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Studies: Net use, classifieds up

Two new studies illustrate the explosive growth of the Internet both in user base and classified advertising dollars.

Two new studies are lending weight to the widespread suspicion that the Internet is growing.

The number of U.S. users of the World Wide Web grew by at least 10 million people between August 1997 and January 1998, according to a study by RelevantKnowledge. The study found that 55.4 million Americans used the Web at least once in the previous month from home, work, or school.

Web users 11 years old and younger were not included in the survey results.

Among those surveyed, 57 percent of the Web's population ages 12 and older were found to be male. The largest age group is between 18 and 34 years old.

Thirty-six percent of Netizens are "business users," which RelevantKnowledge defines as those 18 years old or older who access the Web at least once per month from computers located at work that are not shared by more than three people.

Another pair of studies predicted that Internet classified ads are poised for substantial growth in the next four years. At a conference sponsored by classifieds technology provider Electric Classifieds (ECI), analysts from Jupiter Communications and Forrester Research predicted that the market for online classifieds would grow to $1.9 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively.

Analysts at the conference were hesitant to assess the current value of the classifieds market, according to ECI marketing director Tom Barquineros, but one high-end estimate was about $100 million. Barquineros noted for purposes of comparison that the print classifieds market is expected to grow from about $16 billion today to $20 billion in 2002.

He also said the explosive growth in online classifieds would come as increased bandwidth made way for audio, video, and photographs, and improved security increased the prevalence of online transactions.