraine should be mentioned in the Comscore’s report. Its Internet audience is huge and is growing quickly. Plus, it’s also, partially, a Russian speaking country.

  • Andy Atkins-Krüger

    Alex, You’re quite right of course — and I meant to point in my piece but overlooked it that Comscore’s data represents a tiny subset of what is actuallly “European” — there are actually at least 30 nations and possibly 40 which should really be included but aren’t. Sadly, for this piece, we could only work with the countries they track.

  • Andrew Whiteman

    Andy, great insights here but I would be more careful about extrapolating current user engagement in Russia across the whole population of the country. The IT market and internet users in Russia are very heavily concentrated in the much wealthier major cities particularly Moscow and St. Petersburg – the picture outside of the major cities is quite different.


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