UK web analytics company Hitwise recently analyzed the most significant online categories in UK (see graph below) and how their situation changed in the past three years in terms of traffic generated (visits) by each of these categories. Some of these categories have increased their traffic significantly, and as a consequence, the user time spent on these type of websites as well.
If content oriented categories, such as Entertainment (including YouTube & iPlayer), Computers & Internet (including Facebook, Twitter, etc) or News & Media (BBC, ITV, Sky, etc) have increased their share of online visits, the more transaction oriented categories (Shopping & Classifieds, Business & Finance and Travel) have slowly declined in web traffic.If the above web site categories were grouped into content vs. transactions, the trend becomes much more clear. If around 2006 content and transactional websites were driving similar amounts of web visits, the gap between the two categories grow more and more with content oriented web sites driving almost double the amount of web traffic as compared to transactional web sites.
What this tells us is that people spend more time online browsing for information, networking with other people or having fun rather than buying things, a trend probably also augmented by the global economic crisis and the decrease in consumer spending in the past year.
While we can say that Internet usage has not significantly changed in terms of volume, the paradigms of how people use the Internet appear to be changing continuously. One of the testimonials to support this is a recent BBC article (based also on Hitwise UK data) that shows that social networks have overthrown the porn web sites domination in terms of consumer time spent online.Although the information above depicts trends and data related to the UK market, these trends do picture how the things look or will look like in the near future for other markets, such as Central and Eastern Europe ones. Of course, working in these respective markets, one has to account for all the peculiarities of the countries in discussion, since almost all of them are, in a way or another, “atypical.”