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Internet Activity Index – From communication to content

OK – this is what’s called a tipping point. Moving from most transactions being about communicatipon to one where most are about content is a shift. Now it’s doesn’t take a huge crystal ball to think that the next shift is about most interactions being social and context trumping the whole works as this stuff evolves.
Study: Primary role of the Internet shifting from communications to content
By Jacqui Cheng | Published: August 13, 2007 – 10:05PM CT
People are using time spent on the Internet to actually engage themselves in reading content more now than ever before, according to new data presented by the Online Publishers Association and Nielsen/NetRatings. The association released its four-year-long Internet Activity Index (IAI) today, which gauges people’s use of e-commerce, communications, content and search services over time. And while activities like e-commerce and communications still remain popular, reading and viewing content has skyrocketed between 2003 and today.
According to OPA, about 34 percent of Internet users’ time was spent reading content in 2003—at that time, content came in second to “communications,” which measured at 46 percent of Internet users’ time. However, as of May 2007, OPA reports that those numbers have practically reversed: content now commands 47 percent of Internet users’ time, and communications only 33 percent.
“The IAI has identified a very significant and sustained trend in where consumers are spending their online time,” OPA president Pam 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.”
This dramatic shift in focus toward content is explained by the transition of offline activities—such as reading news, browsing TV or movie listings, and checking the weather—to online, according to Horan. “Quality content sites see a consistent pattern—major news drives traffic spikes, but traffic remains consistently higher even after the event. Major news events such as Hurricane Katrina and high-profile seasonal events such as the NCAA Final Four Basketball tournament are clearly driving consumers to engage more deeply with online content,” she said.
But online video and social networking sites also deserve some credit, says the report, for driving traffic and keeping users there in order to watch and communicate with each other. But wait, doesn’t social networking count as “communication?” Well, yes, but not under OPA’s metric, which appears to only categorize e-mail as “communication.” Instant messaging also counts as content, according to OPA, which could also help explain content’s explosive increase in popularity in recent years. “IM is a more efficient communications vehicle than e-mail,” reads the report. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
However, it seems that e-mail’s popularity isn’t actually going down, but rather the availability of content to consume is going up. Anecdotally, my colleagues and I agree that we conduct more of our everyday lives online than ever before, by getting driving directions, checking movie listings, reading reviews, news and blogs, and creating content of our own. So much so, that our ratio of content consumption to e-mail communications actually is skewed heavily in favor of content, even though we send more e-mail today than ever before too. As Internet access becomes more and more ubiquitous, we will likely continue to see this pattern in the years ahead as people continue to shift their offline activities online. Now, if there was only a way to wire up our brains to access WiFi… ”
More here and here and here.

Posted on: August 16, 2007, 9:52 am Category: Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. OK, I’ll admit that there is a bit of information in this somewhere. Not sure if it is communication or content, though.
    Honestly, the only tipping point I see is the further proliferation of inane, made up categories and bad use of language.
    Can someone please define “communication,” “content” and “social” (your next change)?
    IM counts as content? I mean seriously!
    The other issue is that all that content is there to communicate, and unless someone wrote the content to only communicate with themselves then all of it–content and communication–is social.
    All communication–except that which goes on within one’s one head (and some won’t count that as communication)–is social. And there must be something that is being communicated. At least until someone chooses to define these concepts operationally, this is so.
    Where will this inanity end?
    Tipping point. Yep, we passed that a while ago.
    Oh, and have no doubt that the Online Publishers Association is an unbiased source for this information. E.g., see how IM is classed.