How Many Travelers Consider Using Airbnb?

According to investors, Airbnb is worth $25.5 billion. What? Marriott just agreed to purchase Starwood for half that amount. This seems crazy. Here at Survata, we conduct consumer research. We don’t have a stake in Airbnb’s success, we were just curious: How many people even consider Airbnb when they book travel accommodation? Turns out it’s a small number, but it’s growing fast.1

survata tracks Airbnb usage

Most people who consider Airbnb for personal travel are young: two thirds are age 18 to 34. Hardly any business travelers consider Airbnb when booking business travel. Of the 2,015 respondents across both periods of the survey, only 30 reported considering Airbnb for business travel (1.5%).

55% of Airbnb’s US revenue comes from just 5 markets that hold 30% of active units (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, & Boston). Our data shows a similar over-representation of those five cities for personal travelers: they make up 15% of our respondents but 29% of Airbnb customers. There’s likely a local network effect going on – people hear about their friends hosting on Airbnb, then decide to consider it when they leave town.

You can see full results of our Airbnb tracking survey here.

Footnote
1) One statistical qualifier: the margin of error on personal travelers is 3.2%. Perhaps December was a little low, and March was a little high, and in June this trend won’t seem so alarming!

When Will Americans Give Up Car Ownership?

Based on their most recent investment round, Uber is worth more than Ford. GM just invested $500 million in Lyft. Google’s self-driving car recently crashed into a bus, and in a few years there will be millions of self-driving cars crashing into buses globally.

It got us thinking here at Survata… does anyone even drive anymore? So we’ve been asking consumers about cars. It turns out the vast majority of Americans still own a car, but we’ve found an interesting group: the 45% of American car owners who would be willing to give up car ownership. The implications of this are huge. What could cause it? It differs a bit by age, as you can see in the chart below.

survata tracks ridesharing and self-driving car consumer perceptions

How weird is it that self-driving cars are ahead of ride sharing as a reason to give up car ownership? When people want to be driven around… most prefer that a robot do the driving. Frankly it’s a sensible risk assessment, and anything sensible on this topic is a relief after how many people have lost their minds over Uber.

We expect consumer perception to be an important influence on the politicians and bureaucrats who will decide who self-driving cars should be programmed to kill. We’ll keep our finger on the pulse.

Forbes and Wired Change Consumer Perceptions of Ad Blocking

Forbes and Wired recently tried an experiment. They asked website visitors using ad blocking software to turn it off – and denied them access if they refused. This was a risky move for a few reasons.

1) The media coverage of this experiment could increase awareness and usage of ad blocking software (our data does show an uptick in consumer awareness)
2) They could accidentally serve malware ads to consumers after demanding ad blocking software be turned off (Forbes has been accused of this)
3) They could lose readers (while ad blocking readers don’t generate ad revenue, they contribute to total page views which still matters to some advertisers)

We asked consumers about ad blocking in November last year, and again last month. Ad blocking software usage has stayed steady at about 9% of total American internet users.1 But our data2 shows that Forbes and Wired have likely helped move the needle on an important metric: intent to start using ad blocking software.

survata tracks Netflix's most watched originals

To sum up, though awareness may have ticked up, intent to use dropped significantly. That’s a win for online publishers. Was this a blip or a turning point? Check back with us in May to find out (or add your email address in the box on the right and we’ll send you the next batch of results).

Footnotes:
1. A recent estimate put the US percentage of ad blockers at 15%, though critics have pointed out that the publisher of the data has a vested interest in that number being as high as possible.
2. Chart displays rounded values. The change in “I haven’t used it, but I think I’m going to try it out” is outside the margin of error, i.e., is statistically significant.

We’ve Launched a Netflix Tracker

Which Netflix shows are the most watched? Per their latest letter to investors, Netflix doesn’t plan to tell us.

“We don’t release title‐level ratings as our business model is not dependent on advertising or affiliate fees.”

Which is a shame for us, but logical for Netflix. If the TV networks had a clear picture of viewership, they would be more effective at negotiating licensing deals. If investors could track which big budget Netflix Originals are flops, it could negatively impact the company’s share price. It makes sense for Netflix to hoard this data, and only release the good news.

Well, that’s boring. So we’re tracking monthly viewership of Netflix TV shows. Every month we’ll ask two thousand Netflix subscribers1 which shows they’ve watched in the past 30 days and which Netflix Originals they’re most excited about watching in the future. We’ll see which new shows are hits or flops, and which returning shows build momentum or start to decline.

The chart below displays the top 20 most-watched shows2. See full survey results in a live dashboard.

survata tracks Netflix's most watched originals

Notes on methodology
How do you ask consumers which TV shows they’ve watched on Netflix? It’s deceptively challenging. If we ask the question as free response we rely on unaided recall and introduce typing fatigue bias. Offering a pick list of hundreds of Netflix shows is equally impractical. The list won’t fit on one page (especially on mobile), and we’ve noticed that consumer attention tends to wane beyond eight multiple choice answer options.

We ultimately used both approaches. We started with an open-ended survey asking 668 Netflix subscribers which shows they’ve watched in the past 30 days. After cleaning the data, we had a list of 51 shows licensed by Netflix mentioned by at least four respondents. We then checked this against the “Popular Shows” section on Netflix to make sure we weren’t missing any of those (we weren’t). For the Netflix Originals, we started with Wikipedia, checked Netflix.com again (which totally counts as work) and supplemented with Google searches. We ended up with 24 Netflix Originals in January.

We created our survey using a question format that displays a random list of eight shows to each respondent. Respondents simply check a box next to each show they have seen in the past 30 days. This approach eliminates the biases mentioned above, but reduces the effective sample size for each show. While we survey 2,255 total respondents, each Netflix Original was shown to approximately 751 respondents (2,255 total respondents * (8 randomly selected shows / 24 total shows in list) = 751, which has a 3.6% margin of error). Each licensed show was shown to approximately 353 respondents (2,255 total respondents * (8 randomly selected shows / 51 total shows) = 353, which has a 5.2% margin of error). Due to the smaller effective sample size for each show, the data will be a little noisy from month to month, especially for licensed shows. But that’s fine. We’re interested in the general trends over time.

If you’re in the media business and want more precise data or different questions, create your own survey, or join Survata Pro and we’ll do the heavy lifting for you.

Footnotes
1: We count a subscriber as anyone who has access to Netflix’s streaming service, even if they don’t pay. For January, 69% of our respondents said they pay for the subscription, and 31% use a friend or family member’s subscription.
2: Survey conducted on January 12th, 2016.