Current economic conditions, such as the financial industry bailout, are taking their toll on e-commerce. The Online Publishers Association finds online transaction volumes at its all-time low in October 2008 as measured by the group’s Internet Activity Index (IAI).
Time spent on commerce sites dropped from 16.1 percent in January to 12.8 percent in October. OPA estimates a 20.4 percent dip for the category in that period. Consumers spent time on trading sites in October, but the report states it wasn’t enough to offset a significant drop in time spent with other online commerce activities.
Content increased by 6.1 percent from January to October. The category rose from 42.7 percent at the start of the year to 45.3 percent in October. Internet users have more opportunity to consume content, as networks, news sites, and other publishers continue to create media for the Web. Current events also lend themselves to online activity.
“The October Internet Activity Index demonstrates that consuming content is the dominant way people spend time online,” said OPA president Pam Horan in a statement. “The economy, the election, and other current events have driven even greater interest than usual, as consumers turn to the Internet for vital news and financial information.”
Another category that saw growth was community. Between January and October, communities grew from 7.5 percent to 8.7 percent, a 16 percent spike. The report advises, “Community saw a large increase during 2008, due largely to increased use of Facebook, however it continues to account for a relatively small share of consumers’ time spent online.”
Communications is another area where time spent dipped. In January time spent was 28.7 percent, and October was 28 percent, a 2.4 percent decrease. Communications tends to be e-mail sites and other platforms for communication. The loss could be due to an increase in communication through Facebook and text messaging.
The IAI showed the following percentages of change between January and October:
- Content: 6.1%
- Communications: -2.4%
- Commerce: -20.4%
- Community: 16.0%
- Search: 4.0%
The OPA IAI is compiled by Nielsen Online. The IAI is derived from a categorization of Web properties.