Consumer Insight: Special report

Never has the consumer been more in control. Understanding consumers is more fundamental than ever to the job of any communications agency.

This report looks at some of the newest and most burning issues of consumer insight, beginning on this page with what has to be one of the biggest planning hot potatoes since advertising began. More than 1.1 billion people now use the internet, making it the most exciting place for a global branding campaign. But we're still a long way from a subtle understanding of how people use digital media. So should advertisers still be nervous? As we plough through the worldwide web's third decade, with more than 100 million sites at all our fingertips, there's a gigantic reservoir of information. The trick is to work out a real picture of how people use online and to keep up with them as they change their habits.

In the following pages, we take a closer look at one of the advertising bogeymen of the digital technology revolution - the personal video recorder. Will it prove to be the undoing of TV ad breaks as we know them?

We also measure up the growing Eastern European community in the UK and see the potential that it offers advertisers. And, at a time when the commuter is mobbed by an ever-growing amount of targeted media, we ask four people what grabs their attention on the way to work.