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SME: Use of AI, digital media grows exponentially in Puerto Rico

Along with the growth of AI, activity in news and entertainment media, social networks and e-commerce has increased.

An estimated 59% of digital media users in Puerto Rico are aware of artificial intelligence (AI) and of those, four out of 10 — or 40% — have used it. This represents a significant increase compared to 2023 when only 6% had used AI, according to the findings of the 2024 Puerto Rico Digital Trends Study presented by the Puerto Rico Sales and Marketing Executives Association (SME) at the SME Digital & Innovation Forum.

“This jump in usage doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with the level of consumer confidence, whose main fears about AI are the use it may be given to convey false information on political and election issues, as well as the possible replacement of jobs,” said Anitza M. Cox of Estudios Técnicos Inc.

Currently, AI’s main users tend to be men aged 18 to 24 who are in college, saying they use it for studies (50%), out of curiosity (15%) and for work (15%). The top three AI systems that respondents said they have are ChatGPT (32.9%), CapCut (5.9%) and Grammarly (4.9%). About 5% of the participants confirmed they pay for some type of AI system.

Along with the growth of AI, activity in news and entertainment media, social networks and e-commerce has also increased, she noted.

“On a typical day, the average consumer spends about five hours on digital media, according to data obtained from the respondents’ mobile phones. This duration is greater by generation, for example, Generation Z spends 6.4 hours on average on these media,” added Cox.

“This year, both news and entertainment consumption increased, as well as the credibility and level of trust of that consumer. Local and news media generate the most trust,” Cox added, noting during her presentation that mobile devices still dominate when it comes to accessing digital media.

Juan Carlos Pedreira, who chaired the Digital Study committee, said that in this regard, Puerto Rico “doesn’t behave like the U.S. [mainland], where the trend of connecting to the internet at home still prevails.”

For the fifth consecutive year, News is my Business ranked among Puerto Rico’s independent news outlets with a following among the SME’s survey participants.

For the fifth consecutive year, News is my Business ranked among Puerto Rico’s independent news outlets with a following among the SME’s survey participants. The category included Noticel (18.1%), El Calce (8.8%), Sin Comillas (2.4%), and News is my Business (1.2%).  

This year the category of independent journalism media was added, in which users mentioned the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (6.1%), Sandra Rodríguez Coto (5.6%), Bonita Radio (4.4%), Ey Boricua (3.4%) and Marea Ecologista (1%) as their preferred outlets.

Regarding local press and news media with an online presence, responders mentioned El Nuevo Día (51.3%), Primera Hora (49.6%), El Vocero (40.1%) and Metro (36.9%). The main local TV and radio media with an online presence are Wapa.tv (45.5%), Telemundo.pr (40.6%), TeleOnce.com (26.7%), la mega.fm (20.3%), lax.fm (16.9%), notiuno.com (13.9%), fidelitypr.com (13.7%), lanueva94.lamusica.com (12.5%), Salsoul.com (11.7%) and Radioisla.tv (8.6%).

In the use of social networks, the percentage of people with profiles increased from 91% to 93% in 2024, and all social networks experienced an increase in the number of users and activity. Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are the favorite networks of Puerto Ricans for searching for information about brands, news and current events, as well as viewing content from influencers and personalities, the study confirmed.

As in previous editions, the SME commissioned the study to Estudios Técnicos, which for the past 19 years has measured trends in digital media and internet user behavior among people aged 12 and older on the island. The survey included a sample of 1,000 people, representative of the Puerto Rican population.

The Digital Trends Study was conducted between April and May through personal surveys in households across the island level, representative of Puerto Rico’s population by age, gender, income level and region.

In 2024, 53% of consumers follow personalities, or influencers, on social media, and what primarily  motivates them to do so is that they agree with their values (24.6%), that they help them stay informed of news and events (23.1%), and that they provide them with advice to be a better person (21.1%). In line with what they look for from the personalities they follow, they mention many “micro” and “nano” influencers, as well as the best-known public figures.

E-commerce channels grow
The study revealed that all e-commerce channels showed a significant jump in 2024, as did the amount of money consumers spent on purchases with home delivery or mail delivery. Six out of every 10 Puerto Ricans made online product purchases, and a similar proportion used on-demand services such as money transfers and transportation.

“The study gives relevance to the importance of digital media and social networks in consumer purchasing processes. In the 30 days before the study [March 2024], it’s estimated that 270,000 people bought a product because they saw advertising for that product on social media,” added Cox.

The median purchase of products or services online was $418, while in 2023 it was $358. The top products they purchased included clothing (56.3%), electronics (28.3%), beauty products (27.2%), and auto parts or accessories (24.7%).

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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