According to a time use survey compiled by comScore dergh Metric, the average American spends 33.9 hours on the Internet every week. Depending on age and other demographics, this number can double! And for those lucky individuals whose occupations rely primarily on computers: the Internet commands their lives and they are never not connected.
Computers have drastically changed the technological landscape. The Internet has facilitated efficiency in a number of offline processes. We use the web to communicate with our family, friends and business acquaintances in real-time chats. Books and other multimedia are available for online viewing and instant download. We can even shop for gifts online – often offered at a deeper discount than in brick-and-mortar stores! The Internet has revolutionized the way that we live, as we now spend one-sixth of our lives in the digital world.
Exhibit 1: 100 Most-Visited Websites by category, according to Google Ad Planner
Where are we actually spending our time online?
Google has compiled a list of the 100 most-visited websites in the United States. (Being the modest company that they are, Google has chosen to omit their website and statistics from the study.) These 100 websites are sorted into six categories: social networking, search engines, shopping, entertainment, business and software.
The Internet can deliver information instantaneously, so naturally search engines and other information-related websites comprise the most popular category – sites ranging from web portals, such as Yahoo! and Bing, to encyclopedias and other how-to pages, such as Wikipedia and eHow. Closely tailing search engines are online shopping and other e-commerce websites – pages such as Amazon, eBay and Walmart – followed, in descending order, by the categories Entertainment, Social Networking, Business and Software.
Social networks are defined as any and all websites that are personal communities, professional networks, blogs, dating communities, deal of the day websites and other content sharing sites. It is significant that social media occupy the fourth largest category, as these websites have only gained popularity within the past few years. In fact, two of the top three websites in America are “social” sites. The number one site, Facebook, is the largest social network in the world with over 800 million loyal users. YouTube trails behind this social giant as the second most popular social network, and the third most popular website in the US.
Which social sites are Americans frequenting the most?
Americans have become fully absorbed in the social networking infrastructure. According to Nielsen, social media has engrossed 22% of our total time online. The chart, “Total Reach of Social Networks,” reveals the percentage of Americans that are logged-in to the 15 most-popular networks in the country. The most popular social network is Facebook, with a total national reach of over 67%. Close in proximity is YouTube, with 54.7% of the population viewing, sharing and commenting on videos posted by others around the globe. Other social networks are used by less than half of the population – networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn, and blogging websites such as Blogspot and WordPress.
Another sub-category of social networks has made it to the top-100. Within the past year, the deal-of-the-day industry has flourished. There are dozens of competing websites, but the two that have thus far generated the bulk of the traffic and seized the largest marketing share are Living Social and Groupon. Consumers flock to these websites for the great discounts on a variety of products, services and activities. Only 5% of the United States population is connected to these sites. However, in another year it is predicted that the reach of these sites will more than double as the popularity of these sites is accelerating at an enthusiastic rate.