OPA: Users Spending More Time At Entertainment And News Sites

Web users are spending more of their online time on news and entertainment sites and less time shopping, sending e-mails, and performing searches, according to research made public yesterday by the Online Publishers Association.

The report, the "Internet Activity Index," compiled using Nielsen//NetRatings data, found that Internet users this September spent a greater proportion of their surfing time--41 percent--visiting online news or entertainment-related sites such as CNN.com and Windows Media Player, up from 34.6 percent in September 2003. Surfers also spent less of their online time--39.8 percent--at communication-oriented sites, such as Yahoo! Mail, than last year, when they spent 46 percent of their Internet time at such sites.

The proportion of time spent at e-commerce sites, such as eBay, declined slightly--from 15.4 percent last September to 15.2 percent this September--while the share of time spent at search sites, such as Google, remained unchanged at 4 percent. For the study, the Online Publishers Association looked at 385 news, entertainment, and other content sites; 240 commerce sites; 62 communications sites; and 41 search sites.

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The increasing prevalence of broadband, which makes it easier to view rich media on content sites, appears to be fueling the surge in time spent at online news or entertainment sites, said Michael Zimbalist, president of the Online Publishers Association. When it comes to e-commerce, broadband allows people to shop faster online, so the time they spend at commerce-related sites can decline even as activity increases. In fact, despite the decreased share of time spent at e-commerce sites, such sites accounted for more page views--23 billion--this September than last year, when they had 21.7 views.

The Online Publishers Association will release updated Internet activity indexes monthly, said Zimbalist.

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