Nielsen data indicates Internet activity declined in February

Average web use declined in all categories Nielsen tracks during February 2010, with most web brands losing traffic and seeing visitors spending less time on a particular site.
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According to a Nielsen Company report, “Topline U.S. Web Data for February 2010,” Internet usage dipped across the board in February, compared to the prior month.

>> The average sessions/visits per person dipped 7.3 percent, from 55 to 51.

>> Domains visited per person dropped 2.2 percent, from 90 to 88.

>> Web pages visited per person declined 7.9 percent, from 2,621 to 2,415.

>> The amount of time each person spent on the web dropped 7.8 percent, from 58 hours, 52 minutes and five seconds to 54 hours, 16 minutes and 37 seconds.

>> The average time a web page was viewed went from 56 seconds to 55 seconds, or a 0.4 percent dip.

>> Even more interesting is that the total number of active web users fell from approximately 203.1 million to approximately 201.2 million, or a 0.9 percent decline.

In looking at the top web brands, including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MSN, YouTube, Microsoft, AOL, Wikipedia, Apple and Fox, all experienced a drop in the amount of time web users were spending on each. In terms of traffic increase, Facebook registered a 2.1 percent increase in numbers, followed by MSN at 1.1 percent and Google at 0.5 percent. All others lost audience.

What does this mean, if anything? If one looks back at Nielsen data from January, there is an indication that perhaps U.S. web users are beginning to get more efficient with their web use. Monthly time on the web dropped in January from just over 64 hours in December (consider that it also represents a month of high web use due to online shopping) to 58 hours in January. The duration of time a web page was viewed dipped slightly, too -- down 0.2 percent at 56 seconds. However, the total number of web users rose in January from 195.7 million to 203.1 million. And, each user logged more web sessions, visited more domains and looked at more web pages.

--Michael Hodgson

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