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November 21, 2005

Searching for the number one slot on the Web

Using a search engine is now the No. 2 activity for Web users, catching up on email as the main reason to use the Internet.

By CBR Staff Writer

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the number of Web users taking advantage of search engines has risen sharply since mid-2004 from 30 per cent of the Web population in July 2004 to its current level of 41 per cent

The Pew project also found that those likely to spend more time on search engines tend to be in their 30s and well-off. The report added, Those who use search engines on an average day tend to be heavy Internet users. They are much more likely to have broadband connections than dial-up connections; to log on to the Internet several times a day; and to have spent considerable time online during the day.

Despite this, the top Internet activity remains email with some 52 per cent of all Internet users sending emails on a daily basis.

But although the number of daily email users has grown – largely due to increases in the number of people with online access – the percentage of the daily population accessing e-mail has dropped. It was 85 per cent in the 2004 survey.

The report also found that reading the news is now the third most popular Web activity. Until recently, search and news have been running neck-and-neck for the No. 2 spot among Internet tasks, said Lee Rainie, the project’s director. Email usage is also thought to have come under pressure from user fears about viruses and other email-delivered security threats.

The findings are supported by a similar exercise by comScore which found that average daily use of engines jumped 23 per cent from 49.3 million users to 60.7 million users from September 2004 to September 2005.

The evolution of search engines as everyday consumer Web tools has made them a vital resource for marketers, said comScore vice president James Lamberti. Search engines are obviously a critical vehicle in reaching consumers during the buy cycle, but they also offer a rich source for consumer profiling, segmentation and measurement of product demand. To date, we have only witnessed the preliminary impact of search engines on e-commerce.

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ComScore’s latest data found that Google was the most heavily used engine in October with 89.8 million unique visitors; followed by Yahoo, 68 million; MSN Search, 49.7 million; Ask Jeeves, 43.7 million; and AOL Search, 36.1 million.

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