Study Finds Even Pets Gravitate to Home Computer Monitor

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Internet has become such an integral part of American consumers' daily lives that families now routinely treat their home computer monitors as they once treated their TV sets -- as the central fixtures of their lives, according to a new study released by the Online Publishers Association.

Multi-computer households
"People are bringing the Web into their lives," said media researcher John Carey of Greystone Communications, one of three organizations involved in the survey. He said consumers are networking computers in multi-computer households, decorating monitors with photographs much the same way TVs in the 1950s were treated as living room mantels, and that even pets routinely gravitate to computers, whether they're in the kitchen, bedroom or basement.

Mr. Carey said the household life portion of the overall study, conducted with the OPA and Frank N. Magid Associates, was an ethnographic project that looked at 23 households with a total of 44 people ranging in age from 14 to their late 50s. Roughly half of the households had broadband Internet access. Ethnography is the branch of anthropology that scientifically analyzes the common daily habits of a human culture.

Not a fringe medium
Mr. Carey said the findings indicate that the Web is no longer a fringe medium and that multitasking is common in households with broadband service.

A second portion of the project surveyed more than 25,852 people ages 18 to 54 about their use of the Web and their attitudes toward related online and offline brands.

That quantitative research was conducted online over a seven-day period on 41 individual Web sites via branded pop-up boxes. For example, readers on New York Times Co.'s NYTimes.com saw a pop-up box that invited them to participate in the survey. The 41 participating Web publications fell into two content categories -- national and local news. Participants included CondeNet's Epicurious.com; Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN.com; Microsoft Corp. and NBC's MSNBC.com; and Washington Post Co.'s WashingtonPost.com.

Among the findings:

  • 12% of consumers surveyed said they use a brand name media site as their home page.

  • 64% of those surveyed frequently use the offline counterpart of an online brand.

  • 60% frequently visit TV brand Web sites; 28% for newspaper sites and 29% for magazine sites.

  • 36% of people surveyed said they rarely or never use a Web media brand's offline complement or sibling, indicating fairly strong loyalty to stand-alone Web brands.

  • 44% of those surveyed said they frequently visited national news out of habit, while 23% said they visit just for fun and relaxation.

  • 35% of those surveyed said they occasionally go to national news Web sites out of habit and 41% said they go occasionally just for fun and relaxation.

  • 38% of respondents said their visits to local news Web sites are a frequent habit, and 38% also said it was an occasional habit, while 41% said they occasionally went to local news sites just for fun.

'Trusted sources'
The research found that a lot of people are relating Web sites to their offline brands. "They're looking for trusted sources," Mr. Carey said.

The finding suggests that offline and online sibling properties could do a better job of cross-promoting their properties and links, and that advertisers could efficiently seize on the opportunity to create relevant cross-media messages.

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