Shifting Internet landscape: Content is now king

Users cut back on using Web for communications, e-commerce

Internet users spend almost half their time online reading and watching content, dwarfing the time spent searching for information, communicating with others and buying products, according to a four-year analysis of Internet activity released Monday.

The new study from the US-based Online Publishers Association (OPA) found that the time Internet users spend viewing online content is up 37 percent from four years ago.

The study analyzes four years of data compiled in the association's Internet Activity Index (IAI), a monthly measure of online e-commerce, communications, search and content activity done by Nielsen/NetRatings.

While users in 2003 spent 46 percent of their time online communicating, they now spend 47 percent of their time viewing content, according to the study. Time spent using e-mail or instant messaging tools has dropped 28 percent over the last four years, while the time spent on e-commerce activities is down 5 percent over the same period. Users spend about 5 percent of their time online searching for data.

Pam Horan, president of the OPA, noted that the June decision by Nielsen/NetRatings to measure Web activity using a "total minutes" metric is a valuable supplement to other Web use analysis.

"The IAI has identified a very significant and sustained trend in where consumers are spending their online time," Horan said in a statement. "The index indicates that, over the last four years, the primary role of the Internet has shifted from communications to content."

The growing popularity of social networking sites with a heavy focus on content is helping to drive the shift toward spending more time with content, according to Horan. According to publishers group, other factors behind the changes include the following:

  • A faster Internet.
  • The increased popularity of online video.
  • Improvements in search tools, which are helping users find content more easily.
  • The large increase of the amount of content on the Web.
  • The increased use of instant messaging, which has led to a reduction in the time spent on communication activities.
The IAI measures Web sites that account for more than 90 percent of active Web users and 55 percent of total usage time. The monthly survey excludes .gov and .edu sites as well as pornographic sites.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?