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Study Tracks Web's Rise to a Mass Media

The Online Publishers Association (OPA) announced the results of a new research project, "A Day in the Life: An Ethnographic Study of Media Consumption." The observational media usage study is being discussed throughout the OPA's 2006 Eyes on the Internet Tour.

The unprecedented observational research tracked the real-time media use of 350 people, recording their actual activities every 15 seconds. The results show that the Web is now clearly a mass media -- ranking right alongside other major media when it comes to reach and duration of use. And when it comes to at-work media use, the study found that the Web clearly dominates (with 54.6 percent reach, compared to television's 21.1 percent), and is the only medium that ranks among the top two at both work and home.

OPA commissioned Ball State University's Center for Media Design to conduct the study, which is most detailed and in-depth analysis to date of the Middletown Media Studies data.

"By observing people in real-life situations, this study provides a level of accuracy and insight that simply cannot be found elsewhere," said Pam Horan, OPA president. "With that in mind, the evidence of the Web's rise to mass media status is now clear and incontrovertible."

Horan continued, "Industry data shows that the Web takes up between 20 and 25 percent of consumers' overall media time, but attracts about 8 percent of advertising dollars. While advertisers have been steadily moving to the Web in recent years, this research indicates the shift should be on a much faster pace. As a mass media with a powerful ability to extend the impact of all media, the Web clearly offers tremendous untapped advertising opportunities."

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