Content still king on the Net

Even with all the options available to them online, people still spend a good chunk of their time at content sites. Also: community sites are increasingly where people communicate.

The Internet offers everything from searching to shopping to social networking, but Net users still spend most of their time on plain old content sites, according to a survey from the Online Publishers Association.

In the latest installment from its monthly Internet Activity Index, the OPA reported that Internet users are now spending 42 percent of their time online using content sites, more than any other category. That figure represents a 24 percent jump from 2003 when Net users spent 34 percent of their time on content sites.

Content sites include those that offer news, information, and entertainment, such as NYTimes.com, ESPN.com, MapQuest.com, and Edmunds.com.

Analyzing five different categories--commerce, communications, community, content, and search--the OPA also found that people are gravitating to community sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, at the expense of communication sites or software that provide just e-mail or instant messaging.

How Internet users spend their time online.
How Internet users spend their time online. Online Publishers Association

"In 2008, we introduced the Community category based on the emergence and popularity of sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn," Pam Horan, president of the OPA, said in a statement. "These new sites have had significant impact on the Communications category, which saw a 41 percent decline, due to the fact consumers are using Community sites where they can conduct these same activities more efficiently."

Among the other categories, people spend 5 percent of their time on search sites, up slightly from 3 percent in 2003, and 13 percent of their time at commerce sites, down from 16 percent five years ago.

The OPA also tracked how much time per month, on average, that people spend in a particular category. Net users will stay almost 7 hours at a content site, around 3 hours at a community site, and just under an hour at a search site.

How much time Net users spend online per month.
How much time Net users spend online per month. Online Publishers Association

Launched in 2003, the Internet Activity Index is conducted and compiled by Nielsen Online and posted online each month at the OPA Web site.

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