The 11 major Internet markets measured by Nielsen-Netratings experienced a four percent average increase in online population between the fourth quarter of 2001 and the fourth quarter of 2002. The US posted the greatest increase in the number of adults online over the same period with nearly 10 million people over the age of 16 gaining Net access. The US now accounts for 29 percent of the global Internet access universe, followed by Europe with 23 percent, Asia-Pacific with 13 percent, and Latin America with two percent.
In 2001, the last full year where numbers are available, the Department of Commerce presented e-commerce sales versus total U.S retail sales. It revealed that the $3.16 trillion retail industry saw a total of $37.7 billion in sales take place online -- comprising 1.2 percent of the total. This year e-commerce is tracking about the same. Through the third quarter, the last full quarter where numbers are available, total retail sales were $856 billion versus $11 billion in e-commerce, about a 1.3 percent share.
As stated earlier, there is a growing tendency amongst Internet users to pay for valuable content online. The following facts corroborate the trend towards value added services and the high importance users give to effective use of their time.
According to a research conducted by the Online Publishers Association consumer spending on online content has seen a steady increase every quarter since 2001. The first quarter of 2001 saw a spending of $118 million as compared to $228 million in the fourth quarter of 2001. The figures for the first, second and third quarter for 2002 are $296 million, $318 million, and $361 million respectively.
The total market for paid online content in the U.S. grew to $361.4 million for the third quarter, a 14 percent gain over the previous quarter. The market in the year 2002 is estimated to be around $ 1.3 billion. Over 10% of Internet users have paid for online content and this ratio is growing.
According to a study released by the Online Publishers Association (OPA), conducted by comScore Networks, US consumers spent $675 million on online content in 2001. This study concluded that consumers spent most money on Business Content, Entertainment, Personals and online dating. Other categories that saw a rise in spending are research, general news, games, community directories, credit and personal help, sports, and greeting cards.
A recent report on the US Market on Spending published by the Online Publishers Association and comScore indicates a change in the spending in terms of different categories. The Personals/Dating category surpassed Business/Investing content to become the leading paid content category in Quarter 3 of 2002, with $87 million in revenues, a 387% gain over the same quarter in 2001. Given below are the most popular paid content categories as per this report.
The most popular paid Content Categories