Study: Social trumped email, news in time spent online in 2012

Summary:If broken down into an hour, analysts found social networking would have accounted for 27 percent of online activity during that time frame last year.


Turns out that social networking was the most popular online activity in 2012, soundly trouncing email, news and shopping (among other activities) when it comes to time consumption.

Experian Marketing Services has just published a report breaking down time consumption rates for the most common online activites across personal computers and mobile devices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

If broken down into an hour, analysts found social networking would have accounted for 27 percent of online activity on PCs during that time frame last year.

For the U.S. alone, the number is actually closer to 16 minutes out of every hour online for social networking and forums, followed by nine minutes on entertainment sites and five minutes dedicated to shopping.

Email and business trailed those more consumer-friendly activities at three minutes a piece.

While this news might be slightly troubling for employers, Bill Tancer, general manager of global research for Experian Marketing Services, described in the report about the opportunity (and challenge) this presents for digital marketers.

Understanding consumer behavior across channels is more important than ever as more visits are being made on the move, particularly among social networking and email. With smart phones and tablets becoming more powerful, our data clearly indicates the difference between mobile and traditional desktop usage further enabling the ’always on’ consumer mentality. Marketers need to understand these differences, as well as regionally, to ensure campaigns can be tailored for better and more effective engagement.

However, there are a few important items to point out. First, analysts found that time spent on social media in these three markets still declined by single digit percentage points from the previous year.

More importantly, the situation is very different for mobile.

Just for the first quarter of 2013, email accounted for 23 percent of time spent on mobile devices in the United States, while social networking only clocked in 15 percent.

Image via Experian Marketing Services

Topics: Social Enterprise, Enterprise Software, Mobility, Tech Industry, Developer


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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