NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When you consider popular media properties, the natural tendency is to think about those venues that usually draw consumers in throngs: a particular TV show, magazine or even a website. You might be surprised to find that consumers aren't as old-school as all that.
The most engaging media outlets -- the ones that draw the most involved users -- happen to be such things as Google's search engine, AOL's email, Google's YouTube video-sharing service and the Facebook social-networking service. The rankings were compiled by NewMediaMetrics, a Jericho, N.Y., company that studies consumers' emotional attachment to media venues and advertisers' products.
To be certain, ABC and its brethren still make the grade. The Walt Disney network, home to "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy," comes in ninth in the rankings, followed by News Corp.'s Fox at No. 11, NBC Universal's NBC at No. 12 and CBS Corp.'s CBS at No. 13. What's most striking, however, is that these broadscale outlets are trumped by such digital-age phenomena as Amazon.com (No. 5), Apple's iTunes (No. 10) and AOL's MapQuest (No. 8).
To get its results, NewMediaMetrics conducts an online study with a sample of 3,500 people between the ages of 13 and 54. Participants are asked to grade their attachment to brands and media properties on an 11-point scale ranging from 0 to 10. The company's operating theory is that consumers who say they are attached to a particular media venue pay attention 40% more than an "unattached viewer."
What people may find most startling are the types of media properties involved. It's true, the act of plotting a map online, exchanging an instant message or buying an e-book or MP3 file isn't exactly what come to mind when people talk about the media. Yet "places" such as iTunes, Amazon and eBay are taking up more of our time. In many cases, paid advertising is part of the experience.
So take a gander at the list of media below. You may find the rankings surprising, but you can't deny the fact that we're interacting with a greater number of "media" outlets these days. More important, perhaps, is that our definition of media -- usually our chief source of information, data and entertainment -- appears to be in flux.