August 10, 2011, 4:22 PM

For web activities, search and e-mail remain most popular

Social networking and web retailing trail their Internet elders, a Pew report says.

Allison Enright


Lead Photo

Using a search engine and reading and writing e-mail remain the two most-popular online activities of U.S. consumers, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit research group that studies consumer behavior and the Internet.

A survey conducted in May of some 2,200 U.S. adults via landline and mobile phones found that 92% of online adults use a search engine to help them find information on the web. 92% also use e-mail.

Search and e-mail have consistently ranked as the two most-popular activities since Pew began studying the online behavior of Americans in 2002, but the new report says the most significant difference is in how often Americans search and e-mail. 59%, or nearly six in 10 online adults, say they use search engines on a typical day, up from 29% in 2002. 61% say they use e-mail on a typical day, up from 49% in 2002.

Pew also says that relatively high-earning college graduates tend to use search more than do other consumers. But e-mail use is similar among white (93%), black (87%) and Hispanic (88%) consumers, although white consumers are more likely to consider e-mail as a typical everyday activity. 63% of white consumers say they send and receive e-mail on a typical day compared with 48% of blacks and 53% of Hispanics.

Other common Internet activities, in descending order of popularity, are getting news online, 76% today, up from 68% in 2002; buying products online, 71% today, up from 61% in 2002; and using social network sites, 65% today, up from 11% in 2005, the year Pew began tracking social network activity.

Comments | 1 Response

  • Interesting how quickly our digital landscape is changing, yet over 10 years, how much has stayed the same. With email so clearly still at the forefront of online activity, good reminder for marketers to not forget about email while integrating social channels.@SocialTIS @Lyris

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