Friday, August 24, 2007

Content or Communication (1)

On August 13, 2007 the Online Publishers Association (OPA) published a press release about their 4 years running research into the use of internet, known as the Internet Activity Index (IAI). The study is looking into the activities: Content, Communication, Commerce and Searching (CCCs). The conclusion in the press-release was in the headline: Web users now spend half their time visiting content, far outpacing time spent with search, communications and commerce. This message must have been music to the ears of the OPA members, who are internet publishers and traditional publishers turned to cross-media publishers. But I would start wondering about this conclusion, despite the fact that the study is now running for its fourth year.

Let us have a look at the definition or better description of the mission of the Internet Activity Index (IAI): IAI provides a new way of looking at consumer engagement online, dividing Internet usage into four distinct activities: content, communications, commerce and search, defined as follows:
- Content - Web sites and Internet applications that are designed primarily to provide news, information and entertainment. Examples of those included in this segment are,, Windows Media Player and MapQuest.
- Communications - Web sites and Internet applications that are designed to facilitate the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information directly between individuals or groups of individuals. Examples of those included in this segment are Yahoo! Mail, AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Groups.
- Commerce - Web sites and Internet applications that are designed for shopping online. Examples of those included in this segment are Amazon, eBay, and
- Search - Web sites and Internet applications that scan the Web to provide prioritized results based on specific criteria from user-generated requests. Examples of those included in this segment are Google Search, MSN Search and Yahoo! Search.

IAI was started in 2003 with a monthly measuring of the various activities. In those four years internet has changed fast in the activities and in the way of distribution (fixed line and mobile). For example: content on internet started mainly as text information. However, the mono mode information changed after 2003 rather speedily to multimedia content, rendering text, graphics, audio and video and combinations of these types. Music (download and streaming) and from 2006 onwards video (download and streaming) started to succeed text as independent music and video services, but also as part of existing text services. Also distribution has changed as mobile portals have become almost a separate track on the internet.

The categorisation of the content activity has not changed over the years: Personals/Dating, Business/Investment, Entertainment/Lifestyle, Research, Community-made directories, Personal Growth, General News, Games, Credit Help, Greeting Cards, Sports; excluded from the content category are .gov and .edu Web sites, as well as pornographic domains (this must be American Puritanism; a competing research organisation nicely categorises this phenomenon as adult entertainment). Besides the exclusions, you can wonder about audio and video entertainment such as iTunes and YouTube. But what about community generated news and citizens’ journalism? As it stands IAI is not a real content index, but an index for the traditional publishers turned cross-media publishers (but not fully).

But there is more. Is YouTube now content or communication? Read more about it tomorrow.

Blog Posting Number: 847


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