Five Personalities Emerge From Broadband Users

Broadband users are often characterized as “one homogenous group of people,” says Josh Crandall, managing director of Media-Screen, a strategic market research firm that published “Netpop | Portraits” as part of its Netpop Research series of data.

Broadband growth has continued at a 60 percent compound annual growth rate, reaching one-third of all Americans over age 13. Its adoption has created a population of five segments with unique characteristics: content king; social clicker; online insider; fast tracker; and everyday pro.

The content king looks to the Web for entertainment. Seventy-six percent of the group plays games online, and 75 percent of Web site visits are for personal reasons. Content kings spend an average 2.5 hours online each weekday.

“Content kings are typically younger in age and really drive growth in entertainment activities online,” said Cate Reigner, research director at Media-Screen.

Social clickers, who skew both young and old, use the Internet as a means of communication. The younger group uses social networking sites, IM, and other messaging tools to socialize, while the older group hinges its Internet use and communications more on e-mail. Within the group, 78 percent contribute to Internet content or information on a monthly basis. More than half of social clickers’ time (57 percent) is spent on communications. The remainder is spent on news and information (10 percent) and shopping (8 percent).

The online insider consumes content across the broader Web. According to the report this person sees the Internet as “a rich personal and cultural phenomenon.” Behavior among online insiders is like that of early adopters. Eighty-six percent contribute to Internet content or information each month, including posting to blogs, community sites, and chat rooms. The group spends upwards of $130 each month on e-commerce.

“This is the group that’s going to vet new products and try things,” said Reigner. “They will vet for other groups and users who come along behind them.”

Fast trackers typically use the Internet to seek out news and information. Content categories include news, sports, and weather. Fast trackers remain loyal to sources with frequent updates and real-time information.

“They are looking at a lot of pages online, consuming a lot of inventory, and are receptive to advertising as well,” said Crandall. “[With them] it’s a little bit of an addiction, refreshing their browser window.”

The group reads news online (77 percent). It also typically looks up maps, directions, and public transportation information (66 percent). Reigner said fast trackers use the Internet to research products but typically buy in stores.

The everyday pro is characterized by personal productivity and efficiency and looks to the Internet to fulfill those needs. The group adopts complex tools to simplify life. About 84 percent use online banking, and 68 percent purchase from online retailers.

“This group is older in age, and they are very much focused on the Internet as a productivity tool,” said Reigner. “They like to save money and time, and the Internet is a tool for total efficiency.”

Media-Screen conducted an online survey of 4,190 members of the Global Market Insite panel. Respondents were 13 years of age and older and were offered cash incentives to take the survey. Start rates for the survey were representative of the U.S. Internet population based on age and gender.

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