OPA Continues Daypart Analysis

The Online Publishers Association (OPA) released on Monday more detailed information about the Web’s central role in people’s daytime activities.

The study found that 81 percent of the at-work audience is online in the morning, before lunch, and more than 25 percent of respondents said the Web is the only medium they consume during the daytime.

The OPA commissioned the analysis by Millward Brown IntelliQuest to gain deeper insights into how people use the Internet during work hours, and add to the online publishing industry’s push to make the Internet premier medium for marketing to consumers while they are at work. It divides the day into eight dayparts and examines 13 different online activities.

The OPA found that different demographic groups have different online usage patterns. Younger workers tend to check general and world news during the day over business news; older workers check their stocks after the market closes; and working mothers check weather frequently during the day and shop online in the evening. The complete study is available on the OPA Web site.

“What we’re doing with this study is providing more information on various demographics,” said Michael Zimbalist, the OPA’s executive director. “The longer people are online, the more they do, the more they spend, and the more varied their activities become.”

Millward Brown polled 1,416 Internet users over a week in January.

This push to understand Internet usage during different dayparts adds to a growing pile of daypart research from publishers, including studies by the Newspaper Association of America, Forbes.com, washingtonpost.com and the Wall Street Journal Online.

While the online publishing industry seems to agree on the importance of dayparts for drawing more spending from traditional advertisers, it has not come up with a standard way of breaking up the day. The OPA took a stab at this in February with the release of a set of five distinct dayparts for Internet activity. Yet the Millward Brown study uses TV’s approach, breaking up the day into eight parts.

“It was more a matter of convenience and mapping the dayparts as people see them,” Zimbalist said. “We think that online probably does have it’s own dayparts. Until online gets to the point where it’s bought in very small chunks, I don’t think there’s a need to get any more granular.”

The OPA is not the only industry body unsure of how exactly to divide the day. The industry’s two major measurement services, ComScore Media Metrix and Nielsen//NetRatings, offer daypart measurement services with different breaks.

Zimbalist said any industry standard would likely come from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). An IAB spokeswoman said the group has no plans to work on a standard in the next six months.

Online publishers have been on a roll of late. This past quarter, the online units of publicly traded media companies showed more solid growth, with New York Times Digital and Knight Ridder Digital both adding profits, even in the face of the war in Iraq. Some online advertising executives have said the industry fared much better than television, thanks to the flexibility it offers advertisers to easily tweak their campaigns to keep up with fast-changing events.

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