Posted September 17, 2009 4:18 pm by with 11 comments

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The Online Publishers Association has released the results of another study—a six year analysis of its Internet Activity Index. Can you guess which of the five areas (Commerce, Communications, Community, Content and Search) has grown the most—and which has shrunk?

The most surprising results actually aren’t in Community and Communications. Yes, email (Communications is down), the only area to fall over those six years. And Community is up, largely because it wasn’t being tracked in 2003. (If only Chuck Norris were here—you know, because he can divide by zero?). But we’ve seen that for six months

No, the big winner here looks to be content sites (the OPA’s pet project) and search. Percentage wise, search has actually grown the most, with a 111% increase in time spent on site over the 2003 numbers—but the raw numbers aren’t nearly so impressive.

Category 2003 Avg Time* (hours: minutes) 2009 Avg Time (hours: minutes) Change in Time
Content 3:42 6:58 +88%
Communications 5:20 4:54 -8%
Commerce 2:07 2:40 +26%
Community N/A 3:01 N/A
Search 0:27 0:57 +111%

*Note: 2003 average is May through December 2004, and 2009 average is January through May 2009.

Note, too, that total Internet time has increased 59% in those three years. Content sites now receive the most time on site (over half total Internet time), but communications is still the #2 activity. Community sites get one sixth of our online time.

I find the label “Communications” versus “Community” interesting. Most people, I find, are on community sites to communicate—whether with one friend or as many people as possible. Taken that way, the combined total time on those categories is 7 hours and 55 minutes—which beats content sites.

What do you think? Have you seen a decrease in communications and email, or do you think that’s kind of a false distinction from community sites?

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  • Good article Jordan,

    following on from your last content, I find that I actually use community or social media sites to find information. As an adjunct to straight searches, for example posting question on twitter if I am after some specific information.

    So yes I do go to community sites to communicate, but part of that purpose could also be classed as communicaton or search for content.

    But in 2003 email was about all i did to communicate, now I have to remember to check it.
    .-= Cam Gleeson´s last blog ..Why Rental and Hire Companies need Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) =-.

  • i love social networking..

  • We’re putting the finishing touches on a whitepaper that analyzes Moms usage of digital media and the trends influencing how they will be using digital in the next 1-3 years.

    As part of our research we conducted a small, unscientific survey (175 moms) and found most mom’s are anticipating their social media activities to plateau over the next few years (after the rapid period of growth we just experienced). However, out of the 24 activities we asked about, email ranked #1 for the answer – will use “more than I currently do”. We’re stunned to say the least.
    .-= Tom Kasperski´s last blog ..Marcom Strategy – The Basics (part 4) =-.

  • Good information to have!

    I think community should fall under the overall communications category – end of the day most of the time you are using the communities to communicate.
    .-= Manik Kinra´s last blog ..Web Designs – Dont commit these mistakes! =-.

  • Many people have been sounding the death knell for email recently. I wonder has anyone thought of breaking down each communication outlet into best use strategies? I mean, email must still have some merit, no?

    Here is a link to one of the more humourous eulogies for email:

  • Interesting observations. Regarding the decline in e-mail usage, I imagine the explosion of texting has been a factor.
    .-= Richard Barrington´s last blog ..Money Market Accounts, Money Market Funds, and September 18 =-.

  • Interesting observation and great writing!

    I think you are right in your attempt to group these categories together in a more 2009 manner. But doing that makes it impossible to get those % numbers we love so much(But I bet Chuck could do it (

    For example where is the online time that fanatic gamers(WOW and more) put in? Millions of people spend hours at a time gaming.

    They communicate, buy digital goods and consume “content”. I would love to see that as an added category in that report since the marketing potential is huge in that arena.

    What do you think?

  • Very interesting article and statistics. I think that it is highly important to have strategies in both aspects of communication and community. Obviously community and social networking is growing at an exponential rate, but communication is still something that should be focused on to meet the needs of the late adopters.
    .-= Mailing Lists´s last blog ..This is a test run – Data Advisor Week of May 03 =-.

  • I have really missed the social media boat. I don’t get it…email is simpler, more direct and instant and if I had to go to facebook, linkedin, etc to mail someone I don’t think I would bother.

    I suddenly feel like a neanderthal man struggling to come to terms with the concept of fire but hey, perhaps time and my age has finally caught up with me…
    .-= mark harrison´s last blog ..Guarantor loans UK =-.

  • I am not one for specific numbers and charts, but this is interesting about how people are spending their time. There’s a whole world out there.
    .-= Jan Middleton´s last blog ..Positive Attitude:Your Words are Powerful =-.