First findings from The Audience Agency's Digital Audience Survey show how audiences have responded to arts, culture and heritage organisations moving so much of their offering online during the COVID-19 lock-down period.

This 5 minute survey, deployed by organisations via their websites, social media and other e-communications, invites online audiences to help organisations to better understand:

  • Profiles
  • Motivations
  • Online habits
  • Changes through COVID-19

Top Findings

Profile

  • As is true of the Audience Finder benchmark for onsite audiences, Dormitory Dependables and Commuterland Culturebuffs are the best represented Audience Spectrum groups in the Digital Audience survey. This is likely linked to the fact that their in-person attendance is perhaps limited, relative to their levels of interest, because they live away from urban centres. So digital activity allows them to engage in higher proportions when geography is removed as a factor.
  • Experience Seekers though are engaging significantly more online, making up 12% of audiences, rather than the typical physical 6%.
  • While Performing Arts has a balanced aged demographic, more than half of audiences engaging with Museums and Heritage online are aged 55+.
  • Encouragingly, the number of audiences identifying as disabled people engaging online is higher than onsite, a factor that we'll be looking at in more detail in the future.

Visits

  • Over half of the Digital Survey respondents visit the organisations’ websites frequently – 52% visit at least once a month or more.
  • Just over half (56%) of these high frequency website visitors, have attended that organisation in person in the last 12 months.
  • Over a third (38%) have only engaged with the organisation digitally, having never visited the organisation in person.
  • 75% of first time website visitors have never visited the organisation in person.
  • 41% of website visitors, though, are also frequent onsite attenders, having visited the organisation in person, within the last 12 months.
  • 40% of high frequency website visitors to museums have never physically attended the organisations. This is compared to just 21% of performing arts.
  • There are many non-UK digital audience members. Almost a third (31%) of the digital-only visitors live outside of the UK.

Motivations

  • 62% of respondents have discovered new forms of art and culture during this period.
  • 64% say that they are viewing more arts and cultural content online during this period.
  • 61% say that they are engaging with arts and culture online to boost their mood.
  • Half of typically low cultural engagers agreed with the statement ‘I am engaging with arts and culture online to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.’
  • 60% of 16-24 year olds also either agreed or agreed strongly with this statement, compared to just 25% of over 65s.


Demographic Profiles of Online Audiences

Audience Spectrum

DAS by AS.png

In terms of Audience Spectrum, the profile of audiences engaging with online content during lock-down has been similar to the make-up of physical audiences in 2018/1019 (Audience Finder Benchmark). This includes:

  • The typical over-representation of high and medium engaged groups - particularly Dormitory Dependables and Commuterland Culturebuffs -
  • Lower engaged groups make up just 17% of online audiences, slightly below the physical arts and culture attendance average of 20% and half as prominent as in the population, of which these groups constitute 34%.

Age

DAS by Age.png

The Digital Audience age profile has lower proportions of younger audiences, both in comparison to the UK population and the Audience Finder benchmark. When the sample is split by organisation type, its apparent that:

  • Performing Arts has a particularly balanced age demographic, that aligns quite closely with the UK population.
  • Museums and Heritage organisations only manage to attract 13% 16-34 year olds, compared to the Performing Arts which attract 27%. In fact, over half of Museums and Heritage online audiences are 55+.

Museums vs Performance by Age.png


Frequency of website visitation

DAS Frequency.png

Over half of the Digital Survey respondents visit the organisations’ websites frequently – 52% visit at least once a month or more. Of the respondents that have visited at least every two months or more, 25% say that their frequency has increased significantly during the COVID-19 crisis and a further 33% say it has increased somewhat.

Compared to physical attendance

Frequency DAS vs AF.png

Respondents were asked about the frequency of both their website visitation and their physical attendance of the organisation. Predictably, there is strong correlation between frequency of website and physical visits. However, there are some interesting differences between first time visitors to the organisation's website and frequent flyers.

First time vs frequent website visitors

  • 73% of first time website visitors have never visited the organisation in person.
  • 28% of high frequency website visitors have never attended physically.
  • 56% of high frequency website visitors, attended the organisation frequently in the past 12 months.

DAS Frequency Aug 2020.png

The profile of web vs physical attendance between Museums and Performing Arts venues differs quite substantially when comparing the high frequency website visitor.

  • 40% of high frequency website visitors to museums have never physically attended the organisations.
  • This is compared to just 21% of performing arts.

As responses increase, it will be interesting to understand more about the profile of this ‘digital only’ audience.


Motivations for engaging with arts and culture online

The questionnaire asks respondents whether they agree/disagree with the following 5 statements:

  • I have discovered new forms of arts and culture online.
  • The types of art and cultural content that I am viewing online is similar to what I would normally see in person.
  • I am viewing more online arts and cultural content now than I did before the COVID-19 crisis.
  • I am engaging with arts and culture online to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • I am engaging with arts and culture online to boost my mood.

DAS Motivations.png

  • A large proportion – 62% have discovered new forms of art and culture during this period.
  • 64% saying that they are viewing more arts and cultural content online during this period.
  • 61% say that they are engaging with arts and culture online to boost their mood.

Responses by Audience Spectrum segment:

Reducing Stress and Anxiety by Engagement Level.png

These were then cross-tabbed by Audience Spectrum (grouped by level of engagement) and age. The results for 4 of the 5 statements were broadly similar across the different groups, but there was a significant difference in the way that respondents from different engagement levels and age groups answered ‘I am engaging with arts and culture online to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.’

  • 18% of usually low cultural engagement respondents strongly agreed with the statement, compared to just 8% of high engagers.
  • In total nearly half of low engagers (49%) either agreed or agreed strongly with the statement, compared to 39% of high engagers.

Responses by age:

Reducing Stress and Anxiety by Age.png

Younger audiences were also more likely to agree strongly with this statement:

  • 19% of 16-24 year olds agreed strongly, compared to 6% of over 65s.
  • In total 60% of 16-24 year olds either agreed or agreed strongly with the statement, compared to 25% of over 65s.

This data is as of August 2020


We'll be continuing to share insights from the Digital Audience Survey as responses increase over time. Make sure you're signed up to our newsletter for the most up-to-date information.

Image of Bounce Forwards | Support Programmes
Bounce Forwards | Support Programmes

Fast and affordable programmes to help you bounce forward with confidence.

Image of Bounce Forwards | Events
Bounce Forwards | Events

Our new and growing workshop programme focuses on the challenges organisations tell us they are facing right now.