Commentary

Digital Consumer Behavior Recap, 2009

According to a recent comScore study recaping key trends in the U.S. digital media landscape, including e-commerce, search, online video, online advertising and mobile, total U.S. e-commerce spending reached $209.6 billion in 2009, down 2% versus the previous year and the first year on record with negative growth rates. Travel e-commerce spending dropped 5% to $79.8 billion, while retail (non-travel) e-commerce spending remained virtually flat at $129.8 billion.

Only a handful of retail e-commerce categories experienced growth. Books & Magazines topped the list of gaining categories bolstered by category-wide price-cutting and the release of numerous high-profile best-sellers. Computer software ranked second, followed by Sport & Fitness and Jewelry & Watches, which rebounded from an especially weak 2008.  

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Positive Growth in U.S. Retail E-Commerce Categories in 2009

Books & Magazines

12%

Computer Software (excl. PC Games)

7

Sport & Fitness

6

Jewelry & Watches

4

Video Games, Consoles & Accessories

3

Consumer Electronics

3

Computers, Peripherals, & PDAs

1

Source: comScore, Inc., February 2010

The U.S. core search market grew 16% overall in 2009, driven by a 6% gain in unique searchers and a 10% gain in searchers per searcher. U.S.

Core Search Market

 

% Change

 

UniqueSearchers

Searches per Searcher

Searches

Total U.S. Internet

6%

10%

16%

Google Sites

9%

10%

21%

Yahoo! Sites

-5%

3%

-2%

Microsoft Sites

15%

30%

49%

Ask Network

19%

-6%

12%

AOL LLC

-17%

-4%

-20%

Source: comScore qSearch (U.S.), February 2010

Social networking continued to gain momentum in 2009 with nearly 4 out of 5 Internet users visiting a social networking site in December 2009. The activity now accounts for 11% of all time spent online in the U.S., making it one of the most engaging activities across the Web.

2009 proved to be a landmark year in the U.S. social networking market, as category leader Facebook and upstart network Twitter both posted triple-digit growth. Facebook surged to the #1 position among social networks for the first time in May and continued its strong growth trajectory throughout the year, finishing with 112 million visitors in December 2009, up 105% during the year.

Twitter finished the year with nearly 20 million visitors to its website, up from just 2 million visitors from the previous year. Much of Twitter's extraordinary audience growth occurred during the first few months of 2009, at one point jumping from 4 million visitors to 17 million visitors between February and April.

Meanwhile, 2008 category leader MySpace has experienced some softening in its audience; however, a new strategic focus on entertainment content is exhibiting signs of success with MySpace Music having grown 92% in the past year. 

Throughout the Year U.S. Internet users viewed a total of 4.3 trillion display ads (standard and non-standard IAB ads, includes both static and rich media, but not video) during the past twelve months, representing a growth rate of 21% versus year ago. These gains were driven by an 8-percent increase in the number of people exposed to display ads online and a 12-percent increase in average frequency.

Top Ten U.S. Online Display Advertisers(Dec-08 to Nov-09)

Site

Number of Impressions in Millions

AT &T, Inc.

84,336

Verizon Communications Corp.

56,818

Experian Interactive

54,106

Scottrade

41,071

eBay

32,339

Ask Network

31,920

Microsoft

30,936

Netflix

27,997

Vertrue

27,555

Sprint Nextel Corp.

26,224

Source: comScore Ad Metrix (U.S.) February 2010

 

Top Ten U.S. Online Display Publishers(Dec-08 to Nov-09)

Site

Number of Impressions in Millions

Yahoo! Sites

521,245

Fox Int. Media

367,551

Facebook.com

329,629

Microsoft Sites

218,114

AOL LLC

192,192

Google Sites

69,856

eBay

36,360

Glam Media

24,793

Amazon Sites

21,710

United Online, Inc

19,484

Source: comScore Ad Metrix (U.S.) February 2010

The U.S. Online Video Market viewing accelerated in 2009, with 19% more people in the U.S. viewing more videos for longer periods of time, according to comScore Video Metrix. In December 2009, 86% of the total U.S. online population viewed video content. Americans also viewed a significantly higher number of videos in 2009 versus the prior year, due to both increased content consumption and a growing number of video ads being delivered. The average online viewer consumed 187 videos in December 2009 (up 95% vs. year ago), while the duration of the average video viewed grew from 3.2 to 4.1 minutes. 

U.S. Online Video Market (Average Online Viewer)

 

December 2009

December 2008

Unique Viewers (Millions)

178

150

Videos Viewed (Billions)

33.2

14.3

Videos per Viewer

186.9

95.7

Minutes per Video

4.1

3.2

Source: comScore Video Metrix (U.S.), February 2010

Key findings highlighted in the report include:

  • The U.S. core search market grew 16% in 2009, driven by a 6% gain in unique searchers and a 10-percent gain in search queries per searcher. Google and Bing led among the core search engines in terms of increases in market share.
  • Social networking continued to gain momentum in 2009 with nearly 4 out of 5 Internet users visiting a social networking site on a monthly basis and Facebook and Twitter propelling much of the growth in the category.
  • Display ad impressions grew 21% in 2009 as the online advertising sector increased its share of media spending. Growth was driven by an 8-percent increase in ad reach and a 12-percent increase in average frequency.
  • Total (retail and travel) U.S. e-commerce spending reached $209.6 billion in 2009, down 2% versus the previous year and the first year on record with negative growth rates. Nonetheless, e-commerce retail spending continued to increase its share of consumer spending in a challenging economic environment.
  • Six out of seven U.S. Internet users now view online video content in a month, with YouTube and Hulu continuing to experience rapid increase in viewership.
  • In the past year, the mobile industry witnessed smartphone ownership increase from 11% to 17% of mobile users, while 3G phone ownership increased from 32% to 43%.

For additional information and to access the PDF report, please visit comScore here.

2 comments about "Digital Consumer Behavior Recap, 2009".
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  1. Nicholas Theodore from Self-Employed, February 19, 2010 at 9:06 a.m.

    What I learned from this article is that print is nowhere near dead. People still read books. However, I would have liked to see books and magazines as separate categories.

    As for newspapers, they have brought misfortune upon themselves through complacency, lack of innovation, not keeping their eyes open to better spot trends, greed (since media barons sold out to corporations, profits increased by at least 10%, mostly through cutbacks), high salaries, and sweetheart working conditions.

  2. Barry Dennis from netweb/Omni, February 19, 2010 at 11:48 a.m.

    It's no surprise that Total Internet usage continues to grow: it's no surprise that Social continues to lead the way; it is surprising(?) that Mobile Internet is not growing more rapidly.
    New devices and Mobile apps are converging with accelerating numbers of Pipeline suppliers, device features and applications, and consumer, as well as business, demand.
    This research just confirms and highlights the potential for AAA (AnyTHing, AnyTime, AnyWhere).

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