Research Behind the Numbers: Web Audience

Previously the province of the rich and intellectual, the web is now a marketing melting pot. Reporting on the update of three years of gathering data from more than 350,000 phone interviews, Bob Jordan, cochairman of The Media Audit, says, “What we’re seeing in the latest research are the late arrivals...minority participation rising sharply ...senior citizens and homemakers joining the web audience at an impressive rate.”

The Media Audit reports that households occupied by those over 50 increased their presence on the web by more than 51 percent in three years. Retirees alone increased 84 percent, with almost one-quarter of this demographic on the web. A more recent report by ComScore showed the group of 65-pluses increased Internet connectivity by 25 percent in the last year alone, through April, while the 55- to 64-year-olds reached a market penetration of 52 percent. Households with the eldest member in the 25- to 34-year-old age group still have the highest web penetration, at 68 percent.

The Media Audit acknowledged that blue-collar workers on the web increased 52 percent since 1998 with a 44 percent penetration. In fact, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, home Internet access of the blue-collar population is growing faster than that of any other occupational group at another 52 percent since March of 2000. Factory operators and laborers accounted for 9.5 million of the total Internet population in March of 2001.

Sean Kaldor, vice president at NetRatings, says that the Internet is no longer “an elitist country club reserved only for individuals with select financial abilities and technical skills.” The Pew Internet Project reported that those making less than $30,000 increased their Internet penetration by 26 percent to a 38 percent penetration in 6 months in 2000, while those earning over $75,000 grew only 4 percent, but still had an 82 percent penetration.

By the end of 2000, 44 percent of African American households were on the web, a 41 percent increase in three years. ComScore found 51 percent of U.S. African American households online as of April 2001, a 35 percent increase in one year. Looking at other groups, almost all Chinese Americans (97 percent) own a home computer, 60 percent of Chinese households in the U.S. and Canada have an Internet connection, and two-thirds are online everyday. Of those, 58 percent in the U.S. have investments, and 70 percent trade stocks an average of nine trades per month. And Hispanics and Asians are more likely to be online at home than Caucasians and African Americans, according to a study by Insight Research.

The study goes on to predict that this group will “grow several time faster than the rest of the population” in the next five years. The rate of growth of Hispanic household technology penetration over the last two years is 80 percent, compared to 21 percent for the overall market.

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