Seasoned users shun spontaneity on the Web: survey

LONDON Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:43am BST

People use computers at an internet cafe in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, November 13, 2009. REUSTERS/Stringer

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LONDON (Reuters) - Spontaneous activity on the Internet is on the wane among experienced users as they shun aimless surfing and plan their online sessions more, according to a study published by Microsoft and two agencies.

The survey found that spontaneous use of the Internet fell to 21 percent in 2009/10 according to diaries kept by users in Brazil, Britain, France and Canada from 39 percent in 2007, when a similar survey was conducted in those countries.

Microsoft and its survey partners, mec and Mindshare, attributed the change in usage patterns to a growing resistance among seasoned Internet users to becoming too dependent on the Web, as well as to greater efficiency.

"I've stopped bringing my laptop into the bedroom at night, as I would just sit there for hours surfing aimlessly," said one French user. Another said: "I spend less time on the Internet but I manage to do much more than before."

In all, more than 7,000 people were surveyed by market research firm Ipsos in 11 countries: in addition to the four above, Spain, Russia, China, India, Japan, Mexico and the United States were added in 2010.

The survey also found that users in emerging economies were far more open to online ads than those in mature markets.

Respondents in mature markets said there was too much online advertising of every kind, while those in emerging markets said they were happy to see more of several types, especially map-based ads and video ads.

"When the Internet is a novelty, even advertising is a novelty," Beth Uyenco, head of research at Microsoft advertising, told Reuters by telephone.

Pop-up ads were the least popular type of online advertising in both mature and emerging markets.

Microsoft made $1.9 billion in revenue from online advertising in 2010, about 3 percent of its total sales.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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