Online Media Use Grows While Budgets Shrink
Americans turn to their computers and other Internet-capable devices for entertainment when money is tight, according to a new report released by research firm comScore.
Though consumers shopped less online in 2009 compared to 2008 – they spent $206.9 billion, down for the first time in history – the comScore report shows that consumers' use of digital media climbed to record-breaking heights.
With more devices in circulation, from netbooks to smartphones, consumers can find friends, information and entertainment with just a click or a swipe. Better yet, access is generally free. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft's Bing and Hulu posted double and triple digit growth, feeding consumers' demand for connectivity and content without making a dent in their wallets.
According to the new report, entitled "The 2009 U.S. Digital Year in Review," here is a snapshot of today's digital consumer:
We want answers
Search queries per user grew 10 percent, while individuals who used search engines increased 6 percent. Google and Bing led among the search engines in terms of increases in market share. While Google still represents a majority share of the search market at 65.7 percent, Bing , first introduced in 2009, increased its market share by 49 percent to capture 10.7 percent of all searches.
We stay connected
For many people, social networking is a daily activity just like brushing their teeth. Social networking accounts for 11 percent of all time spent online. Facebook leads the way with 400 million active users. The average time people spent on Facebook per usage day increased 6 percent, from 22.3 to 23.7 minutes, while total monthly time spent on the site was triple that of the previous year. Twitter finished the year with nearly 20 million visitors in December 2009, up from just 2 million a year earlier. And even MySpace, the social networking site that was overtaken by Facebook earlier in the year, saw its MySpace Music grow at 92 percent as a result of its new strategic focus on entertainment.
We see more ads
As media consumption increased, so did exposure to ads. Not only are more Americans seeing ads, but they are seeing ads more frequently. Display ad impressions, which are a measure of the number of times ads appear on the pages viewed by Internet users, grew 21 percent. In 2009, Internet users saw 4.3 trillion ads, and that doesn't even include video ads.
We like to watch
Americans are not just watching movies and videos on their televisions. Six out of seven U.S. Internet users now view online video content on their computers or other wired devices at least once a month, an increase of 19 percent over 2008 figures.
Also, more people watch more videos for longer periods of time than ever before. In December alone, the average online viewer watched 187 videos, each lasting an average of about 4 minutes. That's over 12 hours of video-viewing time a month.
Hulu, the online video site known for its free TV episodes, continued its rapid ascent as one of the top video content providers. In December 2009, Hulu viewers watched a total of 97 million hours of programming, an increase of 140 percent from the previous December.
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