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Awareness of the World Wide Web and Internet skyrocketed in the Advertising Age/Market Facts survey.

Of the 1,000 consumers surveyed, 82% said they had heard of the World Wide Web, compared with only 44.7% last year. The Internet, a term recognized by 82% last year, is now nearly ubiquitous, at 93.5% awareness.

Even more encouraging for online developers, the survey indicated that 27% of the general audience have been online in the past six months, although it didn't break out how many of those were regular users vs. those who had tried going online at a friend's or in a store or elsewhere.

Of the people who said they had been online at least once, 80% said it was in the past six months.

"`If this number were 40%, it would suggest people tried it a long time ago, lost interest and dropped it. But it does not appear there are significant numbers of triers and rejecters," said Tom Mulraz, VP-group manager of Market Fact's TeleNation.

Regardless of whether they had used interactive media or not, consumers in general are much less interested in participating in entertainment activities like watching movies on demand than they are in using interactive media to conduct research.

In 1994, the second year the Ad Age/Market Facts study was conducted, 45% of respondents said they would be interested in on-demand movies or TV programs and 28.1% cited e-mail. This year, 42.6% of the general respondent pool cited e-mail, and the interest in movies or TV shows on-demand declined to 35.8%.

Consumers were most interested in researching products (53.2%), doing research for school or work (50.1%) or participating in educational programs (44.2%). Commercial applications such as shopping trailed in interest.

Market Facts' general population study found 23.5% of respondents said they are interested in going online to shop for clothing or personal items, a figure that has not fluctuated much over the years.

Even fewer want to shop for groceries interactively; only 18.2% indicated a willingness to do so.

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