From 133,900 Internet users in the year 2000 to 44.61 million at the end of 2017, the Internet penetration has reached more than 22 percent of the Pakistani population, according to Internet World Stats. The connections have also improved in speed and cost effectiveness.
Technological changes have contributed to changing the ways in which audiences access and consume news and information and engage in discourses in the public sphere. Social networks are more popular in Pakistan than blogs and news websites as a venue for sharing user-generated content. There are around 32 million Facebook users from Pakistan. At the end of 2016, there were 3.9 million active Instagram users. As of July 2016, there were 3.1 million users of Twitter.
One of the reasons behind increasing social media users in the country is the penetration of 3G/4G technology in Pakistan. There are 146 million cellular subscribers (72 percent teledensity), 49 million 3G/4G subscribers (24.44 percent penetration) and 52 million Broadband subscribers (25.6 percent penetration) in the country, according to Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.
Despite the somewhat smaller number of its users, Twitter has become the preferred social network of Pakistani politicians, celebrities, journalists and social activists, who often use tweets as a medium to express themselves and engage with the public.
The conventional news media as well as civil society organisations increasingly use social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to draw attention to their content.
Entertainment programmes and current affair talk shows are uploaded and accessed on Pakistani and international video-sharing websites and platforms, such as YouTube, Dailymotion, Tune.PK and Zem TV.
In January 2016, Pakistan lifted a 2012 ban on YouTube in Pakistan. The website was blocked after a video posted on it led to widespread protests and complaints of blasphemy and injury to religious sentiments. After the website was unblocked in January 2016, users were redirected to a local version, YouTube PK.
The total digital advertisement revenue for Pakistan was PKR1bn in FY 2011-12. Google predictably topped the list with PKR0.25bn (25 percent of market share in the segment), followed by Facebook (PKR0.1bn). The top 15 websites in terms of advertisement revenue included a number of Pakistani media organisations, including Jang.com.pk (PKR0.08bn), Geo.tv (PKR0.05bn), Dawn.com (PKR0.04bn), Express.com.pk (PKR0.022bn, Brecorder.com (PKR0.02bn) and Tribune.com.pk (PKR0.018bn).
In FY 2014-15, digital advertising revenue had risen to PKR3.54bn. In FY 2015-16, digital revenue rose further to PKR4.5bn, which was 6 percent of the overall advertisement revenue across all media over that period.