Internet users spent more time with content, according to data published by The Online Publishers Association (OPA), in cooperation with Nielsen//NetRatings, showed an increase in traffic to content sites in March. The report, called the Internet Activity Index (IAI), compared online trends from March 2005 with data from previous months this past year. The study looks at consumer engagement online, dividing Internet usage into four categories; content, communications, commerce and search.
“This is a macro view of Web activity, through this macro view you can infer some things on what is happening in the culture at large,” Michael Zimbalist, president of the OPA, told ClickZ Stats.
Activity in two of the four categories showed increases compared to February of this year. Only commerce dipped slightly, from 18.5 percent to 17.8 percent, attributed to a post-holiday season fall-off that commences after Valentine’s Day.
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More positive growth was seen in the communications and content segments. These experienced growth over the previous month from 39.9 percent to 40.3 percent, and 37.0 percent to 37.4 percent, respectively. The OPA speculates the increase in communications traffic may reflect at-home student activity over spring break. The content swell is attributed to the high-profile news and sports events that took place in March.
“The increase in content consumption reported by the OPA is largely reflective of what we’re seeing in our March data,” said Graham Mudd, senior analyst at comScore Networks. “The NCAA tournament clearly played a significant role the increase in time spent at content sites. While the number of total sports category visitors increased by 7 percent, the amount of time spent at sites in the category jumped by 35 percent. Time spent at the News/Information category, which reached more than 100 million people, increased by 31 percent.”
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One category that reportedly slipped from previous volume was search, falling to 4.5 percent in March from 4.6 percent in February. The same figure from March of 2004 reported time spent at 3.5 percent.
The IAI report data is refreshed monthly by the Online Publishers Association. Statistics were compiled from Web properties spanning a reported 90 percent of active Web users and takes into account an approximate 55 percent of total usage of time. The research excludes .gov, .edu and pornographic sites from the findings.
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