April 17, 2013, 1:52 PM

Social is greater than shopping, which is greater than e-mail

Adult sites also place in an Experian review of web browsing times.

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Social media clobbers shopping, shopping beats e-mail, and e-mail just manages to outshine porn. That’s according to a new report from Experian Marketing Services that describes how consumers spend their time browsing the web on personal computers.

The report distills Experian data into a breakdown of how much time consumers spend on each activity per hour spent online. The report covers three English-speaking markets: the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The findings, for the full year 2012, generally follow the same patterns among the three countries. In the United States, for instance, consumers spent about 16 minutes of every hour online—or 27% of that 60-minute period—visiting social networks or forums. That’s down from about 30% in 2011, Experian says.

Shopping accounts for 9% of that online time for U.S. consumers, a slim increase from 8% last year. E-mail takes up 5% of every hour online, down from 6% in 2011. Adult web sites suck up 4% of that time, the same as in 2011.

Entertainment sites command 15% of the time of U.S. online consumers, down from 16% last year. Only 1% of that time went to travel sites, Experian says, the same as last year. “Other” sites accounted for 27% of the online time, with news, business, and lifestyle sites accounting for a few percentage points each.

E-mail had a much better showing on mobile devices used by U.S. consumers, with 23% of the time devoted to that communication method, according to data from the first quarter of 2013. Social networking came in second, with 15%, followed by entertainment (13%), shopping (11%) and travel (9%). The report did not identify the other uses, and the mobile statistics do not include the use of mobile apps.

"Understanding consumer behavior across channels is more important than ever as more visits are being made on the move, particularly among social networking and e-mail,” says Bill Tancer, general manager of global research for Experian Marketing Services. "With smartphones and tablets becoming more powerful, our data clearly indicates the difference between mobile and traditional desktop usage further enabling the 'always on' consumer mentality. Marketers need to understand these differences, as well as regionally, to ensure campaigns can be tailored for better and more effective engagement.”

For the United Kingdom and Australia, the main findings are as follows for consumers using personal computers:

• In the United Kingdom, social in 2012 accounted for 22% of the time spent online, followed by entertainment (15%) and shopping (10%). Adult sites were at 4%, with e-mail at 3%.

• In Australia, social in 2012 stood at 24%, followed by entertainment (15%) and shopping (6%). Adult sites were at 4%, with e-mail at 2%.

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