GST Sites Score as Users Scour Tax Info

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA] The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has driven
record figures for Australian home Internet use, with more people going online to
seek information on the new tax system.

New figures from Internet audience measurement service Nielsen//NetRatings
indicate more than 3.9 million Australians surfed the Net from home in
June, up more than 30 percent since March.

The Australian Tax Office
attracted record traffic according to NetRatings figures, with a unique
audience of 187,273. Sites for software companies such as MYOB also recorded traffic increases,
with 41,245 unique visitors.

The June 30, and then July 15, private health cover deadlines also
sent Australians to the Internet for information and services. Private
health insurer Medibank
received 58,245 unique visitors, while the Federal Government’s health
site, health.gov.au, recorded
52,124 unique visitors, according to NetRatings’ figures.

While the number of people using the Internet has increased, the
NetRatings research showed that the number of sessions per user has
dropped from 14 sessions in March to 11 in June.

ACNielsen eRatings.com director of sales and marketing, Mark Henning,
saw this statistic as an indication that Internet users are “beginning
to fine tune their surfing behavior.” “Our experience in overseas
markets shows us that users tend to surf a smaller repertoire of sites
as they become familiar with Net.”

As Nielsen//NetRatings’ research is drawn from a panel of users, the
company has also drawn some demographic data from its latest figures.
According to the research, 53.45 percent of men accessed the Internet
compared with 46.55 percent of women, and the 35-49 age group was the
largest demographic of users.

NetRatings’ research comes as the National
Office for the Information Economy
released its Current State of Play report
on Australian Internet use.

According to this report, 82 percent of 12-24 year olds accessed the
Internet to April 2000, while 740,000 Australian adults shopped online
in the year to February 2000.

The Federal Government will also likely be encouraged by the report’s
figures on home Internet access growth in more regional areas of
Australia. Over the past two years, there has been a 164 percent
increase in the number of houses in non-metropolitan areas with Internet
access, outpacing the still growing figure in metropolitan areas of 109
percent.

Federal Government schemes such as Networking the Nation have sought
to close the information divide between urban and non-urban Australians,
by funding projects that are seeking to bring communities and business online.

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