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High Growth Video and Social Network Sites

Online engagement by Internet users is deepening, according to a new market study by The Nielsen Company. This increased engagement is in part a result of a shift toward video content and social networking as popular online subcategories.

In particular, time spent on social networks and video sites has increased astronomically. Advertisers are starting to positively re-assess the value of the online experience and create more meaningful relationships with consumers.

Since 2003, interests of the average online user have shifted significantly. Categories that consisted of portal-oriented browsing sites, such as Shopping Directories and Guides and Internet Tools or Web Services, used to be the top categories for user engagement.

However, today the active Internet user tends to prefer sites that contain more specialized content. This change in preferences is seen in the fact that video and social networking sites have moved to the forefront, becoming the two fastest growing categories in 2009.

Highlights of the Nielsen report include:

- The number of American users frequenting online video destinations has climbed 339 percent since 2003.

- Time spent on video sites has shot up almost 2,000 percent over the same period.

- In the last year alone, unique viewers of online video grew 10 percent, the number of streams grew 41 percent, the streams per user grew 27 percent and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71 percent.

- There are 87 percent more online social media users now than in 2003, with 883 percent more time devoted to those sites.

- In the last year alone, time spent on social networking sites has surged 73 percent.

- In February, social network usage exceeded Web-based e-mail usage for the first time.

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