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New Study Reveals: Content is King… Not Social Media

blogs_are_ticket[1]A conversation I constantly have with my clients is how important unique great content is to  helping them “Getting Found Online” so when the study by “Online Publishers Association” came across my screen recently, it was good to find more hard numbers to back up the evangelism. 

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The study on online activity titled the “Internet Activity Index” released by  the Online Publishers Association shows the  trends of the types of activity that have ocurred on the Internet over the past 6 years. The study’s findings has important implications for online marketers and how they should be focusing their time, resources and strategies in 2009 and beyond.

The 5 Categories and the the types of sites that were measured were:

  • Content (Sites like NYTimes.com, ESPN.com and Edmunds.com (Content sites)
  • Communications (websites offering email, and Instant messaging)
  • Community (Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn)
  • Commerce (such as Ebay, Amazon)
  • Search (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc) 

So what were 5 Key findings of the study?

  1. Internet users continue to spend a majority of their “time” with Content sites, up from 34 percent of total time spent in 2003 to 42 percent in 2009, a 24 percent increase
  2. Emergence of Community (it wasn’t measured in 2003 as it wasn’t statistically significant enough and not on the radar)
  3. Content is still king; the content rich sites continue to be a place where consumers spend the majority of their online time and provide an environment for brand marketers to reach and engage with consumers despite the emergence of  community sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace
  4. Community sites are reducing the share of online time by communications sites due to community sites ability to offer the same activities such as email and instant messaging more efficiently
  5. Time spent with Search doubled 


When comparing how people used the Internet in 2003 with how they use the Internet today, the Online Publishers Assocation found a number of factors behind the changes, including monthly average time per person:

Change in “Time Spent” of Each Categories Internet Activity

Category 2003 Avg Time*
(hours: minutes)

2009 Avg Time (hours: minutes)

Change in Time
*Note: 2003 average is May through December 2003, and 2009 average is January through May 2009.


When we shift from Internet Activity Index’s time spent to the share of online time each category attracts over six years, we see significant changes as to how consumers spend their online time.

The 5 Categories Share of Time of Online Activity


2003 Avg Share*

2009 YTD Share

Change in Share












Community N/A








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

The share of time helps to provide further context. For example, Content consumption, as a share of online time, surpasses Communications as the leading way online audiences spend their time. Furthermore, although time spent with Search doubled, its share of time is very small and has only increased by two percentage points. Monthly time spent with Communications decreased by less than half an hour, but declined by 41 percent as a share of a consumer’s online time.

Note: The Online Publishing Associations Internet Activity Index is derived from a categorization of Web properties accounting for more than 90 percent, on average, of active Web users and approximately 55 percent of total usage time.

 So the top takeaway from this study for me is:

“Consumers Spend More Time Online with Content (+ 24% since 2003) than Community and Communications and its importance for getting found online should be given priority and with the emergence and growth of Social Media from nowhere 6 years ago and the continuing growth and importance of Search (+ 67% since 2003) pursuing an integrated approach to Online marketing involving all 3 elements of Content, Social Media and Search is vital and from this has emerged the New Rules of Marketing.. that your company ignores at its peril.

“So if  content is King?  “How Do You Best Optimize and Utilize Your Content for Social Media” .. and what are the “New Rules of Marketing” well that’s for another blog post. 

So have you already realised the importance of publishing great unique content for your website?… or are you still thinking about it, looking forward to hearing your stories.

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