[photopress:No_comparison_sm.jpg,full,alignright]The Online Publisher Association announced that it added Community as a category to its Internet Activity Index (IAI). So they will now measure how much time consumers spend online with Content, Communications, Commerce, Search and Community.
The OPA defines community as:
“Web sites and applications that combine user-generated content with communications in order to foster relationships between individual members and groups of members. Many Community sites are content driven, and they were previously accounted for in the Content category. However Community’s content is largely user-generated, and when merged with communication, creates a specific category of online activity.”
The IAI numbers for January show that consumers spent 42.7% of their online time interacting with content, 28.7% with communications, 16.1% with commerce, 7.5% with community and 5.0% with search.
AdAge picked up on the story, declaring “When It Comes to Time Spent Online, Content Trumps Community.”
But wait a minute here, adding community as a category at the same level as content, communications, search and commerce, is like comparing apples and oranges. Or better yet, comparing apples and oranges with air or water. Communities are combinations of content, commerce, communications and search. And communities affect the usage pattern of all the above categories and vice versa. So if I am spending time on Amazon.com, am I spending time with commerce, content, search or community? Obviously the end result is commerce if I buy something, but it could also be searching without buying or interacting with content (both user generated reviews and published content) without commerce. The fact that Amazon is a community which leverages my personal profile very well (another component of communities) is determining my interactions and time consumption on that site. The same can be said for many other sites that combine content with community. If I am spending time on the WSJ Health blog, I am spending time with content or community? If as a car buff I spend time on Carspace.com, I am spending time with commerce, content or community? Would I spend as much time conducting commerce, searching for stuff or interacting with the content on those sites if there were no community component to them?
Besides the fact something does not sit right with the categories, many conclusions drawn from the new numbers by AdAge and the IPA are equally flawed. Jim Nail at the Cymphony’s Influence 2.0 blog captures those flaws in detail in his post today (well worth the read). A couple of highlights include:
- The fact that page views per person in content dropped 225 pages suggests that a number of content sites were just moved to community.
- Content sites show 480 pages per month per user vs. 380 pages for community sites. So from an ad perspective, the reach may be just the same.
- Another factor not reflected in the new numbers is influence. If a third of people below 30 don’t make buying decisions before checking with their social networks, the impact of communities on the commerce is obviously not reflected in those numbers.
We should of course remember the agendas that both organizations are representing – those of advertisers and publishers.