The rest of the world as we know it

In this month's cover story, Senior Editor Jeanine Katzel reports on the results of a survey conducted earlier this year regarding plant engineers and their use of the internet.
By Len O' Neal, Web Editor June 1, 2000

In this month’s cover story, Senior Editor Jeanine Katzel reports on the results of a survey conducted earlier this year regarding plant engineers and their use of the internet. Below, we take a look at the rest of the surfing world, as measured by various market research firms.

A site a day keeps…

So just how much time does the general work population spend surfing the web? According to an April report from AC Nielsen/NetRating, Inc. (acnielsen.com), the average monthly activity for a web user at work includes 38 sessions, 27 unique sites visited, and over 1300 page views, all totaling just over 20 hr of surfing.

Lost or found

Of course, not everyone knows exactly what site they should visit when they fire up their web browser. According to the latest statistics from NPD New Media Services (searchenginewatch.com/reports), many people never find exactly what they’re searching for. NPD’s Fall 1999 study indicates that only 77% of those using search engines succeed in finding what they need either every time (18.7%) or most of the time (58.3%).

What if a search turns up empty? Seventy-six percent of those surveyed prefer to stick with the same search site and search in a different way instead of trying their query at another search site. Which begs the question: What is the best search engine? Google (google.com) had the best rating in the NPD survey, with 95% of respondents saying they found what they were searching for every time or most of the time. Another top search engine, as recommended by CNet.com and yours truly, is HotBot (hotbot.com).

To share or not to share

So the needle in the haystack has been found. What’s the likelihood that your average web surfer will buy that needle? According to AC Nielsen, nearly half of all web users have purchased something online. However, as @dplan, inc., reported in a recent survey of 1000 web users, 78% of respondents are still very concerned about outsider access to credit card information when buying online.

The privacy of credit card and other personal information requested by web sites remains a hotly debated issue. Are companies using the data they collect to benefit you or them? Research conducted by Cyber Dialogue indicates that 50% of web users say collecting personal data is OK if that data is to be used to personalize the content presented to them, yet 92% say that they don’t trust companies to keep their information confidential.

To get you to the point of purchasing or registering at a web site, most companies are investing significant time and money into email marketing. And why not? Eighty-six percent of internet users are using e-mail (AC Nielsen). And if e-mail is your preferred method of communication, beware: Jupiter Communications estimates U.S. internet users will, on average, receive 1600 commercial e-mails a year by 2005.

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