rules! According to a four-year study conducted by Nielsen/NetRatings, Internet users spend nearly half their time viewing news or entertainment content, surpassing other online activities such as e-mailing, shopping or searching for information.The study, released by the Online Publishers Association
, tracked a 37 percent increase in amount of time spent viewing content such as online videos or news using OPA's Internet Activity Index (IAI), a monthly estimate of the amount of time spent online with e-commerce, communications, content and search.
From January through May 2007, users spent 47 percent of their time online with content, opposed to just 34 percent in 2003.
The availability and abundance of information, as well as faster online speeds, contributed to the increase. Perhaps most significant was the indication that "over the last four years, the primary role of the Internet has shifted from communications to content."
This trend is driven by the gradual transition from print to online news, especially in the days after major news events (e.g. hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war).
From the rising popularity of video to the improvement of online searches to the rise of instant messaging, users are better able to find and access information with speed and ease, thus increasing the time spent with the content they want and limiting the time spent in online limbo.
With all this time spent doing what can only be assumed as reading content, there's more pressure for those producing and publishing content
to provide better and more engaging material
Good thing the folks at Google News are two steps ahead of the trend. Recently, they announced
a new comments feature they are testing.
This endeavor allows the people or companies quoted in news articles to comment on those reports.
Google's goal is to "enhance the news experience for readers, testing the hypothesis that -- whether they're penguin researchers or presidential candidates-- a personal view can sometimes add a whole new dimension to the story."
Only time will tell how this new feature will fare, considering critics already question its ability to verify a source’s identity or screen for inaccurate statements.
But Google News is stepping up to the challenge to improve online content, which we now know people are spending more time reading, and that on its own deserves a commending nod.