Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Consumers Consume More Online, Communicate Less

An interesting four-year analysis conducted by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) reveals that consumers are no longer using the ‘net predominantly for communications: the shift is now in favour of consuming content. This is no surprise, given that more and more content has become available online over the past few years.

The study revealed that time spent on content has increased 37% over the past four years. Time spent on search has also gone up (35%), although this represents just 5% of a user’s overall online activity.

What type of content are people viewing online? It ranges from news, to entertainment information, videos, and even checking the weather. Of course we can’t forget social networking Websites, which I’d argue (and OPA President Pam Horan acknowledges) represent not only the consumption of content, but also a new means of communication. Meanwhile, other burgeoning online communication methods, like instant messaging, have hampered the popularity of e-mail; although e-mail arguably still remains an extremely popular method of staying in touch (Blackberry, anyone?)

Marshall McLuhan is famous for having said that “the medium is the message”. In this case, the message is rapidly advancing technology. And that's always a good thing for the CE/IT industry!

The OPA’s index is derived from Web properties that account for approx. 90% of active Web users and approximately 55% of total usage time (excluding .gov, .edu, and domains of a pornographic nature).

For more information on the study, visit http://www.online-publishers.org/iai/.

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