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Study: Web is the No. 1 media

A study shows Web media beating TV in the workplace, daily overall, and closing in on it at home.

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

Web media is the dominant at-work media and No. 2 in the home, according to a new report from the Online Publishers Association.

A research project, conducted by Ball State University's Center for Media Design, tracked the media use of 350 people every 15 seconds. The subjects represented each gender, about equally, across three age groups: 18 to 34, 35 to 49 and 50-plus. The people were monitored by another person for approximately 13 hours, or 80 percent of their waking day.

"Someone actually came into their homes and workplaces and had a handheld computer, every 15 seconds registering their media consumption and life activities," Pam Horan, president of the Online Publishers Association (OPA), told CNET News.com.

According to Horan, this is the first type of study of its kind. Previously, consumers were monitored for media usage by phone survey or diary method.

Not surprisingly, newspaper use peaked in the morning; that print media was consumed by 17 percent of the subjects between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. When this media was combined with Web consumption, the potential reach for advertisers climbed to 44 percent. During the same morning period, the number of consumers using magazines jumped from 7 percent to 39 percent, and from 44 percent to 62 percent for television.

"The point is that there is an incremental reach that someone can gain by putting together a multimedia campaign," Horan said.

A conservative estimate from the study says 17 percent of overall media is consumed via the Internet, and Horan notes that other researchers like Forrester have placed that number even higher.

The OPA-commissioned study also used census data to determine the spending habits of its 350 monitored subjects. Web dominant consumers' retail spending averaged $26,450, while the TV-dominant group's spending averaged $21,401.

Yet, studies have shown that only about 8 percent of advertising goes to the Internet, Horan said.

"I hear more and more from marketers that they have shifted their business to be more responsive and realign. There is an active movement by traditional advertisers to be able to explore platform strategies," Horan said. She believes that research studies are attracting the attention of advertisers and media buyers and may result in a faster shift in advertising dollars to match the actual statistics of consumer media usage.

Others agree.

In March, the Pew Internet and American Life Project published a report that found more than 50 million Americans per day in 2005 used the Web as their primary news source. It also noted that news gathering was the third most popular Internet activity. A research report released that same month from the Association of National Advertisers, in conjunction with Forrester Research, indicated that advertising money would likely follow those people.

Researchers conducting the OPA study also found a consistently direct correlation between offline referrals to Web sites and Web traffic. When PBS tells people they can find more info about the topic being discussed on PBS.org, people do go to that Web site. The same was found for print media referrals to online counterparts like the New York Times and NYTimes.com.

CNET Networks is a member of the Online Publishers Association. OPA's Eyes on the Internet 2006 Tour is sponsored by CBS Digital Media, CNET Networks, the New York Times Media Company and Reuters.com, among others.


Correction: This story incorrectly stated that the Web is the No. 1 daytime media. It is the No. 1 workplace media.